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Hol Tolde on the Outer Banks By Walt Wolfram and Natalie Schilling-Estes University ofNorth Carolina Press, 1997 Xiv +165 pp. Cloth, $29.95; paper, $14.95 Reviewed by BrilCO Southard, associate professor ofEnglish at East Carolina University, whose research interests focus on die dialects of Oklahoma and North Carolina. His most recent publication, "Pronunciation Variation in Eastern North Carolina," appears in Unguage Variety in the South Revisited (University of Alabama Press, 1997). Separated from the mainland by some twenty miles, Ocracoke Island is the site of one of the oldest villages in the inhabited islands of North Carolina's Outer Banks. Founded in 171 5, when the North Carolina Assembly passed a bill providing for settling and maintaining pilots at Ocracoke Inlet, an important but dangerous passageway through the barrier islands to the mainland ports, Ocracoke village for most of its history has been one of the most isolated communities on the Adantic seaboard. Unlike other of the barrier islands connected to the mainland by bridges, even today Ocracoke is accessible only by ferry service. Indeed , until 1957, when the state first initiated ferry service across Harteras Inlet to a newly constructed road leading thirteen miles to the village at the southern end of the island, the easiest means of gaining access to Ocracoke village was via a mail boat, which made a four-hour trip each morning from Adantic, North Carolina . In 1960 ferry service was also inaugurated between Adantic and Ocracoke. The isolation of the inhabitants of the Outer Banks, and of Ocracoke in particular , has led to the development ofa dialect ofEnglish that has attracted the attention of both language scholars and visitors to the Outer Banks since early in this century. In 1910, for example, Professor Collier Cobb delivered a lecture before an English literature class at Peace Institute in Raleigh that was later published as "Early English Survivals on Harteras Island" (North Carolina Booklet 14 [October i9i4]:9i—99). Detailing word usage that he was able to trace back to Elizabethan equivalents, Professor Cobb ended his lecture by asserting that he had "noted greater changes in the speech of the people since the coming of the daily mail in motor boats, just ten years ago, than he had observed in the preceding thirtyyears, and the songs ofthe mothers and grandmothers are well nigh forgotten by the daughters." The theme of losing a unique dialect is echoed in Robert Howren's "The Speech ofOcracoke, North Carolina (American Speech 37 [October ?902]:?6?-75). Howren noted in his first paragraph that "the motorcar and the ferryboat—a 1 00 Reviews combination inevitably fatal to quaintness and picturesqueness—have brought perceptible changes to the Outer Banks. A good many linguistic archaisms and localisms have long since passed from usage, and inevitably further leveling will eventually result from close and continuous contact with the speech ofthe mainland ." Howren's goal, then, was to record the speech of Ocracoke before it was replaced by "standard" speech. He concluded his article by noting that "the speech of the Outer Banks is obviously a fertile field for investigation, and one too-long neglected. It should be cultivated at once, for the Banks are becoming year by year less isolated and more susceptible to outside linguistic influence." Hoi Toide on the Outer Banks, a work whose tide is meant to reflect one of the most noticeable pronunciations of the Banks dialect, is the cultivated product of an intensive investigation of the language of Ocracoke conducted by Walt Wolfram , William C. Friday Professor of English at North Carolina State University, and Natalie Schilling-Estes, project coordinator for the North Carolina Language and Life Project (ncllp). The ncllp interviewed over seventy longtime Ocracoke residents, whose ages ranged from ten to ninety-one, recording well over one hundred hours of casual conversations that were fully transcribed phonetically by ncllp staffand even subjected to spectrographic analysis with the aid of a Kay Elemetrics Computer Speech Lab. Yet Hoi Toide on the OuterBanks is not a dry academic treatise that details the fronting of back-rounded vowels or looks for the frequency ofoccurrence ofvocabulary items characteristic ofthe Midland or Northern dialect areas. Rather, the work makes such...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-1488
Print ISSN
1068-8218
Pages
pp. 100-102
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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