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By Sarah Kucharski • Staff Writer

Gary Carden was in fifth grade when he learned to be ashamed of his accent.

His teacher, perhaps meaning well, said simply, “‘Gary, you need to change the way that you talk. Your dialect is associated with ignorance and backwardness,’” Carden recalled. “I believed her because I was raised to believe that teachers knew what they were talking about.”

Like hundreds of other mountain folk who grew up listening to “the old folks talking,” I always wanted to be a storyteller. Sitting on the dark end of my granny’s porch on a windy October night, I listened to her tell about the woman who drowned her baby in our spring. “Nights like this, you can hear it cry,” she said. Later, she told me about the night my daddy brought his new bride home.

I’m no expert on regional linguistics, but through the years I’ve delighted in the dialect English still spoken here in the Smokies region. One sometimes hears or reads that it dates back to the Elizabethan era — that is, to the second half of the 16th century, when Shakespeare appeared on the literary scene — or even earlier.

By Michael Beadle

One thing that paralyzes American tourists about visiting foreign countries is the language barrier.

By Michael Beadle

When Lori McLeod first started teaching English as a Second Language at Tuscola High School in Haywood County, she had two students. They didn’t constitute enough to make a class, so she would pull them out of classes for tutoring.

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