A Dialect Coach Credits the Minnesota Accent to our…Thongs [WATCH]
...our monophthongs, that is.
Let's face it, Minnesota -- we have an accent. Try as we might to fit in with the generic Midwest accent, we can't quite seem to escape vocal the nuances of our Norwegian ancestors. When we're certain, we're "fer sure." When we're happy to oblige -- "youbetcha." When we're surprised, overwhelmed, sympathetic or feeling just about anything else, we express it with "uffda."
Despite all this, many of us are still quick to disavow that we have a Minnesota accent and are further infuriated when we hear adulterated attempts at the "Minnesota accent" in shows and movies such as Fargo.
Well, if there's one person qualified to undertake explaining the Minnesota accent and what it's attributed to, it's dialect coach Erik Singer. In a recent video with WIRED, he takes viewers on a tour of U.S. accents including Southern Louisiana, Miami English, Cajun, Texas, Oklahoma, Ozarks, Chicago, Iowa, the Rockies, Minnesota and more.
"You know, people from Minnesota often complain about overbroad, stereotypical accents," Singer acknowledges, "just going too far." He goes on to identify two identifiable features as the cause and reason for that -- our monophthongal e's and o's.
Monophthongal, by definition, is an adjective describing "a vowel sound that throughout its duration has a single constant articulatory position." Basically, it's the result of a mouth that moves around but a jaw that stays fixed in place. Singer gives, for example, the "ey" and "oh" in our "face" and "goat" vowels. He assures us that we're hardly alone, however, with similar monophthongal vowels being common in some areas of Wisconsin, Michigan and North Dakota, too.
Watch the video above for yourself to see what Singer says about Minnesota's accent and the Native American accents around the Midwest.
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