Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Vs & Ws

When I was a teenager spending summers on Ocracoke some of the local boys would often substitute "W" for "V" as the initial sound in many words. So, "Welcome to the village" became "Welcome to the willage." 

Although the boys seemed to be doing this quite self-consciously, this usage has a long tradition on the island. A Scotsman, John Small McWilliams (1823 - 1889), moved to the island at the outbreak of the Civil War. He was an early Ocracoke schoolmaster, and, according to oral tradition, spoke his Vs as Ws.

Blanche remembers many islanders speaking this way when she was growing up on Ocracoke. 

Not long ago I decided to read "Great Expectations" (published in 1861) by Charles Dickens (1812-1870).

Early in the book I noticed that the blacksmith, Joe, speaks like this:

"And you get me wittles,"or "It is in wain for a boy to attempt to hide himself..." or "I find it wery hard to hold that young man off of your inside."

Just one more example of the strong influence from the British Isles that was carried forth in the Ocracoke generations even into the mid-twentieth century. 

You might want to keep this story in mind on your next wisit to the island. 

 Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the day Charles Lindbergh landed on Ocracoke. You can read it here:

I also recently published (retroactively) a 27 item photo gallery of pictures from our recent trip to the Czech Republic, Hungary, & England. You can see them here:

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