How to Sound Like a Local When You Move to Little Rock

Even native Arkansans aren’t sure what to call a local from Little Rock (Little Rockian? Little Rocker? Little Rockite?), but visitors and newbies alike can catch on quick that there is a sure way to sound like one.

If you’re making the move to Little Rock, you’ll notice the locals here speak with their own flare, pronunciations, and colloquialisms. From regional sayings to local slang, this cheat sheet will have you sounding like a Little Rocker … er … someone from Little Rock in no time.

Rodney Parham.

This main road connects many of the top restaurants and neighborhoods in Little Rock, but is often butchered by visitors wanting to sneak a little “ham” in the name. Cut the pork and pronounce it Rod-knee Pair-um.

Bless your heart.

Don’t be fooled by this seemingly endearing phrase. It’s not always used to preface a compliment; in fact, when someone from Little Rock says, “Bless your heart,” it’s often meant as an insult.

Cantrell Road.

To outsiders, pronouncing this main road may seem like a no-brainer, i.e., can + trell = Cantrell. That formula doesn’t add up in Little Rock though, as locals slur the name to Can-trull.

What’s for supper?

Locals use the word dinner more to mean “a time of dining” than a specific mealtime. Around here, dinner is called supper. Although you can have dinner for lunch and dinner for supper, you’ll never hear about locals having supper any other time than in the evening.

Who let The Hogs out?

The University of Arkansas Razorbacks football team is something sacred in Little Rock, as the city hosts a portion of the games in town and acts as a second home for the team. But no one calls them the Razorbacks here. Around town they’re known simply as “the Hogs.”

Chenal

Both a street and a neighborhood, the name Chenal actually stems from the Shinnall Mountains nearby. Over the years, developers opted for a slightly more French version, changing the spelling to Chenal but leaving the pronunciation as Shin-all.

Yonder.

If you ask for directions around Little Rock, you’d be lucky get an answer containing cardinal directions (i.e., “north of Cantrell,” or “just east of the river”). More than likely you’ll get a less descriptive—but equally as efficient if used properly with the right body language and hand gestures—response of “over yonder” or “just yonder way” to point you in the right direction.

Folks.

Pronounced fokes, this term is use used mainly to describe parents, as in, “How’re your folks doin’?”

Cheesedog.

This hot dog stuffed with cheese was invented in Little Rock, and is traditional fare for barbeques, ballgames, and everything in between.

Kanis Road.

Remember to keep the “K” in this Little Rock road, as it’s pronounced Kay-nis, not Canis.

Fixin’ to eat some fixin’s

In Little Rock, there’s never a need to put the “g” on this commonly used word as you can be fixin’ to go somewhere (i.e., getting ready to go somewhere), you can bring all the fixin’s (i.e., side dishes, or accouterments to a meal) to your Sunday potluck, and you can even be fixin’ that broken sink.

Petit Jean.

Although this mountain technically sits just outside of Little Rock city limits, it’s a popular spot for weekend getaways or early morning hikes. The mountain plays a big role in the state’s French history, but it never took on the French pronunciation, as locals refer to it as Petty Jean.

Kin to.

The South is big on relationships, but in Little Rock that mainly translates to a person’s direct family lineage within the state. Being “kin to” someone is to be directly related to someone, and often when a person from Little Rock is asking you who you are “kin to,” they’re trying to find out if they know one of your relatives.

Quapaw

The name of Downtown Little Rock’s historic section is named after a Native American tribe that originally called the state home. The correct pronunciation is Quaw-paw, and the historic district is best known around Little Rock as the Quapaw Quarter.

The Big Dam Bridge.

Even though you’d be hard pressed to find anyone in Little Rock who doesn’t appreciate the irony, humor, and edginess associated with the name of the city’s most famous bridge, locals rarely use the full name. Instead, many just refer to it as “the bridge

 



Kristy Alpert