Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Pronunciation - Geography Controversy

Posted August 30, 2011

Two strong opinions came rolling into our newsroom recently.  One is a pronunciation question. The other relates to geography. I would like to get your opinions as we try to resolve these issues. 

How do you pronounce the Outer Banks community of Rodanthe? Most broadcasters and people I know say roe-DAN-thee. Three syllables with the accent on the second syllable. A caller this morning insisted the true local pronunciation is roe-DANTH. No third syllable. What have you heard? 

Second question: what do you think of when someone says “Down East?” My answer is everything east of I-95 in NC. Some say it’s everything east of Raleigh on to the coast. There is also a vocal group of coastal residents that insists the only true Down East is a part of Carteret County that includes Harkers Island and the communities of Davis, Stacy and Atlantic. Apparently the broad use of Down East is offensive as one viewer wrote: “Please stop calling all of eastern North Carolina 'Down East'. Only a few islands in eastern Carteret County are Down East. Please get your facts straight. Ask any Carteret County local (not tourist). It’s a cool term but facts are facts.” 

Let’s try to settle these questions. Thanks for your help. 

By the way, Tyrell County is pronounced TAIR-uhl. The first syllable rhymes with HAIR. It’s never ty-RELL as I heard the other day.



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  • jstuartmc Aug 31, 2011

    The Dare County Manager, Bobby Outten, on a youTube video linked from the Dare County Government site, says 'Ro-Dan-Thee' clearly. 3 syllables. When I can get back to our house at Waves, I'll ask if anyone says otherwise!

  • ldsdonna Aug 31, 2011

    True Down East is east of Beaufort following Hwy 70-Bettie, Otway, Straits, Gloucester, Harkers Island, Marshallberg, Smyrna, Williston, Stacy, Davis, Sea Level, Atlantic, and Cedar Island. For more years than I have been alive (and that's a lot), the locals have called eastern Carteret County "Down East." It is only in the past several years that you have started hearing it used to describe "east of Raleigh."

  • jblake1932 Aug 31, 2011

    My stupid head still shakes alot when I talk! Can't figure out WHY! Does anybody out there in computor land have any idear why?

  • Frizz Aug 31, 2011

    Even though this is about mispronunciations, how about incorrect titles?

    It really bothers me when someone says, "When I moved down here to Carolina....". The last time I checked, there was a NORTH Carolina and a SOUTH Carolina but there's no state named CAROLINA.

    There's a University in Chapel Hill that many call Carolina but I seriously doubt any of these folks went to college there.

  • readinggal Aug 31, 2011

    speaking of pronunciations ... we were listening to the tornado report on Monday night for the areas of Tarboro, Pinetops and Conetoe. I heard the same announcer pronounce Conetoe 2 different ways ... Cone-toe and Co-ne-toe. Which is correct?

  • PAINFREE Aug 31, 2011

    Down East is part of Carteret County, and the rest of NC east of I-95 is Eastern North Carolina, in my opinion, which nobody asked for! There, I feel better now.

  • uncfan89 Aug 31, 2011

    My Daddy grew up in Gates Co and we always vacationed on the Outer Banks and the only way I have ever heard Rondanthe pronounced is Ro-DAN-thee definately 3 syllables. I grew up in Caswell Co. and I remember in 8th grade NC history I was the only one that could pronounce Pasquatank, Perquimmens and Chowan and the only one that had ever been there too!

    You can also tell if someone is from Caswell Co by the way they say Yanceyville (the county seat). If the say Yance-ville (with no long e in the middle) and not Yancey-ville you know they are local.

  • over50 Aug 31, 2011

    How about COROLLA ? I was on a wild horse tour near there a while back and another person in the party pronounced it like the car (ka-ROLL-a). the jeep driver immediately stopped the vehicle, turned and said, "Ma'am, it's pronounced ka-RAH-la; we are NOT a Toyota!"

  • ghimmy51 Aug 31, 2011

    It is and has always been Ro danth. It's a middle English word and pronunciation. Down East is a lot further down East than I-95. The use of the term for such a broad area has always riled me. It's like you folks are from elsewhere and just didn't care to ask.

  • elle Aug 31, 2011

    Just as our barbeque sauces are different as you cross the state (I bet there are some strong opinions out there about East VS. West). . . those of us native to NC pronounce things differently too. The words Appalachian, Rodanthe, Tyrell, Momeyer, Wendell . . . the list goes on and on . . . will forever gives us something to fondly hash out with one another. Oh - - grew up in eastern NC but not sure I would consider it Down East!




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