contributed by Dr James Everett Kibler, Jr
LS Cultural Committee Chairman, Maybinton, South Carolina

LESSON SIX

     The August 1998 issue of Chronicles magazine contains an excellent article by Joyce Bennett of Leonardtown, Maryland, on the Southerness of that state. Here, Bennett supplies us more Southern pronunciations, by reporting that ‘a Northern woman . . . had once ridiculed her (Bennett’s 70 year old mother) for pronouncing the word humble with a silent ‘h’ In tribute to our Southern sister Maryland, let’s note then (9.d) humble, pronounced umble. Umble is the way I and my upcountry South Carolina people have always pronounced the word. Bennett also gives us (9.e) boiled, pronounced bald, on which the Bennetts were also taken to task—as well as for (9.f) pee'-can, which a New Yorker (living in Maryland) attempted to correct to pi-kahn'. Bennett writes: ‘Less secure in my identity at the time, I changed the way I said the word.

     Today, however, I say pee'-can to my heart’s content, and ‘New Yorkers’ be damned.’  Hats off to Joyce Bennett. Keep up the good work.  All native Upcountry and Lowcountry South Carolinians of good old families say pee'-can and so do most of the Georgians with whom I usually choose to associate.  The other pronunciations are most frequently from folks who are citified or wish to appear so.   To me, these pi-kahn' folks always sound like they are putting on airs, trying to sound like TV and are ashamed of who they are, or at least of who they think they are.  Most of the South, I think, also says bald.  We in Carolina surely do.

     Perhaps a note on Upcountry Carolina is in order here.  The newspapers and businessmen of the Piedmont of South Carolina have gotten so sophisticated that they will no longer use the word Upcountry, feeling that any association with country is backward.   Striving so hard to be like big-city Atlanta, they foreswore their culturally rich and honourable rural roots. These New-South (No-South?) promoters who sell their goodly heritage daily (hourly) now only allow use of the slick Chamber of Commerce booster’s phrase Upstate.  As we all know, that’s what they call the upper region of New York State.  Always in New Yawk, but never in Carolina.

James Everett Kibler is the LS Cultural Chairman and the author of Our Fathers’ Fields.

Editor’s Note: Dr Kibler will get an argument from other parts of the South about ‘pee'-can.’  Quoting from Dixie Delights, the League of the South cookbook, Pecan Pralines is pronounced ‘puh-cann praw-leens, never pee-can pray-leens.’  [The cookbook is available for $11.00 postpaid from The North Carolina League of the South, 15445 Bethel Avenue Extension, Midland, NC 28107; (704) 377-4064.]