September 26, 2007

For all who lack hacking

Fev at Headsup: the Blog caught a great case of cross-dialectal misunderstanding in the Charlotte (North Carolina) Observer ("Tin Ear award of the week", 9/24/2007). The story (since corrected) was about some boy scouts missing on a hike in the mountains:

"We think it's most likely that they realized it was late and they bedded down for the night," said Charity Sharp, of the Cruso Volunteer Fire Department in southern Haywood County. "They were prepared. They knew what they were hacking into. The scout leader is familiar with the area and knew what kind of terrain they were hacking."

Fev's observation: a near-30-year resident of the fair state in question, HEADSUP-L is inclined to suggest that Ms. Sharp said "hiking." H-I-K-I-N-G. Given that they were going on a hike, not trying to steal the Pentagon's launch codes, I mean.

This seems to be some counter-evidence to the claim that "the Southern drawl has expanded to the point where, arguably, more than half of all Americans now glide their diphthongs and hush their Rs like modern-day Rhett Butlers". At least the diphthong part seems not yet to have expanded to include all of the Charlotte Observer's newsroom.

As Fev says,

If you're going to be the Foremost Newspaper of your state, you need to know how its people talk.

Posted by Mark Liberman at September 26, 2007 08:05 AM