Friday, November 02, 2018

Lamb in His Bosom

Earlier this fall a friend suggested I read Caroline Miller's 1933 novel, Lamb in His Bosom. The novel chronicles the lives of a pre-Civil War, non-slaveholding rural Georgia family.

I was struck by several words in the rural Georgia antebellum dialect that were similar or identical to words still in use on Ocracoke today (although mostly by older native islanders). Here are four of them:
  • Give-y -- "Vince would come in with his cowhide boots caked in mud, and give-y with wet...." (Clothes hung out on a clothesline can get stiff when dry; they are described as "give-y" when still damp.)
  • Lightsome -- " as the sky's coloring, lightsome as the wanton burst of down from a thistle's bloom...." (Ocracokers use "some" as a post-positional adverb in place of the adverb "very." E.g. "It's cold some today!" or "She is pretty some!")
  • Cunning --  "...the creek...flowed into the river's cunning serpent way that would in time seek out the sea." (Older Ocracokers use "cunning," not as "deceitful," but meaning "attractive," "quaint," or "clever.")
  • Doset -- "[She] took a doset morning, noon and night." (On the island a doset [rhymes with "toast"] is not only a quantity of medicine, but also an infection or other illness. Islanders also use the word as a verb. E.g. "He was doasted right!" 
  • Zilphey -- "She named Zilfey Trent for her mother's dead mother in Carolina." (Zilphia was an Ocracoke Howard family name in the mid-19th century.  Although never a very common name, it was more popular 150-200 years ago. Today only one in every 185,000 babies is named Zilphia.
This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is Lachlan Howard's essay about the Fresnel Lens and its use in theater, solar ovens, cameras, and industry, as well as lighthouse illumination. You can read it here:

1 comment:

  1. An observant and grammatically correct reader pointed out a mistake in this post (I called an adverb a preposition). It was a mistake made in haste (I really do know the difference!), and have made the correction. Thank you Alma!