Sunday, April 08, 2012

It Were

One very distinctive feature of Ocracoke grammar is the use of "were" for "was." Typical island expressions include comments like "I think it were, buck" and "It weren't me." If you spend much time around islanders it won't be long before you hear this construction.

Not long ago I had dinner with friends who have lived on the island for several decades. They told me this story:

Years ago a couple from off the island purchased a rather large tract of land in the village. Down a sandy path they built a home and a workshop, surrounded by cedars, live oaks, and other vegetation. Their property adjoined an undeveloped tract owned by a native islander.

The islander would periodically visit his property, taking the most convenient path which passed by his new neighbors' home and shop. Their relationship was cordial, and the newcomers always waved and greeted the islander as he walked or biked through.

One afternoon the new property owner was sitting outside in the shade enjoying island life. When the islander walked past the newcomer remarked, "It sure is quiet and peaceful back here."

Without missing a beat the islander replied with just two words.

"It were," he said.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the Rondthalers of Ocracoke Island. You can read it here:

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