Ugliest accent? It’s not Minnesota

Gawker is hosting its periodic “ugliest accent” competition, and we don’t really have much of a chance. We’re the 7th seed in this competition.

Did you know that the Minnesota accent is worse in the suburbs than in the city? Me neither.

The Minneapolis accent isn’t nearly as strong compared to the rest of rural or suburban Minnesota (big cities are usually the first to lose their distinct regional sounds), but Minneapolis retains more than enough of those Midwestern vowels to make your ears bleed. Think Fargo (they’ll tell you it’s exaggerated; don’t believe them).

Seed: 7
Notable Minneapolis accents: Steve Zahn, the Coen brothers
Example sentence: “Git da beg of groshrees out of my car.

“The accents in Minnesota are hideous, absolutely grating,” a commenter says.

In early voting, Tallahassee is eating our lunch.

  • Robert Moffitt

    No one from New England should crack wise about how Midwesterners talk. You too, New York.

  • Anna

    I grew up in Tigerland–Baton Rouge, Louisiana. However Baton Rouge does not have a heavy Southern drawl because of the many industrial plants and the flagship university LSU. It has a more neutral accent because of people being transferred to Baton Rouge from different parts of the country with companies like Ethyl, Exxon and Dow Chemical. You could say it has that blend of accents that TV stations and radio stations are so fond of.

    My grandmother grew up in the Irish Channel neighborhood of New Orleans so my mother didn’t have the typical Southern drawl. New Orleans accent is closer to a Brooklyn or Yonkers.

    My father grew up on the Oregon coast and had more of the news reporter accent. He was first generation Finnish American and didn’t speak English until he started school.

    Whenever I talk with my family down South, my slight drawl will come out but after living in Minnesota for most of the last 25 years, I usually sound like any other Minnesotan.

    I have to agree that some regional accents absolutely maul the English language but the colloquialisms common to these regions are absolutely charming and usually require a native of that region to “interpret.” When I first moved to the Midwest, I didn’t have a clue what a “bubbler” was. It would be an oil well down where I’m from!

    • clost

      “Bubbler” is a Milwaukee WI area term I believe….I have lived in Minnesota for all but a few years of my life, and have never heard it used here. Now “pop” is a Minnesota/Midwestern gem.

      • Anna

        I lived north of La Crosse, WI in Onalaska when I first moved to the Midwest with my now ex-husband and my son. “Pop” is definitely one of the colloquialisms I have picked up since living in Minnesota. We called it “soft drink” down South.

        • “Soda.”

          • Joe

            “Soda” where I grew up, in NE Iowa.

  • Sarah

    The Brownielocks website is a hoot! Looks like it was created on Geocities and hasn’t been updated since, but it’s kept up to date. Having said that, Brownielocks says that Minnesotans say ‘bubbler’ instead of water fountain. I’ve never heard anyone here say bubbler.

    • Robert Moffitt

      That’s a New England thing too, I think. Me, I’m one of those every soft drink (aka soda/pop) is “Coke” people. So who am I to judge?

    • Jim G

      A former teaching colleague of mine raised in SW Minnesota had a unique phrase I had never heard before. When her fuel gauge was on empty she said she needed to “Put on gas”.
      Sadly, I just “get gas”.

      • DOR

        My SE Minnesota Norwegian dad also “put on gas.” When I moved to SW Wisconsin I was roundly ridiculed for that and for playing Duck, Duck, Gray Duck. Now happily back in MN, where I continue to put on gas.

  • Tom Johnson

    Growing up in the midwest but having lived on both coasts, down south and abroad, midwestern english is probably the least accented. I recall taking a class in public speaking decades ago and the professor told us two things. First, how well you speak has a huge impact on first impressions and second, the accent (or lack thereof) you should strive for was euphemistically called NBC english.

  • Jack

    I have never understood the carte blanche power behind the seemingly daintiness but wonderfully nauseating accent coming from the Belle of the South.
    On the other hand
    there is nothing more charming than the arcane accent of the old guy from the Iron Range. “Git da beg of groshrees oot of my car”

  • “Cool story Bro” moment:

    While visiting Venice, Italy a few years ago I came down to the front desk at the hotel in which I was staying and came upon the young Italian receptionist trying to understand what was being said by another one of the guests. The receptionist spoke English very well and *I* had absolutely no problem understanding her. The other guest, however, had a VERY thick southern accent (Alabama??)

    I stood there and listened to the other guest and tried my best to translate as best I could. The other guest would say something to the receptionist who would then just stare at me for the translation. After a few sentences I just told the other guest to write down what they needed and told the receptionist, “You know, we (the other guest and I) come from the same country and speak the same language, but for the life of me I can’t understand what he is saying.”

    • Tom Johnson

      Chuckle. In my travels not just abroad to Europe, Asia, etc. but in this country, I cannot for the life of me figure out why so many americans have a “tin ear” as my mother would say. Any number of dual language foreigners who know one or more languages besides english can understand americans but the reverse is rarely true. We are also starting to see it on television. Media is scrolling the english on the bottom for any number of foreign speakers even though for anyone with reasonable hearing can understand them perfectly well if they are speaking english. Note: from the times I have watched, Fox news seems to be the network that still does this more than any other network but all of them are now doing it.

      • It very well might be my “tin ear” for not being able to understand him as I was all dialed in to the native Italian speaker’s accents by that time although I DO have a very hard time understanding a thick southern accent even when I’m here in the States.

        /I apparently have a bit of a Canadian accent, which is odd, since I was raised in the Minneapolis area.

  • Vitold Ravitsky

    I lived in Fargo/Moorhead over a winter. Their speech patterns are a model for elocutionists. They get an A+. They speak clearly with no accent or nasal twang. Very pleasant. The Coen Brothers so-called Fargo accents are “MINNESOTA FINN,” which is the basis for Iron Range speech patterns.

    • Vitold Ravitsky

      And don’t make fun of Pollacks!

      • WTF is a “Pollack”?