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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

That’s An Interesting Accent You Have There…

Can we just come clean here and talk about “Fargo”?

“Fargo” is a movie put out by Minnesota’s favorite son, Joel Coen.

Have you seen this movie? The accent in “Fargo” is meant to be representative of a Minnesotan accent but it is not, my friends, how Minnesotans sound.

I don't, anyway.

No, really.

Oh, ja, ya know, we got dem guys up dere on de Range, huntin’ dem tirty-point bucks, but dose guys, dey’re not troooly representative of de folk down here in de Cities.

Being a Minnesotan comes in handy, though, when traveling, particularly in the last few years, when I have been claiming to be Canadian.

Look at ‘em. All friendly and cuddly up there, the little non-gun-toting, law-abiding Canucks. You could just eat them up they’re so cute.

Everybody loves the Canadians.

A number of years ago, I went with my son and my parents to Mexico for what in the U.S. is a long vacation: two weeks.

Two weeks! It’s like being retired.

If you ever get to Puerto Vallarta, which is where we went, one thing you’ll notice is that no one there is overweight; and if you do happen to see someone who is overweight, they’re either Americans or Germans.

I’m sorry, but that’s the way it is.

We were getting into a cab, the four of us, to go to dinner one night when another family of tourists got into the cab next to us.

Our driver called out to the other driver. The other nodded sorrowfully and our driver laughed.

Four years of high school French are of no help when you’re eavesdropping in Spanish; and being the nosy sort, I asked our driver what he said.

He blushed just a bit and then said, “I tell him, ha ha! You get the fat ones!”

By this time, the other taxi had pulled in front of us; and we all watched as the back end sagged perilously close to the tar…

You could tell by the way he looked into the mirror that it had suddenly occurred to him that perhaps we were Americans. We aren’t overweight, but we do have a suspiciously U.S. look to us…

My father, the king of nuance, noticed him notice us.

“No worries, eh,” my dad said. “We’re Canadian.”


Diane said...

Too funny! There have been times when I've been traveling and I've come across some Americans (you know the kind) and in order NOT to be associated with them in any way, even in the eyes/minds of complete (and foreign) strangers, I have refused to speak, answer my cell phone, ask for directions, etc.

Pearl said...

Hi, Diane.
Unfortunately, yes, I do know the kind you mean.
For future use, fake being Canadian. :-) Tell everyone you're very much enjoying being "oot and aboot".

Braja said...

Oh yeah sure...try be an Aussie who doesn't speak like they fell off the back of the yokle truck...all those goddamned Aussie soaps that make us cringe...

I don't have a very Australian accent; people usually tell me they think i'm English, though I dont sound English either. I'm a Heinz variety...

Pearl said...

Hi, Braja.
Would that be the equivalent of the U.S. tv's assault on Southern accents here?
It's funny -- we don't get many Aussies here at all, not in Minnesota. OK, maybe that's not funny; but I do know that a lot of Brits here are mistaken for Australian -- something they don't care for!

Irish Gumbo said...

Someday I'll try and explain the nuances of southeastern Virginia accents when you need to know the difference between 'city' and 'country' folks. I was a 'city' folk, but my first year in college my next door dorm neighbor thought I was a hick, surprised that we had indoor plumbing. Damn yankees...

I visited Minnesota in 2000, and only heard 'ja' once, thought I was hearing things. One of my former bosses grew up not far from Fargo, though, and it was hilarious to hear him voice over his relatives and neighbors.

And 'Fargo' was GREAT!

Susan said...

Hey ya'll! Down here we luv us some vittles so we cain't help carryin' around a few extry pounds. But when we mosey down yonder we tray to keep ar voices dayown so them strangers cain't tell we sleep wif ar cuzzins.

Pearl said...

Hi, Irish!
I lived for a while not far from Fargo. It's the same accent Sarah Palin put on for her speeches. Yikes? Ja, you betcha!

Hi, Susan!
Yep, I do feel sorry for the southern part of the U.S. Big-time stereotypes reinforced daily by comedians and tv. It's pathetic. Have never lived "down south" but have worked with a number of southern folks. Can't let the slower speech fool ya.

Laura said...

Sure slap on a Canadian flag on your luggage, end all sentences with eh! and smile a lot and we can all be Canadian. lol Too funny! Tell me, why is that Sarah Palin also sounded like she was from Fargo? Happy New Years to you and to yours.

Pearl said...

Good question, Laura!
I think she did that whole "you betcha" and "say it ain't so, Joe" just to be "folksy". You know -- look at me! I'm a strong, down-home woman with oodles of kids! I'm just your common, everday kinda gal! You can trust me! I'm a hockey mom!
If you google her earlier speeches, prior to the whole VP debacle, you'll find that she didn't have that accent.
I think they realized that she had the intellectual curiosity of George Bush and decided to package her as they did him: the guy you'd like to have a beer with.
Yikes. Give me someone who can think on their feet!

mbuna53 said...

What about Ethan Coen? Joel has a brother who helps him make those fine films, don't ya know.

Ya. Real good then.

Bye now.

EskimoBob said...

Pearl, Pearl, Pearl,

You know when you get real comfortable, you let out that Meinesoatan accent. Especially after having a keg or two, you just can't help it.

I don't know what it is aboot Sarah Palin and that cockneyed Minnesotan accent she put on, but here's the crazy thing. Here in Wasilla, everyone seemed to start speaking that way. It was very surreal. Your Naytif Brudder.

