A comparison of lexical items in Lumbee Vernacular English from the Pembroke and Prospect communities

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Kerns, Ursulla H. "A comparison of lexical items in Lumbee Vernacular English from the Pembroke and Prospect communities." Thesis. Durham, NC: North Carolina Central U, 2001. 59 pages.


This thesis describes a study conducted by Kerns to determine whether there are variations in the use of twenty lexical items (words and phrases chosen from A Dialect Dictionary of Lumbee English, 1999, and collected from native speakers) by a sample of older adult, middle-aged, and young Lumbee speakers in Pembroke and Prospect. The Lumbee Lexical Item Assessment Survey was given to 120 subjects, divided evenly by gender and among the three age groups. For each age group, half were from Pembroke and half from Prospect. Demographic information (age, gender, educational level, occupation, and number of years residing in the community) was collected. The survey information was tape-recorded and was also noted on a survey form.

For each of the twenty Lumbee lexical items, participants were asked to give a definition of the word or phrase. If they were unable to do so, they were then asked to select the meaning from 3 multiple-choice definitions. If still unsure of the meaning, the participant was asked to use the word in a sentence.

The lexical items are as follows: Lum, toten, on the swamp, yerker, juvember, ellick, mommuck, sorry in the world, jubious, pow wow, ceiver up, big meeting, reckon, gyarb, orta notta, hope-m-clare, frock, sweetnins, middlin’ meat, and doast.

Analysis of the results revealed that middle-aged and older adults used more of the survey items than younger people; use of the items did not differ among Prospect vs. Pembroke residents; there were no gender differences; and middle-aged speakers did not differ from older speakers.

Suggestions for future research include use of lexical items specific to the communities and inclusion of speakers from other Robeson County communities.

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