Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Wisconsinese Demystified

I'm not a linguist or anthropologist by any means, but having lived in certain areas of Wisconsin, then in the South, and now in Germany, I have a pretty good ear for that Wisconsin accent. You never really hear it until you move away for awhile. Not only is the accent of your typical rural Wisconsinite very defined, but the language. After a few months leaning the German language, I can see that many language mannerism, so to speak, have stayed with many Wisconsinites, of whom many are of German decent.

A can in honor of Bonduel, WI.

"Hey, ya going up to Rhinelander, er no?" The "er no" is taught even in my High German course as correct Deutsch. Ending question with "oder?" is perfectly acceptable. 

"Hey der eh." and "Yous got da beer?" "You going wit dem?" Although not used quite the same, the German "the" der, das, die, den, dem, des.... you can still hear it. 

"What are yous guys doin' tonight?" Yes, there is a proper German term for "yous guys." 

I've noticed some people, one being my dad, doesn't congegate his verbs correctly. For example, my dad will say, "Ralph give me that one time," and "He don't like that." This may stem from the fact Germans use the Perfekt more regularly when speaking (i.e. have given), rather than Pratritum, (gave). And although I haven't learned nearly all of the verb conjugations, I don't think there's a different between "doesn't" and "don't." But then again, "do" isn't used nearly as much in German as it is in English. For example, we say "he doesn't like that, while in German it's basically, "he likes that not."

The hard "T." My grandpa was known for saying words like "bat-trees" (batteries). I also have a Great Aunt Ree-TA, not Rita. Since my own German pronunciation is bad, not sure how to explain that, but I do know that "T" is treated a little differently. Ask a German to say "thank you" and you'll see what I mean.

So now you know. We ain't simple folk, we're cultured! 


  1. This entire post made me giggle... and reminded me I do not have an ear for languages. I'm re-thinking putting Germany on my wish list. :p

  2. Oh my word we say some of the same things here in PA! There are heavy Dutch and German influences. My German grandmother ALWAYS says "bat-trees." My Dutchified grandmother says, "It wondered me," when she's curious about something.

    I always thought "yous guys" was a Pittsburgh, thing. That's crazy that it's elsewhere in the States, too!


  3. Haha, I like this post. I am from Canada and living in the U.S. Although, I have never said eh that much, my American friends think I still sound Canadian, and my Canadian friends think I sound American.

  4. Very fun, I'm glad to see your still at learning German! Hats off to you I've got a year left here and I've kind of gotten to where what I do speak? Is it... ;)