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February 10, 2013 11:39 PM   Subscribe

How To Speak Minnesotan [slyt]
posted by cthuljew (45 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
That's different.
posted by louche mustachio at 11:46 PM on February 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


Not too bad, though.
posted by louche mustachio at 11:54 PM on February 10, 2013


Pay close attention to the elaborate "accepting on the third offer" ritual. It's a thing.


Also. NO TOUCHING.


I am not From Here, but I notice when things in Minnesota are clearly Not Minnesotan.

For instance, I adore the light rail line (and am excited for more) but all the cars always have four seats in the back on each side that are facing each other, cozy chatty group style. These seats are rarely occupied by more than two people, even when the train is packed.

The person who designed those seats?

Not Minnesotan.

I do not know this for an absolute fact, but would bet a large, but not audaciously large, sum of money on it.
posted by louche mustachio at 12:21 AM on February 11, 2013 [8 favorites]


OMG, it's a cookbook!
posted by maudlin at 12:22 AM on February 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Loved it. Guy reminds me of Super Dave Osborne. The Coen brothers are from Minneapolis, and they nailed some of this in Fargo.
posted by Rich Smorgasbord at 12:25 AM on February 11, 2013


It starts to get a little different right around the 15-minute Slow-Decay Snack Cakes.
posted by jimmythefish at 12:40 AM on February 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Most amusing! This would have been good posted in the original Ask vs Guess culture thread.
posted by Coaticass at 12:53 AM on February 11, 2013


"What's in that Tupperware?" "Oh, it's some of that Norwegian taco salad..."
posted by koeselitz at 3:26 AM on February 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


What I say is, what's wrong with a monotone. At least you don't startle anybody.
posted by salvia at 3:27 AM on February 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


The most mind-boggling part of this video was the bit at the end that said "(c) 1992" and not 1982, as I would have expected from every example of dress, hairstyle, home decor, and automotive and computer technology presented within.
posted by Diablevert at 4:41 AM on February 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Holy shit.

Did you know that Thunder Bay is right across the Canadian border from Minnesota?

That's where my partner's family is from.

Well, also, Finland.

Who knew that simple geography could explain so much.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:00 AM on February 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


As a lifelong Minnesotan, I cannot even tell which phrases are part of the joke and which ones are just regular speech.
posted by soelo at 5:42 AM on February 11, 2013 [9 favorites]


As someone raised in Minnesota, I have a hard time with the movie Fargo.
posted by ZeusHumms at 5:51 AM on February 11, 2013


Why, Zeus? It's a fantastic movie.
posted by kavasa at 6:02 AM on February 11, 2013


I lived in MN for many years, and yes, the accents in Fargo were completely over the top. An extreme exaggeration of reality. But that is what made the movie for me! Here is one of my favorite exchanges
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 6:08 AM on February 11, 2013


Wow....26 minutes on how to talk MN and not a mention of the real use of "borrow me" instead of "lend". Here is an example:

You: Could you borrow me 50 bucks? I have hit a rough patch this month.
Me: You bet. But why don't cha take 100 bucks. I'm doing pretty well myself.
You: Ohh noo, I could't do that.
Me: Please, take it.
You: Well, Ok, you know I'll get it back to ya next month. I've got a new job lead up Anoka way. Is next month OK?
Me. You bet.
You: But there is a chance it will fall through. So it might be a lot longer before I have it.
Me: Whatever.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 6:28 AM on February 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


Pay close attention to the elaborate "accepting on the third offer" ritual. It's a thing.

(I may have told this story in a previous MN-speak thread - sorry, if so)

Mr. Culp & I are both MN raised, but we were living in the south when the kid was born. The day after we got home from the hospital, someone from church called to see how we were doing and if we needed help with anything.

"Oh no, we're doing fine, thanks so much though!" I said, Midwesternly.

"OK!" she said.

And no one ever came.
posted by Flannery Culp at 6:36 AM on February 11, 2013 [21 favorites]


From the moment he says, "We might as well get started, ..." you know you are in for a treat.

Thanks for this.
posted by devious truculent and unreliable at 6:38 AM on February 11, 2013


I grew up on Da Range in Northern MN. Haven't been back there for over a quarter of a century and I still have these mannerisms that folks out here on the West Coast think are odd. I've mostly lost the accent, though, so it could be worse.
posted by leftcoastbob at 6:39 AM on February 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


I now think that people from Minnesota must have Scandinavian ancestry? This sounds like home to me. Including the "borrow me" thing, incidentally. And not really getting the joke when I was watching the film.
posted by mumimor at 6:55 AM on February 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


mumimor: C/o Wikipedia: German (38.6%), Norwegian (17.0%), Irish (11.9%), and Swedish (9.8%).
posted by cthuljew at 7:02 AM on February 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Loved the part around ten minutes where he analyzes the two old men talking and their body language. My grandpa Wilfred Plocher of Waconia, MN, who just turned 90 years old, has one of those incredible accents, and thicker still. Sad to watch those unique voices dying out.
posted by Corduroy at 7:08 AM on February 11, 2013


They nailed some of this in Fargo.

