Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Gotta Love Dem Yoopers

One of the first papers I wrote while working on my MA (and one of my favorite subjects still) was about the dialect of English used in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. This dialect has been called Yooper Talk, Yoopanese and Yooponics based on the the word Yooper.

Yooper has become such a commonplace term for the residents of the Upper Peninsula that it has even gained mention in the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. The definition is listed as “A native or inhabitant of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The etymology is from UP, which is the abbreviation for Upper Peninsula.

The dialect has also been called Finglish because of the strong Finnish influence on the phonology, grammar and vocabulary of the dialect in the Upper Peninsula. While speakers of the dialect follow rules that vary from those of Standard American English, they follow these rules because they are rules that are based on the original language that helped form the dialect. In sum, this does not mean that these people have poor grammar, are using sloppy, lazy speech or are any less intelligent than those who speak what is considered Standard American English.

Following is an example of pronunciations in the U.P dialect that differ from Standard American English: dese, dem, dose and da instead of these, them, those and the
both pronounced as bot with a soft t

The Finnish influence is shown here by the lack of the “th” sound. The Finnish language does not have this sound and this results in the use of the “d” sound in place of the English “th” sound and the use of the soft t sound at the end of words that end in th.

As I previously mentioned, this is one of my favorite subjects so check back for more about the U.P. and Yoopers in the near future.


Anonymous said...

How very interesting. My comment is more like a question. Do the Yooper's also write the way they speak? If so, when playing scrabble, are they allowed to use these words?

Tanya said...

Let's try this again....
I have a great CD that was made at my Grandma's 100th b'day party in Chassel. All Finn's.
My Aunt read a great story that she wrote about growing up and it contains many Finnish words, Yooper slang.
I'll give you a copy - if you want - next weekend.
Maybe you can find something to put in your blog.

A-Yooper said...

I happen to be a yooper, but I do not always say stuff like that. I tend to say "Ya" and "Eh?" (at the end of some sentences), but not so much of "Dem, dese, dose, da". I tend to say Dat though.

Go Yoopers!

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