Monday, May 25, 2009


Maybe once a week or so Lachlan and I will stroll down Howard Street and over to the ice cream and fudge shop at the Community Store Square. Lachlan will examine the ice cream flavors and make his choice (cookie dough and orange sherbet are his current favorites). Then we'll sit on the bench (sometimes he retreats under the bench, teasing me about sharing) to savor the treat. By the time we get to the bottom of the cup Lachlan is often begommed, so we'll walk out on the dock to rinse face and hands.

By now you've probably figured out that begommed means "smeared with..." or "dirtied." It is an island word that you can still hear now and then from island natives. This morning I became curious to see if it is used elsewhere. I discovered the following web site:

This page lists a "Glossary of Mountain Speech, An Excerpt From Southern Mountain Speech" by Cratis D. Williams, and edited with an introduction & glossary by Jim Wayne Miller & Loyal Jones, Berea College Press, 1992.

Both "begommed" and "airish" (today's and yesterday's Ocracoke words) are listed as traditional mountain words. I haven't checked for other words common to both mountain and island traditions, but I'd be surprised if they didn't exist. As the web site notes, "Southern Mountain Speech is not, contrary to popular opinion, an incorrect form of English. It is, rather, the oldest form of English still spoken today. It dates to the time of Chaucer." Much the same can be said about the Ocracoke Island brogue.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a history of paved roads on Ocracoke. It may not sound very exciting, but there have been dramatic changes on the island because of the construction of paved roads a half century ago. You can read the newsletter, and see some rare photos here.

To read about Philip's new book, Digging up Uncle Evans, History, Ghost Tales, & Stories from Ocracoke Island, please click here.


  1. Anonymous7:12 AM

    What about the term "Freener"?

  2. Freener is a nickname for Epherena. You can read the story here:

    Ocracokers typically shortened names and pronounced final "a" as "er." Thus, Armeda (a woman's name) became Meda (pronounced Meeder, or even Meeter).