Thursday, May 15, 2008

More on the Yooper Dialect

Here are some more examples of differences between the dialect found in the Upper Peninsula and the Standard American Dialect:

U.P. Dialect --- Standard American Dialect
Wah --- Wow
Holy wah! --- Really wow
Eh. Okay, --- what or hey
Yah sure-hey --- You’ve got to be kidding. I don’t believe it.
Youbetcha --- Yes, without a doubt

Directional Phrases:
Side by each --- Side by side
Pre’neer --- Pretty near or very close
Kotisva --- Go this way
Kotatva --- Go that way

Grammatical changes:
Let’s go Shop-ko. --- Let’s go to the store.
Make wood --- Split logs

Pank --- To pack down
Swampers --- Rubber boots
Choppers --- Deer skin mittens with a wool insert
Chuke --- French-Canadian knitted hat with a tassel
Lats --- Skis, usually homemade
Sauna --- Finnish steam room
Camp --- Cottage

Pasty --- Finnish or Cornish meat pie
Kala Mojaka --- Finnish fish stew
Juustua --- Finnish cheese

Many of these examples also exhibit the strong influence of the Finnish language on the dialect found in the Upper Peninsula today.

The differing grammatical rules can be seen by the dropping of prepositions in the dialect. This is directly related to the Finnish language as it has 14 declensions of nouns and does not use prepositions. Finnish nouns have the meaning of “to” added as a suffix called a postposition. In addition, the Finnish language does not use articles such as a, an or the. This can be seen in the sentence structure of the dialect as well and in the example of “Let’s go Shop-ko”.

Word borrowing is also used. Some of the words in the dialect are Finnish words including many of the popular foods and some of the directional phrases.


thicke said...

I didn't know whether or not you actually get responses but... Well I just moved from the UP a little over a month ago, but I still have my accent. And of all the accents I have learned over the years (picking them up from the many places I've lived), the yooper accent is most prominent.
I have not picked up the ridiculous speech patterns (ignoring "the" "to", and using really sloppy tacky english), but I have it thick enough to be able to compare it to my current place... Hawaii! I swear, many people think I'm a local due to my accent, which seems rather samoan, apart from me saying Eh all the time...
I just thought that was interesting, just that I live here now, 4000 miles away, where the accents go through midwestern, hispanic, southern, to Californian, just for it to sound Yooperish in the middle of the pacific ocean, closest to Guam and Japan.
I just think it's kinda crazy

Anonymous said...

That's a good list of yooper terms.

BTW, there's a versio of "Holy Wah" that conveys much greater emphasis ... that's "Holy Man!".

I've got both property, and family in the Ontonagon area and my female cousins (who are Fins) used to really pour it on as far as the dialect years ago when they were in their teens.
One might say to the other:
"Holy man, I'm dry. So I'm tinkin dare's some raha in my chuke in the glovebox of the Lada, go da IGA an get us a few jumbos, eh?"

Translation: "Wow, I'm thirsty. I was thinking; there's some money in my hat in the glovebox of the car, go to the store and get us a few quarts of beer, ok?"


Anonymous said...

Tony you ended with "quarts of beer ok?" Its "quarts of beer EH?" :)

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