I've lived in Wisconsin all of my life, so I don't naturally perceive myself as having an "accent". So, when I go away for a week or so, I listen carefully when I come home. Think Midwestern twang, with a bit (or in some places, more than a bit) of German accent. It's not easy being us - in order to speak you simultaneously emit air through your nose (for the twang) and through the the back of your throat by way of your diaphragm (for the gutteral German thing). Here's an example of what you might hear when you order a brat - "Onion und kraut wit dat eh?" (You would like to have onion and saurkraut on your bratwurst sandwich, isn't that correct?). The "eh" comes, I suppose, as a result of Wisconsin being relatively close to Canada. It seems that the farther north you go, the more often you hear "eh" to signify a period or question mark at the end of a sentence. Notice that in the preceding example, there's no comma, and therefore no pause, between "dat" and "eh". "Dat eh" is nearly run together in everyday speech.
People from Wisconsin drive people from Illinois nuts by saying "bubbler". People from Illinois (ignorant as they are), strongly believe that the proper term for "bubbler" is "drinking fountain". That's their problem, not ours.
Below is a glossary of words and terms heard often in Wisconsin, with their common usages and meanings.
|Ahm ganna pahk thah cah in Hahvahd yahd.||Wisconsinite imitating a Bostonite.|
|brandy||A word used more in Wisconsin than anywhere in the world. Brandy is distilled wine. 90% of brandy consumed in the U.S. is consumed in Wisconsin. Brandy Old-Fashioned, Brandy Manhattan, and so on. Yes, if you ask for an Old-Fashioned or Manhattan in Wisconsin, you will get a Brandy Old-Fashioned or Brandy Manhattan.|
|brat (pronounced braht)||bratwurst|
|bubbler||appliance that spurts drinking water slightly skyward|
|cheesehead||This was originally a pejorative term coined by flatlanders. We've willingly accepted the term and use it freely.|
|eh?||Isn't that correct?|
|flatlander||Illinoisan (or is it Illinoisite?)|
|gesundheit||"Good health," said when somebody sneezes.|
|gemuetlichkeit||A German word used in Wisconsin. There is no literal English equivalent. It seems to mean "feel really good because you're drinking beer and are surrounded by people you know who are also drinking beer and listening to German-style music and now you're ready to march to the town five miles down the road and conquer them." Jefferson, Wisconsin has a festival each September called Gemuetlichkeit Days. It's a wonderful celebration of a community's ethnic heritage.|
|oldtime goodtime happy music||polka|
|mattress polka||Oldtime goodtime happy activity|
We drink soda, not pop (this does vary, however, by region of the state). Unflavored carbonated water is seltzer. A sweetened, flavored carbonated drink is called soda. (People argue about this one, depending on what part of the state they come from.) For an extensive discussion of this burning issue, see this scholarly treatise.
|stop 'n go lights||Traffic signals is a boring term eh? Since one light means stop, and the other means go, it makes perfect sense eh? (The yellow light means the same here as just about everywhere else - go faster)|
|up nort'||To a flatlander, north of the south Wisconsin state line. To a Wisconsinite, at least 100 miles north of home (at least we agree on something, in a relative sort of way)|
|we||the Green Bay Packers|
|Why don't you come with?||An example of typical Wisconsinite syntax The sentence ends with a preposition. You linguists know there's a German influence working here, eh?|
|yah yah||I heard you the first time (said to nagging spouse)|
Webmasters note: I didn't
write the essay below, and don't know who did. But you can be sure
that if I find out who wrote it, I'll credit him/her, because I don't want
to take an ass-kicking!
TO SAVE YOUR ASS IF YOU PLAN TO VISIT WISCONSIN THIS SUMMER
It's Pronounced "Oconomowoc", Don'tcha Know?
Two tourists were driving through Wisconsin. As they approached Oconomowoc, they started arguing about the pronunciation of the town's name. They argued back and forth until they stopped for lunch.
"As they stood at the counter, one tourist asked the employee, 'Before we order, could you please settle an argument for us? Would you please pronounce where we are . . . very slowly?'
"The blond leaned over the counter and slowly said, 'Burrrr gerrrr Kiiiing.' "
I Oom Pah Pah I
Wisconsin's Soul Food
Small Town I Wisconsin Recipe Pages
About I Ramblings and Links I Regional and World Food
All content on this site is © 2002-2004 Bratwurst Pages
Webmaster. All rights reserved.
This page last updated on 06/03/2004