You got that right.
posted by gimonca at 7:15 AM on February 11, 2013


As a Minnesotan engaged to a non-Minnesotan, I've explained most of these, as well as "uff da". She also has to endure our Minnesotan recipes when we visit, or when I crave comfort food.

I leave you with this recipe for my mom's Minnesota taco salad:

Cook ground beef with Old El Paso taco seasoning. Combine with canned black olives, tomatoes, iceberg lettuce, shredded cheddar cheese, and Tostitos round tortilla chips. Dress with equal parts Ortega taco sauce and French dressing (so it's not too spicy.) Serve chilled, so the chips get slightly soggy.

(I honestly crave this at summer picnics).
posted by nakedmolerats at 7:16 AM on February 11, 2013


I just want to point out to make it super clear for everyone and all that there is no joke.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:31 AM on February 11, 2013 [10 favorites]


The idioms and phrases for Minnesotan spread into Wisconsin and all of North Dakota, and parts of South Dakota as well. It's a heckuva deal, then.
posted by Ber at 7:39 AM on February 11, 2013


I'm a born-and-raised Minnesotan (fourth generation, all great-grandparents came over from Norway) and I remember watching this back in the 90's. I also grew up listening to A Prairie Home Companion.

How to Talk Minnesotan and A Prairie Home Companion are two things that I never realized were supposed to be funny until I moved out of Minnesota. Listening to Garrison Keillor ramble was like visiting my Uncle Jerry and Aunt Mary. When he calls up his mother and she guilts and berates him? That's like me talking to MY mother now. This guy in "How to Talk Minnesotan" could be my Uncle Stan, giving perfectly useful cultural advice to non-Minnesotans. I had no idea that my way of speaking and acting was so vastly different and totally weird to others. Not until I moved out of the region (to Colorado) and people would love to hear the thick accent come out thanks to a couple of beers.

Corduroy, don't worry about the voices dying out. There are people up here on the North Shore and on the Iron Range that sound just like that. H E Double Hockey Sticks, there are kids that live down my block who sound like that! Every day I sound more and more like that.

I hope that I never lose my Minnesotan accent. I wouldn't say that I'm proud of being a Minnesotan, it's nice enough. It's not too bad. Winters are tough, but that keeps the riff raff out.
posted by Elly Vortex at 7:44 AM on February 11, 2013 [9 favorites]


For the record, being part of a Jewish immigrant family in Minnesota, we fit right in.
posted by cthuljew at 7:49 AM on February 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


I actually don't think I realized that A Prairie Home Companion was supposed to be funny until I read your comment, Elly Vortex. Is this why I've never 'gotten' that program?
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 8:18 AM on February 11, 2013


Born and raised in Minnesota--even stayed there through graduate school. That others don't offer three times has tripped me up on a number of occasions. One time I remember in particular was when I was a grad student and my advisor was too busy to pick up a visiting professor. I volunteered to pick him up from the airport and take him to dinner. I kinda sorta assumed that the visiting professor would pay for dinner--in fact, that's kinda sorta why I offered (as a grad student I was always looking for free food). Anyway, when the check came he said, "let me pay for you," and I said, "No, that's alright." to which he responded, "alright, you owe $xx.xx." I was stunned. He had already calculated the exact amount that I owed--perhaps he knew that I would decline on the first offer. The funny thing is that even after having this sort of thing happen multiple times, I *STILL* decline on the first offer, although I do break convention and accept on the second offer more these days.
posted by Dead Man at 8:35 AM on February 11, 2013


six-or-six-thirty, I guess I mean more "funny strange" than "funny ha ha".
posted by Elly Vortex at 8:50 AM on February 11, 2013


How to Talk Minnesotan also became a musical at the suburban Plymouth Playhouse (trailer), which they ran for five years, constantly revamping it for various seasonal shifts, thus allowing them to endlessly cannibalize the same material and play it to the same audience over and over again, which is a business model I respect, if don't always enjoy.

I saw the musical quite a few years ago, and it was cute; it was very much in the Prairie Home Companion mode, about rural Minnesotans spending time together, populated with jokes about Lutherans and long goodbyes and how many times you must offer food before somebody will actually take it. And lately I have been thinking that this sort of theater is important, and I would like to see it done well, but, failing that, I am fine with seeing it done in a slight but fun way. It's important that people recognize and celebrate their regional peculiarities. We live in an enormous country -- my drive from Minneapolis to Omaha, where I currently live, just takes me through Iowa, but, in Eastern Europe would take me from Bosnia, through Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia, and into Greece.

And there is a cultural tendency in America to treat most of the country and sort of an undifferentiated mass, or as a collection of rednecky hillbillies -- I mean, 30 Rock makes remarkably specific jokes about the difference between Harvard and Princeton, but takes a character from Georgia and makes his world one of sheep marriage, marauding hill people, and incomprehensible fundamentalism, replacing specific humor for broad caricature. The Mary Tyler Moore show had its main character, a news producer, unaware that there were Mexicans in Minneapolis (this is on ongoing complain of mine). And I know that I can't really expect popular culture to be responsible for regionally specific work (although the number of Minnesota/Wisconin-specific jokes in Mystery Science Theater 3000 was dazzling), and so local artists are going to be the only ones who can represent a region.

