Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

The Edgecombe Controversy

Posted March 15, 2007

This is what I love about blogs: With all of the interaction I learn something new every day. Yesterday's discussion yielded the following gem: there is a secondary local pronunciation of Wilson. A lot of locals (but certainly not all) put a "t" in there. Wilson becomes WILT-sun. That's pretty unusual.

Usually Southerners are accused of removing syllables from pronunciations. Growing up in Morganton most folks lazily pronounced "Rutherfordton" as RUV-tun. When my new fifth grade wiffleball buddy from Buffalo, NY came down and pronounced all four syllables of Rutherfordton we looked at him as if he were crazy and from another planet.

After yesterday's discussion we've reached a consensus on the pronunciation of Rocky Mount.
It should be pronounced as one word "rockymount" with equal emphasis. If there is any emphasis it should come on "mount," but never ROCKY mount as if ROCKY were a modifier.

Okay. Please help me with this one. I have a St. Patrick's Day concert Saturday night in Tarboro. The last thing I want to do is mispronounce the name of community college where I am performing with the Celtic band Lorica. By the way, Lorica is Latin for breastplate and it is pronounced LORE-uh-ka.

Until about ten years ago I pronounced the second syllable of "Edgecombe" the same as the second syllable of "Buncombe." EDJ-kum and BUNK-um right? I started getting some mail saying the second syllable of "Edgecombe" should be pronounced with a long "O," like you pronounce the word "comb." I guess you could phonetically write it this way: EDJ-koem.

I'm counting on you. Folks in Tarboro, Speed, Princeville and Hartsease need to set me straight if I am wrong. I don't want to embarrass myself Saturday night. Thanks.


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  • Ashen-Shugar Mar 16, 2007

    InChambers is correct although I've never really thought about the way I pronounce where I grew up. Funny thought though. I guess we don't expect to many people to know where it is, that is why we do the long Tar-burrow when speaking to others not of this state.

  • NC Forester Mar 15, 2007

    What about Conetoe? ka-nee-ta

  • deepriver Mar 15, 2007


    I wonder how many people outside of Randolph, Moore, and Chatham counties know the correct way to pronounce Erect, NC?

    We locals pronounce it as E-wreck.

  • UNC98 Mar 15, 2007

    Hi Bill--Not to change the topic too much, but this reminds me of the differing pronunciations of Forsyth County. Those of us from the Triad area pronounce it for-SYTH, while "outsiders" pronounce it FOR-syth. Just FYI in case you ever do a concert there!

  • Wheelman Mar 15, 2007

    I grew up in Wilson and there is another pronunciation. It is Wool-son. I would agree with the Edge-comb and I knew many folks that pronounced Tarboro as Tar-burra. I guess it depends on how "down East" you are and whether the barbeque sandwich you are eating is getting in the way of your pronunciation!

  • Scare Crow Mar 15, 2007

    Bill I always heard it called TarBer.

  • just my2cents Mar 15, 2007

    Edge-a-COMB! For all my years I have lived there, so think I can attest to that. Tarboro is more like Tar-burra

  • 25874245844 Mar 15, 2007

    Bill I can't believe you have heard of Speed! That is were I am frum! Haha. No Edgecombe is pronounced like a comb you use in your hair. I have never heard it any other way. And Tarboro is pronounced Tarber around here. Cool blog.

  • GroupOfPricklyPears Mar 15, 2007

    EDGE COMB-comb as in hair comb and I've said both - TAR-buh and Tar-burrow for Tarboro. When speaking to yankees it's TAR-burrow. When speaking to natives it's TAR-buh.

  • ToBar Mar 15, 2007

    I've always heard EDGE-comb.




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