Wednesday, December 22, 2010

We talk funny: How we actually speak

Here's the second part at the look at the ways we "talk" in North Carolina. I've always been fascinated with this subject, especially after reading Walt Wolfram's "Hoi Toid on the Outer Banks." This one is actually just that -- the various dialects. And, boy, are there a lot of them in North Carolina. (See part 1 here.)

The North Carolina Language and Life Project at N.C. State (Go Pack!) has done amazing research in cataloging the various dialects all across the state. As its website states, the goals of the project are:
  • To gather basic research information about language variety in order to understand the nature of language variation and change.

  • To provide information about language differences and language change for public and educational interests.

  • To use the material collected in research projects for the improvement of educational programs about language and culture.
  • To preserve the rich heritage of language variety in North Carolina as it reflects the different cultural traditions of its residents.

I'm personally always trying to detect peoples' roots based on their inflections, pronunciations and even pauses. (I'm a bit of a geek that way.) You can see some of the various research findings on places such as Crusoe Island, Louisburg (one of my favorites because of the lilt), Ocracoke, Graham County, Raleigh, Durham and many others.

Here are some youtube clips that show the variety in regional dialects just in N.C. alone. (Here's a link to the NCLLP's channel.)

The project even has an online media store where you can purchase some of their work.

Monday, December 20, 2010

We talk funny: Place names

This is the first in what I think will be just a two-parter about the ways we "talk" in North Carolina. And by talk I mean the way we speak and the way we pronounce place names. I've always been fascinated with this subject, especially after reading Walt Wolfram's "Hoi Toid on the Outer Banks."

This first part is geared at the various place names in the state. North Carolina is lucky in that we have A LOT of places that have some interesting pronunciations. In fact, the N.C. Collection at the UNC-Chapel Hill Library offers a database, of sorts, on its website called, "Talk Like a Tar Heel." You can view it here. In fact, the list is organized by county, which is quite helpful.

Among my favorites are ...
Conetoe (kuh-NEE-tuh)
Concord (CON-CORD -- not CON-kerd)
Etowah (EH-tuh-wuh)
Harnett (HAR-nit)
Mebane (MEB-in -- not muh-BAIN)
Tyrrell (TERR-il)
Zebulon (ZEB-you-lon)

Of course, I don't necessarily agree with some of these; I've always heard Edgecombe as "EDGE-comb," not "EDGE-cum," as listed here.

Any other place names that don't necessarily sound like they look?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Eastover to drop a ... flea .. on New Year's

North Carolina is known for its sometimes wacky New Year's Eve celebrations: the shooters in Cherryville ("Cherr-vul"), the dropping of a pickle in (obviously) Mount Olive, etc.

But this one might take the cake.

The newest addition to the dropping tradition is a 30-pound insect. The eastern North Carolina town of Eastover will drop a flea made of fabric, foam, wire and wood Dec. 31 from Flea Hill.

The ceremony will include a storyteller recounting the legend of Flea Hill just before midnight. An Eastover native wrote nearly 50 years ago that Flea Hill was infested with the pests.

Any other fun New Year's celebrations?

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Gazetteer fun: M-O

The highly entertaining and educational North Carolina Gazetteer has been updated for the first time since it was first published in 1968.

We figured we would highlight some of our favorites from the book every now and then. This version will look at random listings that begin with letters, M, N and O . (Click here to see some older versions.) There are some 2,ooo-plus listings in the Gazetteer, so feel free to search for your own faves.

Maggot Spring Gap, w[estern] Haywood County in Great Smoky Mountains National Park near lat. 35-33-08 N, long. 83-07-55 W. Named fora nearby spring used by cattle rangers that had in it the larvae of an insect that resembled a maggot.

Nimrod, community in s[outh]w[est] Mecklenburg County served by post office, 1891-1902. Was on the w[est] side of the Charlotte, Columbia, and Augusta Railroad. Site is now the Yorkmont area of Charlotte.

Okay, community in n[orth]e[ast] Forsyth County served by a post office, 1890-1904.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

N.C. prime for wind energy

A new report by the National Wildlife Federation states that North Carolina is a prime location for potential offshore wind farms. The report cites warm temperatures and large areas of shallow water that may mitigate the downside of slightly slower wind speeds. The report projects that the state could create between 10,000 and 20,000 new manufacturing jobs, says this article.

The report, Offshore Wind in the Atlantic: Growing Momentum for Jobs, Energy Independence, Clean Air and Wildlife Protection, makes the following key findings.

Every state with significant offshore wind resources from Maine to Georgia has some taken some steps forward on offshore wind. Northern states (Maine to Maryland) have the most advanced projects while Southern states (Virginia to Georgia) are quickly mobilizing on a series of projects. See detailed chart and state profiles.

The Atlantic’s shallow water characteristics combined with excellent wind speed make it an ideal location for offshore wind farms. 93 percent of offshore wind projects worldwide are in shallow waters (zero to 30 meters deep). Close to half of the United States’ shallow water offshore wind is along the Atlantic coast.

While the most extensive European study concluded that offshore wind farms do not appear to have long-term or large-scale ecological impacts, major data gaps for the Atlantic Ocean still exist and site-specific impacts need to be evaluated. A coordinated, comprehensive, and well-funded effort is needed to address these gaps and improve the permitting process. ...

Governor Bev Perdue reiterated her support of green energy initiatives, especially wind. “As governor, my duty is to make North Carolina better – to grow jobs, to position our state for a 21st century economy, and to improve the quality of our citizens’ lives. In my vision of North Carolina’s future, we have wind turbines off our coast, and we are the leaders of the nation’s new green energy economy. Now I am working to make that vision a reality.”

The report specifically calls on governmental leaders across the country to create the economic and political climate necessary to jumpstart the offshore wind industry in the Atlantic Ocean. The North Carolina Wildlife Federation and Environment North Carolina note that Governor Perdue has already positioned North Carolina to develop the industry. ...