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LANGUAGE: North Carolina and Old English



From North Carolina, Mike Sullivan writes: "The unusual English spoken by the Newfies can be found right here in eastern North Carolina on Harkers Island, which is about 35 miles from where we live. A bridge to the island wasn't built until after WWII; the early English settlers and victims of shipwrecks who settled the island were very isolated until the bridge was built. Natives of Harkers Island today speak with, it is said to be, an old Elizabethan accent. All I know is that it's very difficult to understand what they're saying. You must listen closely and then say "Pardon me, would you please repeat what you just said as I missed a little of what you said". Today they're still very close knit and do not like non- Harkers Island people moving there; however, they do like tourists and their dollars. They are famous for building wooden fishing boats that bears the island's name. It's a great departure point if you're going fishing off Cape Lookout or out in the Gulf Stream as you can stay inside the outer banks and be shielded from high winds and seas until you reach the Atlantic Ocean next to Cape Lookout".

My comment: A long strip of outer banks or sandbars, now classified as National Seashores, lies between the Atlantic and the northern part of the mainland of North Carolina, from Kitty Hawk in the north to Cape Lookout in the south. Harkers Island is between Cape Lookout and the mainland. Cape Hatteras, which is the easternmost point of the bow-shaped bank, caused the shipwrecks whose victims Mike mentions. There are a few communities on the banks. I would think that now, with television, the people of these communities would speak American TVese, which has yet to prove its superiority over Elizabethan English.

Ronald Hilton - 7/22/02


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