Y’all Talk Funny
Here’s your guide to sounding local.
Ask The Locals and we’ll tell you that WE’RE not the ones who talk funny – it’s everybody else! But we must do some truth tellin’ and admit that here in the South we’ve got words we pronounce in unexpected ways and words we pronounce that other people have never heard before. So here are a few Raleigh terms and Southernisms to get you started so you won’t get lost in translation.
Southern Phrases & Raleigh Terms
Bless Your Heart = A) I’m showing empathy: “Oh, you have a flat tire, bless your heart.” B) I’m throwing passive/aggressive shade at you because you’re pitiful or did something you shouldn’t have: “I see you tried that new TikTok dance, bless your heart.”
Buggy = Grocery cart
Cackalacky = Sometimes used in place of Carolina as in North Cackalacky. (No idea why – but RAL Today took a shot at explaining.)
DTR = Downtown Raleigh
Fixin’ To = About to do something. “I’m fixin’ to mow the yard.”
OBX = Outer Banks (which you would know if you binged Outer Banks on Netflix which was, in fact, NOT filmed in the Outer Banks)
Reckon = I guess, I suppose, I think. “I reckon I should stop procrastinating.”
Supper = Dinner
Sweet Tea = The default for “tea” here. If you do not like lots of sugar in your iced tea, order unsweet tea or half & half tea. If you want tea with a teabag, ask for hot tea.
Tar Heels: UNC-Chapel Hill’s sports nickname – and NC is sometimes called the Tar Heel State. Here’s an explanation of why.
The Beltline = The local name for Interstate 440 which nearly encircles central Raleigh. Living “inside the beltline” means close to DTR. (When someone says “I live inside the beltline” they’re usually humble bragging because most of those neighborhoods are expensive.)
Y’all = You all. Y’all are welcome here. For true Southerners “all y’all” is the plural form.
Appalachian = ap-uh-LATCH-un (not ap-uh-LAY-chun or -shun)
Blount Street = Blunt Street
Beaufort = BOW-fert (The South Carolina town of the same spelling is BEW-fert)
Camp Lejeune = la-ZHOON (the correct way is really la-ZHERN but nobody says it that way)
Durham = DURR-um
Fuquay-Varina = FEW-kway vuh-REE-nuh
Krispy Kreme = Crispy Cream (nobody mispronounces this – we’re just craving NC’s homegrown donuts as we write this). Other NC homegrowns: Vicks VapoRub (1890), Pepsi-Cola (1893), Aviation (1903), Cheerwine (1917), Texas Pete Hot Sauce (1929), Putt Putt Miniature Golf (1954), Universal Bar Codes (1969) and more.
Kure Beach = CURE-ee (not curry, although honestly you’ll hear it both ways)
Mebane = MEB-un
Moredecai = MORE-duh-kee
Ocracoke = OAK-ra-coke
Raleigh = RAH-lee (not Rally, Rarley, Rawly)
The Piedmont = PEED-mont (refers to Central North Carolina of which Raleigh is a part)
Topsail Beach = TOP-sul Beach
Zebulon ZEB-yoo-luhn (not lawn)
The Advanced Course
Raleigh is home to the truly amazing North Carolina Museum of History.
(Seriously, even if you think you hate history museums you will find something to get excited about here.) On the museum’s personality-filled Instagram account, we stumbled across this wonderful pronunciation guide for tricky North Carolina town, city and river names. They add to it periodically – and are now doing video pronunciations – so follow them on Insta!
Alleghany County: al-uh-GAIN-ee
Buies Creek: BOO-ees Creek
Cashie River: kuh-SHY
Chalybeate Springs: ka-LIB-ee-ut
Chowan County: cho-WAHN
Fuquay-Varina: FEW-kway vuh-REE-nuh
Gaston County: GASS-tun
Lake Junaluska: joon-uh-LUSK-uh
Pasquotank River: PASS-kwo-tank
Perquimans County: per-KWIM-uns
Swannanoa River: swan-uh-NO-uh
Tuckasegee River: TUCK-uh-SEE-jee
Tyrell County: TAIR-uhl
Uwharrie River: you-WHAR-ee