The 1920’s and 30’s Weren’t Depressing… Lotus Bradley Plott takes us through her childhood, in the rural Appalachian town of Otto, until graduation and leaving her known world of Western North Carolina. Reminisce with her as the story unfolds through her words and photographs.
The Queen’s English
Everyone in the Otto area where I grew up spoke the Queen’s English. I was a teenager before I realized I spoke differently from other people out of our area. We never went very far, just to our kinfolk in Haywood County who spoke the same way. Then we went right back home.
Years ago, the Travel and Tourism Division, Department of Commerce of North Carolina, printed a small pocket-sized book, “A Dictionary of the Queen’s English.” This was so the tourists could understand the people in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Great Smoky Mountains, the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and over into Cocke County, Tennessee. Queen Elizabeth style correspondence has been traced back to such men as Sir Walter Raleigh, Marlowe, Dryden, Bacon, and even William Shakespeare. The little book is divided into three sections:
1. Definitions of English words and phases still used in North Carolina.
2. North Carolina dialect.
3. Expressions you are likely to hear from the original natives.
This is not so much how we sound the word but variations and use of the word. For instance, I always say, “will you hep me?” not, “Will you help me?” The computer is not accepting the word “hep” now. I make the computer show red a lot since I use a lot of words that can’t be found in the Webster’s Dictionary.
I probably used my way of speaking to my advantage without realizing it. Just before I turned 19 years old, I became a Lumber Wholesaler buying and selling lumber from coast to coast in the USA and Canada. After talking with the men the first time, I never had to tell my name again. They would recognize my voice. Of course it didn’t hurt that I was the only woman Wholesaler in the world during my more than 35-year career.
About fifty years ago, The Vancouver morning paper had printed on their front page under “Around Town”: “A gal from Kingsport, Tennessee, with a strong southern drawl must have got the wrong number on Monday. She wanted a quote on the price of spruce from Eric Lindsey. Eric told her his Park Board connection didn’t mean he could go logging in Stanley Park.” (Stanley Park is a beautiful 1000-acre park in the city of Vancouver.) Even though my name was not mentioned, I received a lot of telephone calls and clippings from my lumber manufacturers in Vancouver, British Columbia. They all knew the item was about me.
I still speak the Queen’s English and have not tried to change.
“I am plumb wore out with this whole affair.”