Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Visiting Linguist

Last weekend Paula Dickerson visited Ocracoke once again. Paula works with Walt Wolfram, linguist from NC State who has been studying the Ocracoke brogue for more than fifteen years. Walt and his staff are hoping to put together another CD of stories told by native islanders. They are looking for more female voices so I put them in touch with Blanche.

Paula spent nearly two hours recording Blanche, and she was so happy to meet her and preserve a number of her stories. Paula was amazed at the clarity of the stories, and the wealth of local information (about hunting, gardens, hurricanes, shipwrecks, and other lore) that Blanche shared. Toward the end of the interview Paula asked Blanche about words peculiar to Ocracoke. Among others Blanche offered "termagant." This was a new word for Paula.

Look for more about termagant tomorrow.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is Lou Ann's story about volunteering for turtle patrol with the National Park Service. You can read her story and see her pictures here:


  1. N. C. Wyeth titled one of his paintings "The Termagant." If I recall correctly, it portrayed a shriveled-up, ill-tempered old woman pointing a bony finger at someone and shrieking hell fire and damnation. Thank God my wife isn't like that.

  2. Anonymous2:08 PM

    well I was going to wait patiently for tomorrow and Philip's definition but now I just had to google the word and well i could spend an hour reading the stuff but I shall sip my iced coffee and see what katie is up to.

  3. Anonymous6:11 AM

    In a related topic I suppose a newspaper is read on the island and if so does the newspaper/weekly run the Jumble-- the world jumble puzzle-- and if so is there a friendly rivalry as to who can complete the puzzle the fastest--- or is there a community effort as one struggles and each day gets better at visually unscrambling the word?