Monday, September 06, 2004

You can take the girl out of Wisconsin....

I moved to Connecticut at age 18, just finished with one semester at the University. I needed to get away, and arrived in a wealthy suburb to be the nanny for a 3-month old girl at the urging of my roommate. It was supposed to be a one-year gig, then back to my boyfriend, job, and school in Wisconsin. It didn't take long for me to realize that I wanted to leave the old life behind, and I've been here since. That little baby girl is now 17. (I'm no longer her nanny, either) If you ask me where I'm from, I'll still tell you Wisconsin. There are many characteristics of New Englanders that I like, but they are too busy getting things done to be friendly, and I've never adopted that trait. I could easily compete in the Friendliest Person in Hartford pageant. My husband will watch with fascination as I strike up conversation in line at the grocery store. Or with other parents at the park. Once you start chatting with a New Englander, they are open and friendly....but getting to that point is not easy. In NE, you don't make eye contact as you pass on the sidewalk. You don't chat with the seafood clerk at the supermarket. You don't comment on a lovely piece of jewelry or ask for a recommendation on a local restaurant. The most interesting difference is language. People here are dumbfounded by Midwestern lingo. Here's a list: Wisconsonese vs. New Enlandesque a bubbler = a drinking fountain tennis shoes = sneakers pop = soda sack lunch = brown bag lunch teeter-totter = see-saw long-john = an oblong doughnut with frosting a hero = a sub sandwich Add to this this the distinct accents: in the Midwest many speak with a lilt, a sing-song type rhythm. Most of my family sound like they stepped right off the set of Fargo. It is a slightly distracting, slow way of communicating. Here in the Northeast, it's all about the R: leaving it out, or adding it when it doesn't belong. Dresser drawer becomes "dressa djaw". Equally distracting. I often find myself eavesdropping, focusing more on dialect than what folks are actually talking about. One of my favorite people watching activities is to listen to conversations and guess where the speakers come from. Especially in Spanish. What about you, notice any language oddities where you live?


  • At 9/06/2004 11:20:00 PM, Blogger Miko said…

    Culturally, Japan can be divided into two distinct regions - East (Tokyo) and West (Osaka). I live in the Osaka region, and speak Osaka dialect. It sounds very, very rough to the refined Tokyo-ites! I feel embarrassed to open my mouth when I travel around other parts of Japan.

    I loved Fargo. But I did wonder why they were speaking like that!

  • At 9/07/2004 10:11:00 AM, Blogger ButterflyTeeth said…

    If I listed everything about the South that bothered me or caused my skin to hike up a few inces when people open their mouths here, I'd need several days to write. Esp. in the area that I live now, by the shore, I have a 'What the HELL did you just SAY?!?!' attack about 40 times a day.

    I used to date a guy from Wisconsin, Madison to be exact. He called a water fountain a 'bubbler' once and I looked at him like he had grown a few extra heads or something. It was very educational though, I learned alot.

    I didn't grow up in a part of the South where I ever developed a distinct Southern accent. I guess thats why different regional accents tend to grind on my nerves a bit. Boston, for example, makes me want to SCREAM!!!!

  • At 9/07/2004 10:46:00 AM, Blogger dawn said…

    My daughter was born in Boston, and I have to admit that I really didn't want her to talk like that. We moved when she was 2.5, hopefully soon enough.

    All of my in-laws have a STRONG Boston accent. I thought they were teasing me the first time I met them, trying to be dramatic.

    It is great fun to bring visiting WI relatives to Boston. What a culture clash. NYC, too. My auntie made a toast to us at our wedding reception in her best Boston accent (that she perfected while visiting us) and it was hilarious.

    Southern accents are interesting, too...dropping 's' in plural words, etc. I don't imagine you speaking like that! LOL

  • At 9/09/2004 08:10:00 AM, Blogger Cap'n Marrrrk said…

    Some people moved in across the hall from us a few years ago from Connecticut. We became close friends with them, and they told us the same things you did. That you didn't just talk to people there, they think you want something from them. Here are some other Midwest to New England weirdness.


    Garage/Yard Sale = Tag Sale

    Funnel Cake = Fried Dough (which there actually is a difference...Sherry admitted the Funnel Cake was better)

  • At 9/13/2004 01:40:00 AM, Blogger RonaldChengSaidSo said…

    I live near Boston and I love to go to ChinaTown so that I can listen to Cantonese spoken. Well, that and eat Dim Sum. LOTS of Dim Sum. My boyfriend is Chinese and I love listening to him talk to the waitresses : )


Post a Comment

<< Home