As you may have noticed, I’m on this never-ending quest to help tourists fit right in when they visit the UP. So this week?
“Jim’s Helpful Hints to Speaking Yooper.”
They always say that when you’re visiting a foreign country you should learn at least a few words, to try & fit in. And you could say the same if you’re coming to visit the UP. After all, we have linguistic quirks that you won’t find anywhere else.
There’s even been a very interesting book written about them.
So, how do you define speaking “Yooper”? Well, I don’t know if there’s a precise way of defining it. I guess the closest I can come is to describe it like this–you take a standard midwestern accent, cover it with squeaky cheese, dunk it in black coffee, and then wash it down with a jumbo of Bosch beer.
There are a couple of phrases everyone needs to know right off the bat–the ubiquitous “Holy Wah,” the even more ubiquitous “Say Ya To Da UP,” and the no longer used but still fondly remembered “We Go Green Bay” and its wayward cousin, “We Go Shopko Liquor.”
There are also exclamations like “Ya Sure, “You Betcha”, or “Eh?”. They can go at the beginning of a sentence or wrap it up, and you can use them in any combination, including the often-attempted but not always mastered, “Ya Sure You Betcha Eh.”
However, if you’re a newcomer to speaking Yooper, you may want to warm up before trying that combo. After all, I have seen tourists blow out their vocal cords just trying.
And since you’re tourists, you should be aware that we do have special names for you. For our friends from Lower Michigan, you’re trolls. People from Wisconsin are Cheeseheads, and if you’re visiting us from Chicago or anywhere in the great state of Illinois, you’re a FIB. That is an acronym, by the way. The “I” in FIB stands for “Illinois.” I’ll leave what the “F” and the “B” stand for to your imagination.
This is just skimming the surface. There will be many different ways of saying many different things as you make your way across the UP. So don’t be afraid; just dive in with your Yooperisms. After all, making the effort is the important thing.
I’m Jim Koski, and that’s another slice of “Life in the 906”…eh?