North Carolina 13

Listen to North Carolina 13, a 57-year-old woman from Burnsville and Greensboro, North Carolina, United States. Click or tap the triangle-shaped play button to hear the subject.

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AGE: 57


PLACE OF BIRTH: Asheville, N.C

GENDER: female

ETHNICITY: Caucasian

OCCUPATION: teacher’s assistant

EDUCATION: college degree


The subject was born in Asheville, which is farther west than Burnsville, the small town in which she was raised and was residing at the time of this interview. She lived in Richmond, Virginia, for under a year and in Greenwood, South Carolina, for a year. She went to school for four years in Greensboro, North Carolina.


She grew up in a big house in the country, is now married to the owner of one of the two hardware stores in town and is described as being part of the “upper merchant class.”

The text used in our recordings of scripted speech can be found by clicking here.







I’m from a small rural community, and ev’rybody who lived in my neighborhood, if you want to call it that, were relatives.  We called it “the circle,” and our house was there, my grandmother’s house was there, an aun’ an’ uncle who were childless lived there, and (uh) a couple of aunts an’ uncles who had children.  There were five female cousins, an’ in the summertime we hung out together all day long from early until late.  In my grandmother’s yard was a maple tree, and the five of us developed that into our apartment building.  Each of us had a limb, and [small laugh] the less daring cousins took the lo’er limbs, and I and another cousin a year younger than I always went as far to the top as we could, an’ we– we were kinda derisive of those girls who stayed with the lower limbs.  We had front doors an’ back doors.  The front door was the — the limb — were the limbs on the front, that were nearest (um) the boxwood hedge.  And the grass was all worn away in that area.  An’ then the back doorwa–was on the back side of the tree, an’ you could only enter the front an’ exit from the rear.  And that had to be done by swinging off a limb that was fairly high off the ground, and (um) my cousin Belinda and I had no problem with that, but the other girls — that was always somethin’ we had to coax them into doin’.  But still, you entered the front, you left the rear.  We (um) ate our lunches together.  When it was lunchtime — an’ our mothers always cooked lunch in the summertime ’cause they didn’ want to be in the hot kitchen at night.  So we would just take our (um) — go home, an’ we’d load our plates with all the vegetables an’ the cornbread, an’ get our glasses of milk or ice tea or whatever we were havin’, an’ we would head for somebody’s yard, where we would all sit down an’ eat together.  It was just an institution:  lunch in somebody’s yard.  An’ if you wanted to go home for a second helping– sometimes that was quite a little walk, but it was worth it, because that was our thing, having lunch together, every day.  (Um) We gathered at my grandmother’s on Sundays.  All my aunts would get those chairs, form a circle.  (Uh) One crocheted.  (Uh) Most of them just sat an’ talked, an’ we girls hung out for the main part with the women.  (Uh) The men would gather around the fish pond, which was in a side yard.  It was (um) — it was kind of a rock (um) pond that my granddaddy had, had built.  There was a ir’n pipe in the middle, an’ when he went fishin’, he would put his catch in there.  Or he caught a mud turtle, he’d put it in there.  An’ there it stayed until it was time to kill it an’ cook it, whatever it was.  The pipe in the middle had water that sprayed up all the time.  There was a locust tree near there, an’ that’s where we girls picked the leaves an’ the thorns to make the doll clothes out o’ the locust.  It’s where we always ate the watermelon.  We always had to save the rind, an’ we always had to leave some pink on that rind, because my grandmother made watermelon pickles out o’ that rind.  I hated the things.  I thought they were the worst things I ever put in my mouth.  But ever’body else thought watermelon pickles were just a great delicacy.  That was also around the time that ev’rybody grew gladiolias [sic] an’ I thought they were the ugliest flower I’d ever laid my eyes on, but ever’body had gladiolias.  ‘Course now I’ve come to appreciate the gladiolia, but back then I had absolutely no appreciation for it.  It was also where we made (uh) ice cream, (uh) on the front porch.  We made ice cream on Sunday afternoons.  I had an aunt who worked in the general mercantile business that my family owned, an’ she was only home on Sunday, so she baked all day:  homemade rolls an’ cakes.  And so, she made cakes an’ we made ice cream, an’ ever’body wan’ed to crank, of course.  (Um) That was just a big treat, to get to crank that ice cream.  It was jus’ our Sunday afternoon thing, an’ I, I think back on it.  All the aunts would sit around an’ they’d talk, an’ they’d smoke.  Even if you never saw those ladies smoke, any other time o’ the week.  On Sunday afternoon when we all were gathered about in gran- in granny’s yard, they’d have a cigarette.  Just a way of relaxing, I suppose.  The maple tree’s now gone.  In later years, it was thought the maple tree, our apartment building, was shading the house too much an’ causing mildew, so it was removed at some point.  And I don’t, to this day, enjoy lookin’ (uh) into that part o’ the yard. …

TRANSCRIBED BY: Jacqueline Baker






Subject’s Appalachian dialect has surely been altered by her time in Greensboro, North Carolina, and her accent is different from the other Burnsville subjects I have taped. Regarding her personal habits, she lives in modern home and dresses in a sophisticated way. Her speech, especially while reading, shows the influence, I think, of her urban Greensboro experience. However, it is very interesting to note how her dialect shows more elements in common with her Burnsville neighbors after she finishes reading the required “Comma” passage and starts talking improvisationally about her childhood and the “apartment tree” that meant so much to her. Because of the differences, I will analyze the two sections separately. “Comma” passage: Speech generally is more forward in the mouth than that of her neighbors. Value is given to consonants. “Time,” “sight,” and “price” all drop the second element of the diphthong. The vowel in “fleece” stands alone, without the addition of a preceding schwa. “Goose” has a single vowel, not elongated. “Cure” has a liquid “u” and is two syllables. Note the lip rounded vowel used in “comma,” “odd” and “cloth,” and the further lip rounding in the vowel in “lawyer.” The diphthong in “around” and “tower” is not as forward as that of her peers. The vowel in “stressed,” “mess” and “dress” is elongated and inflected downward, as is the diphthong in “name.” Conversation about her childhood: Vowels are slightly more retracted, and consonants are about the same. The replacement of the diphthong for a vowel in “time,, “I’m,” “my,” etc., continues, as does the elongation of the vowel discussed above, which we also hear in “hedge” and “bread.” However, in addition, she elongates and slightly retracts the vowel in “ugly,” “cousins,” “front” and “up.” The pure vowel in “limb” has a schwa added to it, and “all,” “walk” and “talk” are all lengthened by a schwa. Note the vowel in “catch” and the final vowel in “granddaddy,” as well as the front vowel as part of the diphthong in “mouth.” Note the two-syllable pronunciation of “there” and “door.” In this part she may shorten “-ing” to “in’,” as in “havin’.” This is not consistent.



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