Saturday, April 26, 2014

Wait - I have an accent????

I honestly had no idea I had any sort of accent until I was halfway thru Navy bootcamp and a girl in a newly formed company told me she had a hard time understanding my accent. My first thought was "oh please! I'm from Michigan - we don't have accents!" I apparently was wrong.   I had been out of the Navy for many years when I saw a news bit on TV about the Michigan Accent, then also found this article....

I'm guilty of just about all of these. 

Can you do this with your state??

Michigan Slang/Colloquialisms

The Mitten: This refers to the State of Michigan because, on a map, it's shaped like a mitten. 

Michigander: A person from Michigan 

The U.P.: I've seldom heard a Michigander say "The Upper Peninsula." You say each letter like You + Pea, not like the direction "up."

Up North: This is where you go if you're traveling within Michigan.

The Union:  When a Michigander says "the union" it means UAW. 

It's "pop", not soda:
'nuff said!

Words for People (Tourists & Locals)

Townies: A townie is a derogatory term actually used by non-Michiganders visiting Michigan. 

FIPs: This is what Michiganders in the southwestern areas of the Mitten call people who visit from Illinois. The term FIP is an acronym for *ahem* "F*cking Illinois People."

FOPs: FIPs from Ohio. This is less commonly used.

Fudgies: This is what Michiganders call tourists visiting the Northern parts of Michigan.

Trolls: This is what Yoopers call those who live in the lower peninsula. This is because they live "under" the bridge.

Yoopers: This is what people from the upper peninsula are called.

Flatlanders: What Yoopers call those from the Lower Peninsula.

The Michigan Accent

The Michigan accent is a strange breed of something from Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Ontario. 

The letter "A" as in "car" is a kind of light ee-yeah sound. If you're familiar with diacritical marks, it would be kind of like ēă, but much lighter and less noticeable.
Crayons are crēăns (similar sounding to "crans").
Dad is dēăd (again, only a slight difference from "dad".)

The long "e" sound, like the "i" in "mirror" is a bit longer and really nasally. Also, we don't waste our time with the "or" in "mirror", so it's just "meer." Make it really nasally, though.

Glottal stop: This is when your voice kind of stops in the middle of a word and then starts again. Think of a kid saying, "Uh-oh!" In Michigan, we like to do glottal stops at the end of our words, which is kind of like a last bit of forced breath. For example, when we say Detroit, we don't say the "t" sound at the end. Instead, it's like Detroi and then a bit of forced breath.

If the word has a double consonant 't' in it, like "kitten" or "button", there is a glottal stop without the t sound actually being pronounced: kitten = kih'ihn, button = buh'ton or buh'ohn. (Thanks to from Doe·Wah·Jack for pointing this out!)

The letter "t": Leave it to a Michigander to screw up the pronunciation of a consonant! If the letter "t" occurs in the middle of a word, it has a "d" sound. This is so embedded in my speech, that I can't say a word like "city" with a "t" without sounding like I'm trying really hard for that "t" sound. It's "ciddy."

"Ah" as in father has to be drawn out. In Michigan, you don't have a mom. You have a "maahm." And after school, you go to "haahckey" practice. On a slightly related note, Chicago is "Chic-aah-go" not "Chi-caw-go"

In Michigan We...

...go tuh the store, not "to" it.

...usta' have jobs in Detroit, not "used to"

...go huntin' in the wuds, not the "woods"

...get our tires slashed for driving a Tie-ota, not a Toyota.

...say er' not "or."

...feel like we're ki-nuh like Minnesotans, not "kind of."

source - thank you Melanie Shebel!


  1. My daughter lives in Michigan but can't claim to be a Michigander as she is English. Is there a term that fits her? We live in Yorkshire where there is almost a native language so I'm always interested in local dialects.

    1. Hmm, we should make one up. Or I'll ask my boss - she's married to an Englishman, but her words for him may not be nice ones! LOL!

  2. So according to your map, I'm from Chicago, but I'm not a FIP because I'm not from Illinois. Although I guess you could just make the I stand for Indiana and it works as well. Where I live, the area is referred to as Michiana. I do go to Michigan every so often (I only live 10 minutes from the state line) and the only complaints I have is cell reception sucks and no-fault insurance (I never noticed an accent). I am a huge University of Michigan fan and travel to Ann Arbor a few times a year, do I get to be an honorary Michigander?

    1. I have to disagree with that map anyway - since Hell is in Michigan, not over New Mexico / Arizona way. But sure - you can be an honorary Michigander, we don't give that title to just anyone ya know!

  3. Awesome. I love unique accents. I grew up in a relatively accent free area, but we did cut off all our "t"s. (Moun-un instead of mountain) It's funny the little things that are so intrinsic to one area, eh?

    True Heroes from A to Z


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