Thursday, July 16, 2009

How to Speak Michiganese

We’ve been having a lot of fun trying to master the accent here in Northern Michigan, which primarily involves elongating your “o’s” by pulling in the sides of your mouth. For example, you say, “Oooooooh yeah.” Or “Minnesooooota.” But beyond the accent, there’s also a colorful regional vernacular, which I will now share with you.

The U.P. – Pronounced “the U-P.” This is the Michagenese abbreviation for the Upper Peninsula, the horizontal finger that is north of Lake Michigan and south of Lake Superior. Check out this state map if you don’t follow.

Yoopers – These are people who live in the U.P., which is pretty much an entirely different world. Case in point: the Yooper language was named the official state dialect by the Michigan legislature in 2003.

Trolls – What Yoopers call people who live “below the bridge,” or in other words, south of the famed Mackinac Bridge, which connects the Upper Peninsula and Lower Peninsula. Thus, folks in Grayling, where I am, or Detroit, three hours south, are all trolls.

Fudgies – This is Michiganese for “tourists,” particularly those who visit the popular Mackinac Island area. Apparently there are an inordinate amount of old-fashioned fudge shops on the island. I’ll find out how many when I head there this Sunday, so stay tuned!

Oh, and one more thing. Mackinac is not pronounced "Mak-in-nac," as it would seem. It's pronounced "Mak-in-NAW." Say it wrong, and you'll out yourself as a serious first-time fudgie.


Alison said...

Don't forget the 'a's! A salad is a "say-lid" and my own Aunt calls me "Ay-li."

:) Ali

Kenton said...

the UP can't get no respect ... a state tourism ad ran recently that omitted it on a map, so now there's gonna be hell to pay. You've pissed off the yoopers. Interview with a sate rep who's hopping mad (actually seems quite jovial, as manay Michiganders tend to be) on NPR here:

AVM said...

You're right ay-booooout those a's, Ay-li. I did forget them. I'll start practicing those next!

And thanks for the NPR story, Kenton. Very funny. Informative too. Didn't know the U.P. is 30% of the land mass, but only 3% of the population. Wow. I wonder - if you scream in the U.P., does anyone hear you?