‘Tarheel Talk’ Exhibit Spices Up Fair

For some extra flavor at this year’s state fair, put down that funnel cake and visit an NC State exhibit that celebrates the state’s rich stew of dialects.

Stop by the main entrance of the Exposition Center to test your ear for language, find out if you’re a dingbatter and take home a colorful button. The booth, sponsored by the North Carolina Language and Life Project, is staffed by linguistics students from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. through Sunday, Oct. 24.

Visitors to the North Carolina Language and Life Project booth at the state fair
State fair visitors find out if they have an ear for Tarheel talk at the North Carolina Language and Life Project booth.

Dr. Walt Wolfram, project director, says the exhibit celebrates one of the state’s greatest cultural resources: its rich legacy of dialects and languages. “North Carolina has one of the most varied dialect landscapes in the United States. Visitors should learn to appreciate that tradition along with the state’s other cultural traditions.”

The exhibit features interactive posters, videos and audio stations that allow you to hear language variations from across the Tarheel State. An interactive quiz will test your knowledge of the difference between Mountain Talk and the Outer Banks dialect.

Visitors have been sporting “I Speak NC” buttons with pride after mastering new terms like “dingbatter” (an outsider on Ocracoke), “sigogglin” (a word for crooked in the mountains) and “juvember” (a Lumbee term for slingshot).

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