Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

How Do You Pronounce "Rocky Mount?"

Posted March 14, 2007

I won't be in Rocky Mount this weekend but I'll be close by and I hope to see a lot of my friends from that fine city. I will be performing in Tarboro at Edgecombe Community College with my Celtic-fusion band Lorica in a special St. Patrick's Day show. Tarboro is pretty easy to pronounce unless you're from Brooklyn. Rocky Mount is another matter.

A viewer left me a voice message the other day saying: "Ya'll folks in the media need to learn how to say Rocky Mount correctly." The caller complained that many newscasters put the wrong emphasis on the two words.

I may be incorrect but I was told early in my career that Rocky Mount is pronounced with equal emphasis on each word.  You say it as if it were just one word instead of two.  The criticism comes when people put extra stress on ROCKY. There's probably a good reason for that. Historian William Powell says the city got its name for the rocky mounds and ledges on the falls of the Tar River.

I should probably call famous Rocky Mount native Tom Suiter to get him to weigh in on this but he is asleep as I write this.

Rocky Mount natives? Please settle this debate with your blog entries.


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  • rmgirl Mar 15, 2007

    Don't forget Conetoe (not "cone-toe") and Pinetops (not pu-knee-tups...

  • fishnett5977 Mar 15, 2007

    I just gotta tell ya, about Chalybeate Springs! There use to be a radio announcer in this area (Harnett/Johnston Counties)that pronounced it ChalEBeet Springs! Even as a kid, I knew that was wrong!!! We would hear it and my mother and I would just roll with laughter! I still get tickled when I hear folks mispronounce places here in NC. And I'm always quick to correct them, with a smile and a "youins is doin just fine, bless yore heart!" ;) Have a great day!

  • jimwilson2005 Mar 14, 2007

    The REAL mystery of pronunciation is in Wilson...

    Which, oddly, gets pronounced with a mystery T in there

    For a sound like Wiltson....

    Why is that???

    Bill, that deserves a post from you on its own... :-)

  • MissMyTripod Mar 14, 2007

    I don't know how you pronounce Rocky Mount correctly, but I do know "y'all" is spelled "y'all" and not "ya'll".

  • 1911 Mar 14, 2007

    I guess the news is over????

  • Cindy Mar 14, 2007

    How about Henderson...I used to work with people from there and they said it like Henerson or Heneson. That was always sort of funny sounding to me. I live in Tarboro, you know, near CONE TOE and PINE TOPS. And let's not forget the hightiders from Colerain...or should that Cold Rain? Thanks for the great job Morning Crew of WRAL!!!

  • albritton76 Mar 14, 2007

    RM is pronounced as one word, with an ever so slight emphasis on the "mount".

    Kure Beach is most definitely CURE-ee.

    Topsail is TopSUL, but if I were trying to sell an over-priced, soon-to-be-hurricane-food house out there to an out-of-towner, I'd probably go with Top-Sail. :)

  • amandagrey Mar 14, 2007

    As long as it's not pronounced "Rocky Mountain", any way you say it is fine! People have different ways of saying everything! Salmon, tomato, etc. I don't think there is one "correct" way to pronounce it!

  • simracer68 Mar 14, 2007

    I as a lifelong North Carolinian pronounce it as one word, with equal emphasis on "both syllables" of that one word.

    What I want cleared up is Kure Beach. You know, between Carolina Beach and Fort Fisher. My aunt had a home there when I was a kid, right across from the Trading Post at the entry posts to Ft. Fisher, and have always called it CURE-ee (long e's, 2 syllables). And in the news I hear it pronounced KERR, CURE, and all sorts of other ways. What say y'all?

    At least we seem to have all the local newscasters pronouncing my current hometown properly, Angier (Ann-Ger). More than once in the 90s when watching the news, I heard several broadcasters/reporters pronounce it like it's a country (Ann-Jeer). lol

    Where's all the folks from Chalybeate Springs? They have a great one for pronouncing too... (KUH-lib-it Springs is how the folks at the convenience store there say it...).

  • vlawson Mar 14, 2007

    Hello Bill! I'm from Rocky Mount and have lived here all my life. You are pronouncing it correctly! I watch you and the morning crew every day while getting ready for work. You all do a great job! "How do you look so bright eyed and energetic so early in the morning!" Keep up the good work! We all love WRAL in Rocky Mount! :)

    Vickie - Rocky Mount, NC




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