Residents of This Outer Banks Island Speak a Unique Elizabethan English and Pirates Dialect
Have you heard of Hoi Toider? Well, tune in your ears, as this dwindling Carolinian brogue (or dialect) may be on the brink of extinction.
Here's the scoop, Dingbatters, ahem, tourists or outsiders: On the Outer Banks island of Ocracoke, an ever-decreasing number of residents speak Hoi Toider ("High Tide," if you're looking for trivia night points), a dialect rooted in Elizabethan English, Irish, Scottish, and a wee bit of pirate speak. As the BBC recently reported, the isolated island accessible primarily by boat was a hiding spot for pirates at the turn of the 18th century.
"William Howard was one of those outlaws, serving as quartermaster on Blackbeard's ship Queen Anne's Revenge. Leaving before Blackbeard's final battle in 1718, Howard made his way to Virginia, eventually taking the general pardon offered by King George I to all pirates," writes Brian Carlton, explaining that Howard returned to Ocracoke Island in 1759 after he purchased the idyllic isle for £105. Howard made Ocracoke his home, amongst other former pirates, boat pilots, and a Native American tribe known as the Woccon. Together, this melting pot of around 200 residents gave birth to this unique language, taking expressions and pronunciation styles from each other.
"It's the only American dialect that is not identified as American," Dr. Walt Wolfram, a North Carolina State University professor who is an expert on the dialect and currently works as the director of North Carolina State's Language and Life Project, told the BBC. "That's fascinating to me. You can find pronunciation, grammar structures and vocabulary on Ocracoke that are not found anywhere else in North America." Read the full article on BBC here.
Below, in a video from Great Big Story, watch Wolfram narrate a mini documentary on Hoi Toider, which he predicts will disappear in the next fifty years.
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Of course, highlights of many Outer Banks vacations include beach time, wild horse spottings, and amazing meals with loved ones. But on our next OBX getaway, we may have to rally up the dingbatters for a language lesson on this storied island.