APPENDIX V

THE LANGUAGE OF THE PLAYS

Observations on the Pronunciation of the Dialects of North Carolina

With a few obvious exceptions, the personages depicted in the dramas here printed speak one or another of the dialects used by the uncultured whites and negroes of North Carolina. In connection with this effort to utilize for dramatic purposes the folk speech of a relatively small district of the South, several facts should be borne in mind. In the first place, it is an error to assume, as appears to be done frequently outside the South, that all Southern whites speak practically alike and that the difference between their speech and that of Southern negroes is insignificant. Although, it is true, certain peculiarities of pronunciation and certain turns of phrase are more or less common to all speakers of English in the South Atlantic States, considerable differences both in vocabulary and in pronunciation are discernible between numerous districts of this section, in some instances even when these districts adjoin each other. The dialect spoken by the native whites of eastern North Carolina, for example, is markedly different from that of the Carolina highlands, and among the Blue Ridge and Alleghany mountains clear variations in language may sometimes be noted as one passes from valley to valley or from "cove" to "cove." Again, although it is true that the English-speaking negroes of the South, having borrowed their language from the whites, have much in common with them and have even exerted an appreciable influence upon the speech of their white neighbors, yet no Southerner would confuse the dialect of a typical uneducated Carolina negro with that of even the most backward Carolina white. Moreover, in North Carolina, as elsewhere, dialect varies from family to family and from individual to individual, and even the same person changes his speech to suit his humor, his company, or other occasional circumstances.

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