Are Ocracoke’s dingbatters being replaced by tourons?

Dingbatter, a term used on the Outer Banks for ‘outsiders and nonnatives,’ is a regionalized word within the state and most concentrated in Ocracoke….

“On the 1970s sitcom ‘All in the Family,’ the term ‘dingbat’ was used by Archie Bunker to refer to his wife, Edith…. It was appropriated and extended by residents of Ocracoke when islanders first received access to regular television during that period….. It seemed like a perfect way to describe the lack of common sense sometimes exhibited by tourists, replacing earlier terms for outsiders such as ‘foreigner’ and ‘stranger’. While it is still in use today, it is losing ground to the blended term touron, a combination of ‘tourist’ and ‘moron’…..”

— From “Talkin’ Tar Heel: How Our Voices Tell the Story of North Carolina” by Walt Wolfram and Jeffrey Reaser (2014)


Is ‘Scots-Irish’ supplanting ‘Scotch-Irish’?

“I love that you said ‘Scotch-Irish’ instead of this new term ‘Scots-Irish’ that you hear….”

— D.G. Martin, interviewing Walt Wolfram on “North Carolina Bookwatch” (May 18)

I was surprised to hear “Scots-Irish” described as the newer usage, but sure enough…. 


Let’s just agree that ‘Cackalacky’ is NOT German

“At the very least, we can definitively trace the term to 1937, when it was used in a popular song. It is likely that Cackalacky’s etymology runs much deeper, however….

“It may have arisen from a kind of sound-play utterance used to refer to the rural ways of people from Carolina — a play on the pronunciation of the state.  Another hypothesis is that Cackalacky was derived from the Cherokee term tsalaki, pronounced ‘cha-lak-ee,’ the Cherokee pronunciation of Cherokee. Yet another hypothesis traces it to a cappella gospel groups in the American South in the 1930s, who used the rhythmic (but apparently meaningless) chant clanka lanka in their songs. Derivations related to the German word for cockroach (kakerlake) and a Scottish soup (cockaleekie) have also been suggested….

“Certainly the popularity of Cackalacky has risen in the last decade, and it has now become a positive term of solidarity used throughout the state. We favor the sound-play etymology for Cackalacky, but we are honesty just venturing our best guess….”

— From “Talkin’ Tar Heel: How Our Voices Tell the Story of North Carolina” by Walt Wolfram and Jeffrey Reaser (2014)

This is not, of course, the Miscellany’s first or even second swat at the elusive origins of Cackalacky, and it likely won’t be the last.