Walt Wolfram and Jeffrey Reaser: Mountain myth

May 17, 2014 

Regarding the May 4 book review “ They sound like professors while ‘Talkin’ Tar Heel’ ” by Kenneth S. Allen: Certainly, book reviewers deserve the right to voice any opinion, but this does not include the wanton disregard for facts.

In referring to the “Elizabethan or Shakespearean English of the mountains,” Allen disregards at least three substantive discussions (pp. 128-129; 135-37; 141) in which we expose the myth that mountain English is Elizabethan or Shakespearean English. For example, on page 129, we say, “the notion that Elizabethan English, Shakespearean English or ‘Old English’ can still be heard throughout the Blue Ridge Mountains is not linguistically accurate, and most linguists dismiss it as a romantic myth.”

We were redundant in stressing that point, so it seems inconceivable that anyone who read the book would perpetuate this romantic myth. We trust our readers to engage our book seriously even when it contradicts popular lore.

Walt Wolfram and Jeffrey Reaser

Authors, “Talkin’ Tar Heel”


News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service