How to Speak Midwestern
by Edward McClelland
PE2932 .M33 2016
New Arrivals Island, 2nd floor
In what state might you eat a “brain sandwich,” a “gooey butter cake,” or a “St. Paul Sandwich”? Attend school at “Ooey Pooey”? Go to the “Factory of Sadness” for fun and perhaps see “party plates” on your way there? *
You don’t have to be a linguist to enjoy this lighthearted trip through Midwestern accents (yes, we do have an accent), regional sayings, and cultural touchstones. The author breaks the Midwest into three regions, each with its own distinct linguistic influences: North Central, Midland, and Inland North – and Wisconsin is the only state to include all three regions. The book begins with a few pages of introduction to the unique traits of each region, and while the author has clearly done his research into the waves of immigration, dominant economies, quirks of geography, sports loyalties, and political climates that all affect language development, the details don’t bog down a reader – it’s a quick skim.
Then the second half of the book provides a dictionary of regional gems. As a recent transplant to Wisconsin who’s also lived in and has family across the Midwest states, I enjoyed browsing the WI section of the dictionary to help me sound like a local (maybe) – I had heard about brats and bubblers, but now I know about Sconnies and Fondy and the famed Hodag of Rhinelander. Pick this book up from the New Arrivals shelf if you need a fun break from the academic reading!
* Answers: Try all – if you’re brave – in St. Louis, MO. Ooey Pooey is Indiana’s nickname for Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, or IUPUI. Finally, that’s Ohio’s stadium home of the Cleveland Browns, but watch out for the red-on-yellow license plates issued to DUI offenders.)