Once upon a time, back in high school, my best pal and I dazzled an auditorium full of high schoolers with a quirky song we wrote ourselves. Donning Packer jerseys, we took the stage of the talent show by storm with our song with lyrics like “dontcha know”? and “oh, ya betcha.”
The crowd went wild.
For days, people came up to us admiring our musical genius, and for a brief moment we were cool. We were no longer dorks who raced to Fazoli’s on Tuesdays for 99 cent kids meals and who, consequently, couldn’t get dates to prom. We were stars.
However, there was something a little strange about all the praise. People kept telling us how much they liked our “Yooper Song,” even though we had clearly meant it to be a mockery of Sconnie Speak. That’s when I learned that Wisconsinites don’t think they have accents.
Folks, I am here today to tell you that the Wisconsin dialect is very real. If you need help recognizing your accent, or if you are at all confused about the way we speak in the Badger State, fear not, for I will break down the essence of Sconnie Speak.
The first thing ya need to know about the Wisconsin accent is that it’s all about vowels. Specifically, the long ‘a’ sound is a difficult one for us. We tend to say it in a nasally way and let it drag on forever. Done properly, it almost sounds like there is a “y” in front of the vowel. For example, a Sconnie might say, “Myadison is a greaaat plaaace to eat Byabcock ice cream.”
Confused? Just go to a grocery store and wait for the clerk to ask you what kind of bag you want. If you get the “a” down, you’re 90 percent there.
Knowing how to pronounce the names of geographical regions in Wisconsin is also key. Let’s start with the name of the state. It’s not Wesconsin, nor should you pronounce the “c” too strongly. It goes a little something like this: “Wuh-SKAAAAAHN-sin.”
Also, don’t let anyone hear you pronounce the “L” in Milwaukee if you don’t want to be outted as a foreigner. Furthermore, it’s Green BAY, not GREEN Bay. Just trust me.
As for everyday lingo, there are probably hundreds of examples, but I will just give you a couple two-three to get you started. Make sure to always ask for soda, not pop, when you desire a carbonated beverage. If you want to tell a story about your mom’s sister, be sure to say “aunt” the same way you would pronounce “ant.”
Finally, if someone asks you a question and you want to respond in the affirmative, say “Oh, fer sure!”
Holly Hartung (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a senior majoring in journalism and communication arts. If ya have ideas for future Dairyland Down-low columns about Wiscaaansin culture, send ’em her way.