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Guide to Pronouncing County Names

John L. Sanders; The author is a former director of the Institute of Government

The proper--that is, the customary local--pronunciation of the names of some North Carolina counties is often a puzzlement to native as well as to newcomer. The very spelling of some county names makes their pronunciation baffling--Cabarrus, for example. In other instances, the spelling suggests a pronunciation, but it is one with which local practice does not agree-Robeson, for example. And in yet other cases, the emphasis in pronunciation is put on a different syllable from the one that seems normal--Bertie, for instance.

The following list has been compiled to provide a ready guide to customary county name pronunciations. The advice of readers on how the guide might be improved would be welcome. (It is recognized that there are local variations that differ from those shown here--some Iredell County residents call their home "ARE-dell," for example--but no attempt has been made to list them here.)

NC Map

North Carolina Counties: Pronunciations

Alamance

AL-a-mance

Gaston

GASS-ton

Pender

PEN-der

Alexander

Al-x-ANDER

Gates

Perquimans

Per-QUIM-ans

Alleghany

Al-i-GAINY

Graham

GRAY-um

Person

PER-sun

Anson

AN-sun

Granville

GRAN-vill

Pitt

Ashe

Greene

Polk

Avery

A-vur-ee

Guilford

GILL-furd

Randolph

RAN-dolf

Beaufort

BO-furt

Halifax

HAL-i-fax

Richmond

RICH-mund

Bertie

Ber-TEE

Harnett

HAR-nit

Robeson

ROBB-i-son

Bladen

BLA-den

Haywood

HAY-wood

Rockingham

ROCK-ing-ham

Brunswick

BRUNS-wick

Henderson

Rowan

Roe-ANN

Buncombe

BUNK-um

Herford

HERT-furd

Rutherford

RUTH-er-furd

Burke

Hoke

HOAK

Sampson

SAMP-sun

Cabarrus

Ka-BARE-us

Hyde

HIDE

Scotland

SCOT-lund

Caldwell

CAH'LD-well

Iredell

IRE-dell

Stanly

STAN-lee

Camden

KAM-den

Jackson

JACK-sun

Stokes

STOAKS

Carteret

KAR-ter-et

Johnston

JOHN-stun

Surry

SURR-ee

Caswell

KAS-well

Jones

Swain

SWANE

Catawba

Ka-TAW-ba

Lee

Transylvania

Tran-syl-VANE-i-a

Chatham

CHAT-um

Lenoir

Le-NOR

Tyrell

TERR-il

Cherokee

CHER-o-kee

Lincoln

LINK-un

Union

 

Chowan

Cho-WONN

Macon

MA-kon

Vance

Clay

Madison

MAD-i-sun

Wake

Cleveland

KLEVE-land

Martin

MAR-tin

Warren

WAR-en

Columbus

Ko-LUM-bus

McDowell

Mc-DOW-well

Washington

Craven

KRA-ven

Mecklenburg

MECK-len-burg

Watauga

Wa-TAW-ga

Cumberland

KUM-bur-lund

Mitchell

MIT-chull

Wayne

WAIN

Currituck

KURR-i-tuck

Montgomery

Mont-GOM-er-ee

Wilkes

WILX

Dare

Moore

MORE

Wilson

WILL-sun

Davidson

DAVE-id-sun

Nash

Yadkin

YAD-kin

Davie

DA-vee

New Hanover

New HAN-o-ver

Yancey

YANT-see

Duplin

DOO-plen

Northampton

Nor-THAMP-ton

   

Durham

DERR-um

Onslow

ONNS-lo

   

Edgecombe

EDGE-cum

Orange

   

Forsyth

For-SYTH

Pamlico

PAM-li-co

   

Franklin

FRANK-lin

Pasquotank

PAS-quo-tank

   

John L. Sanders. "Guide to Pronouncing County Names," Popular Government, Vol. 63, no.3, Spring 1998: pg. 38, published by the UNC-Chapel Hill Institute of Government.

Reproduced by permission of the School of Government, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.