Kings Mountain, North Carolina

If you've heard of Kings Mountain, North Carolina, it's probably as the site of a 1780 battle in the Revolutionary War, which is often regarded as a turning point for American forces against the British. The mountain itself, near the town, is pictured to the right.

Some History

The so-called Overmountain Men who won the battle came down from the Appalachian Mountains to Kings Mountain - part of a string of small peaks running along the North/South Carolina border.

People continued to come from the west and north over time, especially to work in the cotton mills that dominated the town from the early 20th century until the textile industry left late in the century. (In fact, my own family roots are in the Brushy Mountains to the north.)

The area is a hearth of regional music - bluegrass great Earl Scruggs was from near Kings Mountain, and current country music star Jimmy Wayne is from Kings Mtn. And it's known for its maniacal dedication to basketball - National Basketball Association player David Thompson played for one of our high school rivals. Automobile racing, both stock car and drag racing, have long been big.

dialect facts

Linguistically, it's an even more interesting place ... geographically in the western Piedmont but shaped by the above-mentioned migrations from the mountains. Some dialect maps (including the Atlas of North American English's general maps) show it within the "Inland South" or "Upper South", and others to the east of that boundary, often on the border between upper and lower Atlantic Southern.

I remember it as a place with tons of linguistic variation, regional, socio-economic and ethnic. (Trivia bit: The Dictionary of American Regional English lists at least one term, hosepipe in the meaning 'garden hose', as typical of this little area.)

About all of the salient regional features I grew up hearing and using have been discussed widely on LINGUIST, of course: the second person plural pronoun y'uns and double modals like might could, for example. It is also a way to keep up on research in this area I don't actually work in - I only learned about some interesting work on Appalachian English from reading LINGUIST, like this and this.


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