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There's An Island In The US Where People Have Bizarre British-Sounding Accents

Jake Massey

| Last updated 

There's An Island In The US Where People Have Bizarre British-Sounding Accents

Did you know there's a place in the US where the people talk with a bizarre British-sounding accent? Well, you do now. Check it out here:


Ocracoke Island is situated in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, on the east coast of the States.

The island has a population of fewer than 1,000 people - and this population has an accent unlike any other in the country.

As you can hear in the video above, it is hard to pinpoint the dialect. One moment they sound like they might be from somewhere in Ireland or Scotland, then a moment later maybe somewhere in the west country, or maybe East Anglia... or maybe somewhere in the deep south. Or a pirate ship.

As Dr Walt Wolfram - a professor who has studied the Ocracoke dialect for more than 20 years - told the BBC: "It's the only American dialect that is not identified as American.

"That's fascinating to me. You can find pronunciation, grammar structures and vocabulary on Ocracoke that are not found anywhere else in North America."

The 'Hoi Toider' brogue - named after the distinctive local pronunciation of 'high tide' - stems from the island's unique history and geography.

Over the past few centuries, a small fishing community formed on the island, comprised of natives, as well as English, Irish and Scottish settlers.

People have been fishing off the island for centuries. Credit: Alamy
People have been fishing off the island for centuries. Credit: Alamy

What's more, it was a popular refuge for actual pirates - so if you think the locals sound a bit piratey, that may well be why.

Together this hodgepodge of cut-off islanders merged their varied dialects, resulting in the seemingly unlocatable accent you can hear in the video.

They also exchanged, blended and created slang words of their own, making deciphering them all the more disorientating for mainlanders.

The vocabulary on the island includes the likes of dingbatter, mommucked, pizer, slickcam, whopperjawed and drime - which all sound like cracking words, to be fair.

An example of those words in a sentence would be: "Oh slickcam, that whopperjawed dingbatter has mommucked me, what a pizer drime."

Whether that sentence makes any sense, I do not know. You'll have to ask one of the 900 odd people on the island.

Indeed, it is the isolated nature of the island which has preserved the dialect down the years.

To this day, there are no roads to the island, meaning you have to get there by ferry - and even that option only became available in 1957.

However, the accent is expected to die out within a generation or two, because the internet and TV is preventing locals from being truly cut off like they used to be.

Dr Wolfram explained: "What's happening is that some of these small dialects that thrive on isolation are dying because isolation is a thing of the past.

"They still pick up terms and vocabulary, but when a kid from the island retains a strong dialect, that was the norm and now it's an exception."

Featured Image Credit: The Language & Life Project/YouTube

Topics: US News

Jake Massey
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