North Carolina is home to a multitude of dialects – which means there is often hot debate on how to pronounce some of the places across the Tar Heel state.
Maps of commonly mispronounced North Carolina towns, counties and landmarks made the rounds on social media this week, stirring up arguments among natives from across the state, as well as transplants still learning how not to embarrass themselves when talking about Kure Beach (KURR-ee Beach) or Buncombe County (BUNK-um County).
Robert E. Allison created a map on his website robslink.com with commonly mispronounced places in North Carolina, including Beaufort (BOE-furt), Bertie County (burr-TEE County) and Durham (DURR-um). Hover your mouse over the locations and the “proper” pronunciation is revealed.
The Louis Round Wilson Library at UNC-Chapel Hill also has a map full of names, plus the names pronounced in short audio clips. Click on the counties on the map or the names below to hear the pronunciations or view phonetic spellings.
Wendell tells a story of the Wake County town’s naming and dual pronunciations on its website.
“As this area grew, a small village was forming. The people in this area needed a name for their little town. They asked their schoolteacher, M.A. Griffin, to come up with a name for this area. Mr. Griffin loved the poet Oliver Wendell Holmes. He suggested that they call their town Wendell after the poet. However, the pronunciation of the town is different from the way one normally pronounces Oliver Wendell Holmes.
“After the train came to town, the porters on the train would call out ‘WENDELL.’ They pronounced each syllable with emphasis. The townspeople picked up on this pronunciation, and it continues to this day.”
For more information, go to library.unc.edu/wilson/ncc/talk-like-a-tar-heel or robslink.com/SAS/democd73/mispronounced_north_carolina.htm.
Tar Heel and Triangle spell check
The correct spelling of several commonly misspelled places in North Carolina:
▪ Buffaloe Road (Yes, add that E at the end)
▪ Capital Boulevard (NOT Capitol)
▪ Cary Towne Boulevard
▪ Creedmoor Road (NOT Creedmore)
▪ Forsyth County (No E)
▪ Governors Club (with no apostrophe, and it’s in Chatham County)
▪ Greene County (Add the E)
▪ Great Smoky Mountains (No E in Smoky)
▪ High House Road in Cary (Not Hi-House)
▪ High Point (It’s two words)
▪ Holly Springs (Plural)
▪ Kildaire Farm Road (Not plural)
▪ Lead Mine Road (It’s two words)
▪ Mecklenburg County (Correctly spelled with U in NC, but an E in Virginia)
▪ New Bern (Two words)
▪ Stanly County (No E)
▪ Ten-Ten Road
▪ Willow Spring (Not plural)
▪ Wilson’s Mills (Yes, there’s an apostrophe and Mills is plural)