What Minnesotan phrases do you hear most often in Northfield?


I stopped at a road construction site last week along Heritage Drive near my house and asked one of the workers if they were installing fiber optic cable.  He said:

You know I ain’t for sure.

Very un-Minnesotan, that is for sure.

While Northfield is a long way from da-range, I do still hear people talking Minnesotan quite a bit around here, and I do speak some of it myself regularly.

Do you?

So how about you attach some comments then?


  1. As a Minnesota Lifer, and as an Iron Ranger, I would have to say that the real Minnesota accent and phrasing is definitely centered further north, even possibly localized further to northeast Minnesota.

    Still, I hear a lot of “ooooh ya” around Northfield – sounding an awful lot like a Swede speaking English.

    But if you want the real, undiluted, well-rounded ‘o’ and the like, take a linguistic vacation to the Iron Range. Or just talk to my Mom.

    I’ve always thought you could make a map of Minnesota with gradient shading representing the range of thickness of the Minnesota accent. Darker colors equal fuller ‘o’ sounds, etc…

    August 15, 2008
  2. Mary Schier said:

    That ‘o’ Brendan talks about is not confined to da Range. My husband calls it the Roseville O, because I am from Roseville and apparently have fully rounded O sounds, as do my siblings. Growing up, I often heard about the “West Bloomington” accent, which involved droppin’ every g. As in, “I’m goin’ to the store, want to come with..”

    August 15, 2008
  3. Ross Currier said:

    I once heard a scholarly piece related to this topic read at one of the Arts Guild’s events. It seemed to focus on a specific regional dialect. I believe it was title along the lines of “I Hate Da Range” and the author’s name was Professor Udder or Ether or something…

    …but some of the details elude me.

    August 15, 2008
  4. Skip Zimmerman said:

    Not being from Minnesota (can you tell by MY accent?), I am acutely aware of some of the colloquialisms that exist in and around Northfield. Here are a couple of the ones that make me giggle when I hear them:

    “Ooooh! Fer CUTE(ah)!” – usually exclaimed by groups of women while shopping in gift stores or looking at small children or puppies.

    “Holy BUCKETS!” – this one had me on the floor the first time I heard it, for that facts that it was new to me, that the user would have been severely beaten in any New York or New Jersey bar, and for the subtle play on words when juxtaposed with its more vulgar alternatives. I couldn’t stop laughing then, and I still chuckle now when I hear it or, God forbid, actually USE it!

    Oh yeah, and no one yet has been able (or willing) to explain “Oof Dah!” or “Um Ya Ya!” in spite of my repeated inquiries.

    August 15, 2008
  5. People around here say something is “spendy” for expensive. I had never heard that before.

    August 16, 2008
  6. I’ve had a bit of fun teaching a certain “easterner” snippets like “yup!” and “you betcha” and had to explain “Uff Da” when we drove past the store in Red Wing. There’s “pop” v. “soda” and that long O for sure, that Nort DakOta, don’t cha know, but for the most part his take (I just asked): “People pretty much know how to talk here.” But ludefisk did NOT go over well… thankfully! Remember when Brown Institute was here teaching people to talk on the radio because it was believed we had no accent?

    August 16, 2008

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