Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

How do you say it?

Posted November 24, 2008

Can you identify a native North Carolinian by the way he or she says certain words?

A WRAL story about pecans grabbed my attention over the weekend. Pecan farmer Billy Bunn declared the so-called official pronunciation of the nutritious nut in North Carolina. His pronunciation is different than the one I prefer so I thought I would put it up for a vote.

I started thinking about other words and names that generate varying forms of pronunciation.

Please weigh in on the following.

(1) How do you say “pecan?” (a) pah-KAHN or (b) PEE-KAN

(2) How do you say the second word of “Wake Forest?” (a) FAHR-ist or (b) FORE-ist

(3) How do you say “Carolina?” (a) KAIR-oh-LY-na or (b) KEER-oh-LY-na

(4) How do you say “elementary?” (a) EL-ah-MEN-tree or (b) EL-ah-MEN-tah-ree

(5) How do you say “orange?” (a) ORE-enj or (b) AHR-eng

(6) How do you say “pajamas?” (a) pah-JAM-uhs or pah-JAH-mus

(7) How do you say “syrup?” (a) SEER-up or (b) SUR-up

Here are my answers:

(1) a (2) a (3) a (4) a (5) b (6) b (7) b


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  • iamac Nov 28, 2008

    My mom is from Des Moines, IA. She says a pee-can is what you put under the bed at night, but after 50 some odd years in NC she says pee-can just like the rest of us in DC.

  • dontaskme Nov 25, 2008

    We given a little post it at an event in Winston Salem over 20 years ago. It is still posted on our refrigerator.

    How to speak Southern:

    MR ducks
    MR not
    CM wings
    MR ducks

    Sorry if you've heard it before. We thought it was pretty cute.

  • happy Nov 25, 2008

    I was born in Fl-OR-ida so I always say my O's.

    1)a, 2)b, 3)a, 4)a, 5)a, 6)b, 7)b

  • thewomacks Nov 25, 2008

    1) a, 2) b, 3) a, 4) a, 5) a, 6) b, 7) b

    My father, who is a botanist, aways told me that you sit on a PEE-KAN -- you eat a pah-KAHN! Glad you say it right!!

  • amkilgore0163 Nov 25, 2008

    (1) b) PEE-KAN

    (2) b) FORE-ist

    (3) a) KAIR-oh-LY-na
    (4) a) EL-ah-MEN-tree

    (5) a) ORE-enj

    (6) a) pah-JAM-uhs

    (7) b) SUR-up

  • PatMcGroine Nov 24, 2008

    So is it Camp Le-June or Camp Le-Jerne?

  • thinknc Nov 24, 2008

    (1) (b) PEE-KAN

    (2) (a) FAHR-ist

    (3) (a) KAIR-oh-LY-na

    (4) (a) EL-ah-MEN-tree

    (5) (b) AHR-eng

    (6) (b) pah-JAH-mus

    (7) (b) SUR-up

  • cheddarhead Nov 24, 2008

    1) a 2) b 3) a 4) a 5) a 6) a 7) b

  • lamzadoodle Nov 24, 2008

    I grew up saying PEE-can until someone pointed out to me that the only 2 people who use PEE-cans are fisherman and long distance truck drivers! Since then, it's now Pee-kahn. This list could go on and on. I once shared a ride to work with someone from New Hampshire who was quick to point out all the "strange" names we have for things as well as the way we pronounce them. Example, ride on the car, instead of in the car. We had lots of fun laughing to and from work many days just talking about the way the talk!!

  • heintz Nov 24, 2008

    (1) B.
    (2) I say it WAKE FORCED (one syllable each)
    (3) CARE-LYE-NAH
    (4) A.
    (5) How do you say “orange?” ORNJE (one syllable)
    (6) B.
    (7) SURP (one syllable, a little more drawn out when it is sounded than it looks, but still one syllable)




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