Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Y'all Talk Funny!

Posted September 19, 2007

I have endured a lot of good-natured teasing over the years about the way I talk. I am proud of my Southern roots but I also realize that as a broadcaster I must develop somewhat of a neutral dialect. Back in my college years I carried a tape recorder with me and constantly worked on my delivery by listening, refining and polishing.

Still, my Southernese comes through. Former WRAL Anchor Laurie Clowers used to kid me about the way I said the word "umbrella" because I put the accent on the first instead of second syllable.

Missouri native Lynda Loveland teased me about the way I said "horrible." My pronunciation was more HAHR-uh-bul versus HOR-uh-bul.

And is it Wake FOR-ist or Wake FAHR-ist?

I teased Lynda this morning about the way she pronounced "caramel." Lynda said KARR-muhl. I say KAIR -uh-muhl.

We both say "pecan" as pah-KAHN but a lot of people insist on PEE-kan.

Listen to the way Democratic Presidential candidate John Edwards says words like "nice," "night" and "fight." It is very Southern.

Today's question: what words or phrases set Southerners apart?


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  • Legswilson Sep 19, 2007

    One expression that's heard only in the south is "pure-tee" used by Freda Black in the Mike Peterson trial... "pure-tee filth" or as my nephew is "pure-tee rotten" (He's so spoiled) and it's his mama's fault!

  • lawpirate is still around Sep 19, 2007

    How do you pronounce "aunt?"

    It depends on which aunt I'm talking about. Either 'ant' or 'ain't'

  • Red Bird Sep 19, 2007

    The controversy over the use of sir and mam is beyond me. I am 49 years old, a native of Guilford County and I was taught to use it as a sign of respect when addressing someone, particularly your elders,irregardless of color, creed,or nationality. It is called minding your manners!

  • bleslie Sep 19, 2007

    How do you pronounce "aunt?"

  • bleslie Sep 19, 2007

    Legs. Excellent summary. What movie star has slaughtered the Southern dialect the worst? Sean Penn in All the King's Men was pretty bad.

  • Baseball Nut Sep 19, 2007

    Not only does our accent throw off many people from up north but also the way we greet people we don't know. A co-worker of mine was "got away with" by walking down the hall a work and everyone saying,"Haay, howr you?". He said up north, people usually just glance their eyes downward and don't aknowledege others. I told him to get used to it cause that's just how we are. I also told him that if they did know him, they'd have asked, "How's ya Mama an dim?" One other thing I ran into a few years back coaching my son's baseball team. A big rule of mine was to say Yes Sir and No Sir. One boy and his family was from Ohio and his mother told me though she didn't mind him saying that, it would be hard for them to get used to because where they were from, using Sir and Mam was racist. I never did understand that.

  • Legswilson Sep 19, 2007

    Southern speech is considered aristocratic in many circles. It's closer to the Queen's English than any other American accent and was formed from a combination of Scottish, Irish and English accents. We speak with a drawl... it's slower than average and the word's vowels are drawn out. I'm a native southerner and find it quite charmin' myself. If you're from above the Mason-Dixon... don't bother trying to fake it... you just can't do it!

  • ballmom Sep 19, 2007

    I grew up in Zebulon when the old Wake'lon school used to be here, my grandchild goes to Wake lon', that's not the way we pronounce it here.

  • aquamama Sep 19, 2007

    I forgot- my favorite southern word: kin. As in family.

  • aquamama Sep 19, 2007

    I've lived in NC for 14 years, after being an army brat and living all over. But lately 2 people have said to me, "You're not from around here, are you?" I guess not. I'm from Fay'-a-vul. Or Fayettevee-ul. Whichever.




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Bill Leslie