A lot of artists seem to be afraid of it, and I am not clear why. The Coen Brothers did quite well with Fargo, which I think could be called How to Talk Minnesotan: The Murder Mystery. I suppose there is concern that doing work that is very specific to a region will limit it to audiences from that region, but I have found the opposite to be true. People are fascinated by culturally specific work. And, also, so what if it is only appealing to locals. Not all art has to be created for a mass audience. Sometimes there is great value in creating work for a very specific community, that reflects their experiences and their idiosyncrasies.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:57 AM on February 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


I think APHC is overly dry observational humor, but if people haven't observed the behavior, it's lost on them. Conversely, if that is all you have observed, like I said upthread, it can be hard to distinguish the jokes from the narrative.
posted by soelo at 9:02 AM on February 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


The other thing is what a power struggle it can be when you're trying to actually refuse something, but the other party thinks you're just doing the polite 'refuse-3-times' thing. As a teenager, I went out to eat a lot with my best friend's family. My frugal mother always drilled into me that I should always pay for my own meal, and I always sincerely offered to, but they would never let me. So there was always this terrible dance where I'd offer to pay for myself, they'd say "oh no, don't worry about it", and I had to keep trying to refuse their payment.

Anxiety about mine and my friend's relative social class positions ensued. *I'm mostly over it.
posted by nakedmolerats at 9:14 AM on February 11, 2013


As a person who was raised in new york by a (expat? :-)) mother born in minneapolis, I had no idea the soggy chip casserole was a regional thing. This explains... a lot. Also, my complete confusion about our interaction at home vs the "outside" world.
posted by smidgen at 9:39 AM on February 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why do I find myself irresistibly drawn to these Minnesota threads? I'm not from Minnesota and I don't think I know anyone who is, but the culture just fascinates me. Maybe I ought to plan a trip to see these alien life forms in person.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 9:55 AM on February 11, 2013


Fargo is always mentioned as a pop culture reference to Minnesota, but where's the love for Rose Nylund?
posted by Room 641-A at 9:57 AM on February 11, 2013


Don't forget Marshall Eriksen either. Being from St. Cloud, he doesn't have as many farm animal stories as Rose does, but his mom does make a mean 7 layer salad.
posted by soelo at 11:49 AM on February 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


That's not how the Minnesotan talked in the Superbowl commercial mon.
Land of 10,000 Lakes. The Gopher State!
posted by spock at 12:02 PM on February 11, 2013


Born and raised in South Dakota until the age of 6, then my family moved to TN. My social skills vary wildly from pitch perfect well adjusted to agonizingly awkward depending on the situation. Mostly awkward, so much confusion, as the politely declining bit haunted me for years. "Why does no one want to let me have more food?" while waiting for the 2nd offer....

Also, not explaining to your young child the differences between your hometown midwestern Baptist church and your new weird as shit Southern Baptist Church is a recipe for confusion. Claiming they were the same led to many questions, eventual distrust of religious institutions, and ultimately, the dissolution of faith with all religious organizations. So thanks.
posted by Lithopedian at 12:19 PM on February 11, 2013


Wisconsinite here, I didn't realize that the polite "no, but thanks... no, I'll be fine... Oh, ok, fine, then..." I didn't realize that wasn't considered normal. I've heard that MN is passive aggressive (from my old friend who ended up marrying a woman out there). Must be more to it, I guess, than just what I'd considered politeness.

I remember coming back from his house, and stopping at a restaurant, and two ladies were talking and I heard them say "Can we have two more waters"... And first, it wasn't "can we have some more water" it was numerical and secondly it was plural, and the plural wasn't a "z" sound like I think of when I think of plural water, it was a soft "s" sounds like "Sam" or "Steve" or "Soooo whatcha havin' ta drink?"

It threw me for a loop, hearing the soft S at the end.
posted by symbioid at 5:17 PM on February 11, 2013


Why do I find myself irresistibly drawn to these Minnesota threads? I'm not from Minnesota and I don't think I know anyone who is, but the culture just fascinates me. Maybe I ought to plan a trip to see these alien life forms in person.

...or not. No big deal really.
posted by mygoditsbob at 7:05 PM on February 11, 2013


My brother (in St. Paul) works with a guy who coined his own IM neologism: YB. It means, "You betcha" in instant messaging conversations.

I tried it out on my boss this week and he didn't ask for elaboration. I am going to keep using it to see how popular I can get it to be.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:17 PM on February 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, I can't wait to call my parents back in MN and humble-brag about all the snow we got here in New England this weekend. I will find a way to casually mention how I made sure to amble down to the end of the street with my snow-thrower, and clear out the snow that the lazy town guys left there. They'll be so proud, while also getting to silently judge me for bragging -- a two-fer!

I love making people happy. :7)
posted by wenestvedt at 7:18 PM on February 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


I bought and read Howard Mohr's book How to Talk Minnesotan when it came out in 1987. As a 20-something Texan, Prairie Home Companion fan who'd never been to Minnesota, I enjoyed it.
posted by neuron at 9:54 PM on February 11, 2013


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