Charlotte Slang

by Karan Moses Robinson, an AOL Travel ContributorPosted Sep 23rd 2010 06:56 PM

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Charlotte Slang

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Although Charlotte may not be among the top 10 tourist destinations, it still offers much to do. From seeing a play, a musical or concert at any of the numerous venues around the city to screaming on roller coasters, entertainment is always close by. Whether you're going to the concert of a world famous musician or viewing the exhibit of an up and coming artist, here are some Charlotte slang to help you fit in like one of the locals.


The word "transplant" is a Charlotte slang term for someone who originally hails from another city or state altogether. Transplants are often accused of moving to Charlotte, telling the residents what's wrong with their city and then explaining how they "did it back home." Natives of Charlotte and those who have a lengthy Charlotte residence under their belt usually respond in the same manner by telling the transplant to go on back home if it was such a wonderful place.

Charlotte is full of newcomers, so it's not uncommon to hear the phrase, "Are you a native of Charlotte?" People from all over the United States and other countries have moved to the Queen City for the mild weather or for economic reasons. When two natives meet, inevitably you hear, "There's not too many of us left anymore!" Although there are still plenty of natives in this thriving city of over 716,000, the perceived rarity gives natives a reason to commiserate when feeling outnumbered. When in Charlotte, local lingo tidbits like this are usually a good conversation starter, but proceed with caution since feelings on the subject can run high.

If you meet someone on the street during your visit, don't be surprised if they actually make eye contact and say hello. Charlotte lingo for "hello" is often, "How are you?" If someone greets you like this, just reply, "Fine, thanks, how are you?" and keep on going. You're not expected to give details on how you're really doing, not to a complete stranger--or even to someone you actually know. Southern hospitality does have its benefits. When you move in, it's not rare for a neighbor to welcome you with freshly baked bread or a dessert.

"Bless your heart" is a loaded term all over the South, though it's heard often around Charlotte. A slang phrase that is usually worked into a conversation to mask an insult, it often sounds better on the surface than it's truly intended. Sure, there are people who say this with absolute sincerity, so don't immediately dismiss it. Instead, put it into context. If you hear someone say, "She's never going to find a husband, bless her heart," or "He needs to back away from the dinner table, bless his heart," then you probably have reason for a little cynicism. The "blessing" is a thin disguise for saying how you feel without coming right out and saying it. However, if you fall down and scrape your knee or have car trouble, any "bless your hearts" you get are most likely sincere.

Charlotte is a city full of churches of many denominations, so your neighbor or acquaintances may very well ask where you go to church. I once knew a woman who moved from a northern state and was hesitant to tell people she didn't go to church and wasn't planning on it. Over time, she learned enough about Charlotte local language customs to say she hadn't yet found a church home whenever she was asked. While this resulted in many invitations to church, she politely declined, and everyone's needs were met. She didn't have to commit herself to a church and the questioner had issued an invitation, which was the hospitable thing to do.

Newcomers are easily identified by their mispronunciations of certain words or names. There are two towns in the Charlotte area, Lancaster and Concord, which demand special attention. If you put the accent on the first syllable of Lancaster as in LAN-caster, you're not from around here. If you don't put the accent on the first syllable of Concord, as in CON-cord, you're not from around here. This piece of local lingo easily separates the natives from the newcomers. I knew of a police chief who questioned a suspect who said he'd lived in LAN-caster all his life. The mispronunciation was a dead giveaway and led to an arrest.

Why is it when people talk about Nashville, Houston, Atlanta and St. Louis everyone automatically knows in which state they're located? For some reason, Charlotte needs to be paired with North Carolina for proper identification. So is it truly a "world class city," or is that just another of the many Charlotte slang terms for itself? There are some things to consider, however, when speaking of Charlotte and status. For example, landlocked Charlotte may not have a coastline, 200 year-old pubs or cobblestone streets, but it does have banks. Bank of America, the largest bank in the U.S. and the second largest in the world, has its world headquarters in Charlotte. Additionally, the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce states that Charlotte has $3.2 trillion worth of resources, second only to New York City. Not too shabby, eh? Maybe there's something to that "World Class" status after all!


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