Hyde County, NC

About the Site

Mainland Hyde County is a rural area of farmland and swampland surrounding North Carolina's largest natural lake, Lake Mattamuskeet, in the eastern part of the state. The principal industries are agriculture, fishing and tourism. It is a wildlife haven, containing all or parts of four national wildlife refuges. During the winter, large flocks of swans are a commonplace sight.

The NCLLP conducted fieldwork in mainland Hyde County from 1997 until 1999. During this period, we collected interviews with 83 African Americans and 46 European Americans from Hyde County. We also acquired archival recordings made in 1981 from the Hyde County Historical and Genealogical Society.


Hyde County, NC Hyde County, NCHyde County, NCHyde County, NCHyde County, NCHyde County, NC


The main communities within inland Hyde County are Swan Quarter (the county seat) in the west, Englehard in the east, and Fairfield in the north. Other, smaller communities include Middletown, Nebraska, and the Lake Landing in the east and Rose Bay. History is one attraction of mainland Hyde County; many families can trace their ancestry in Hyde County to colonial times. The Lake Landing Historic District includes a driving tour of 19th century homes and other landmarks, and the Mattamuskeet Lodge (built 1915-16) is another attraction that draws many sightseers. More information is available from the Greater Hyde County Chamber of Commerce (1888-HYDE VAN).

Linguistic Features

The principal aims of our work in Hyde County were:

  1. to compare a how the progress of the Pamlico Sound “brogue” on a mainland site with its development on the island brogue communities that we have surveyed (Harker’s Island, Ocracoke, and, later, Roanoke Island);

  2. to examine the speech of African Americans in an isolated community in which they show an unusual amount of accommodation to the local European American vernacular;

  3. to determine what features of older and newer African American English in Hyde County reveal about the origins and current development of African American English in comparison to European American English


Green, Elaine W. 1998. A Marshland of Ethnolinguistic Boundaries: Conflicting Past and Present Be Paradigms in Coastal Carolina Speech. Master's Thesis, North Carolina State University.

Thomas, Erik R. 2001. An Acoustic Analysis of Vowel Variation in New World English. Publication of the American Dialect Society 85. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Thomas, Erik R. 1999. The North Carolina Language and Life Project's Survey of Hyde County. High Tides 20:31-36.

Thomas, Erik R. 2000. Reevaluating and Refining Peripherality. ERIC document ED 452 711.

Thomas, Erik R., and Jeffrey Reaser. 2004. Delimiting Perceptual Cues Used for the Ethnic Labeling of African American and European American Voices. Journal of Sociolinguistics 8:54-86.

Thomas, Erik R., and Elizabeth L. Coggshall. Forthcoming. Comparing Phonetic Characteristics of African American and European American English. Linguistica Atlantica (Journal of the Atlantic Provinces Linguistic Association).

Wolfram, Walt, and Erik R. Thomas. 2002. The Development of African American English. Language in Society 31. Oxford, UK/ Malden, MA: Blackwell.

Wolfram, Walt, Erik R. Thomas, and Elaine W. Green. 2000. The Regional Context of Earlier African-American Speech: Evidence for Reconstructing the Development of AAVE. Language in Society 29:315-45.