Ummm... "You mean," I replied with an exaggerated twang, "Fayettville?"
Okay, so it's funnier when you can actually hear it. But I cracked up in that moment, realizing suddenly that I had never made the connection between Fayetteville, NC, (or Fayette-nam, as it's sometimes called) and the Marquis de La Fayette.
Anywho, I thought about this story recently as we were driving across the state and laughing about all the ways people mispronounce the names of cities and towns in North Carolina (and don't even get me started on Virginia, given that my relatives are all from the Norfolk/Newport News/Hampton area -- that's "Nah-fahk"). So here, to help out the natives and transplants alike, are five names that might alert the locals that you're not from 'round here.
- Mebane: That's Meh' bin. Not Mee bain. Trust me on this one.
- Topsail Beach: "Topsail" is one word, not two. Don't say Top Sail -- smush it together to be Top' suhl, with emphasis on the first syllable.
- Beaufort: This one is actually a trick name. There are two correct pronunciations, but one is in NC (Bo' fert, with a long o) and one is in SC (Byoo' fert).
- Rowan: Another tricky one, this county name is also a street in my neighborhood. Unlike Brook Shields' daughter by the same name, the county is pronounced Row (as in row, row your boat) Ann' (emphasis on the second syllable).
- Wendell: This town in Wake County is a total switcheroo. Although it actually was named as a nod to the poet Oliver Wendell Holmes, it's pronounced Wen dell' (or almost Win' dail, if you've got enough twang) instead of Wen' duhl.
Congratulations -- you're now one step closer to sounding like you belong here. What's your favorite mixed up location name, here or wherever you're traveling this summer?
Postcard image from APS Online.