Gyppo Byard said...

The only people I've ever known object to this increasingly common ruse were Canadians, funnily enough.

Strange how travel throws one in with one's countrymen who under normal circumstances one wouldn't give the time of day, yet whom the locals will assume to be your friend merely by association of passport colour. In such circumstances, I have been known to swear blind I was from Planet Tharg...

Pearl said...

Hi, Mbuna,
Looks like Joel gets most of the credit for this one...

Hi, Eskimo Bob.
How's it, my brudder?
OK -- so ya got me on the drunken speech. :-) It seems to come out mostly on the O's. "Go down to de boh-at howse." Yikes.
Not sure what's up with Wasilla copping a Minnesota accent, but it IS funny.
Oh, and I saw your blog the other day about all the Minnesotans in Alaska. I'll bet that's true -- I've known a number of people who've moved up there, some of them for the fishing industry. Good way to come back with one leg shorter than the other, that's for !@#$ sure. Ugly things happen on dem boh-ats.


Pearl said...

My dear Gyppo,
As your typical American -- that is, not possessing a passport -- my only real experience with foreign travel has been to Mexico a number of times. Now, of course, we need proper ID to get into both Mexico and Canada...
I can't imagine why Canadians don't want to be mistaken for Americans. :-)

darsden said...

Pearl whacha trying to say about us southerns down here missy? I know ye heard about us down here folks...yaahhummm ;-)

Daisy said...

Oh I loved the accents in Fargo!! Frances McDormand was brilliant. I have to say I do rather love a Canadian accent too- it's like an American one but amusing. People never know where I come from, even taxi drivers in London (where I come from!!) used to ask me if I was Australian. I think I've got rather an old fashioned BBC accent!!

Pearl said...

Hey, Darsden.
I have nothing but the utmost respect for my Southern brothers and sisters. :-)
Actually, was in Georgia once, at a truck stop where not only did the waitress not understand me -- but I did not understand her. It was the weirdest thing.

Hi, Daisy.
While I love Frances, I have to admit I didn't like Fargo. Couldn't get beyond the accents. :-) They were so grating, so outlandish that I couldn't concentrate. Which is not to say that they're not somewhat accurate. There are some accents up there that just jump out at ya!


Douglas said...

I never make fun of someone's accent. This is because mine is a cross between a New York dialect (aka "lawnguylanese") and Florida cracker. It drifts back and forth between "ya'll" and "youse" depending upon conversation mates. I tend to be a linguistic chameleon. I have been known to speak Chicagoan, New Englander, and a bit of clipped British. All because I only want to feel close to the person I am berating at the moment.

I love accents of all kinds.

Pearl, you were right about the "Magic Smoke". Look for it soon.

Hmmm, your wordification is "unburnus" or "unbumus". (dratted eyes!) In either case, not unhumorous.

Cat said...

I've heard the "Fargo" accent before, believe me, it exists. Of course, I grew up in the south, so all of you people sound like "Fargo" to me, even after 8 years in MN.

Not The Rockefellers said...

Oh God..try being from NJ. And enduring every single "Which exit?" joke.

Worse yet, try going back home to NJ for the holidays and realizing that every damn stereotype is 100% right on the money.

word verif - quauroso

def- someone who uses qua alot in conversation in order to sound learned.

"That guy? He's a regular quauroso."

Peace - Rene

Ann's Rants said...

Ooooo, eh-hah...Is it Reeznabul?

Kevin Musgrove said...

I have a pretty nondescript "somewhere in the north of England" accent these days, which at least has the advantage of being unobjectionable to anyone who isn't a Londoner. It's the result of accidentally picking up too many bits of overheard cadence. When I'm in the States I tell people that I'm not the one with the accent, which is expected of us Englishmen now that we're the only legitimate bad guys left in the movies.

A highly-amusing way to irritate a Londoner is to do an impersonation of Dick Van Dyke in 'Mary Poppins' and tell them that that's what they sound like to us provincials.

The Wife O Riley said...

Being from Chicago, we are constantly living down the "Super Fans" that George Wendt portrayed on SNL years ago. We're also incredibly fat.

Jeanne said...

I lived in Minnesohta for three years, in West St. Paul and I love Fargo because it reminds me of those years. You're right, though -- most of the Cities folks don't sound like that. Up Nort, though, in Duluth and Ely....

Braja said...

That's cos Brits are mostly wishing they were Aussies :))) lol.....

Kavi said...

Now there are two wars that are going on here..one of geographies and the other of biologies..

Well,i dont have much to comment on Americans, Germans, Canadians...!!

And am not qualified to comment on the overweight...etc..hmm

So, what do i do !?!

Hmm !! I'll forget the cab and take a walk i guess. I wonder who will cast a sorrowful glance at me. Or will anybody !?!

Eric S. said...

That's too funny, the only foreign travel I did was while in the Army. Can't say your Canadian and get away with it then, LOL.

I have no idea what kind of accent I have. I never thought Coloradans had an accent, but have been told otherwise. Now I find myself dropping into a southern accent while drinking just a little too much. I also catch myself saying Ya'all much more than I would prefer. Trouble with being a transplant in Texas.

June Saville said...

I'm with Braja on the Brits and Aussies bit - It seems that any Brits who could, came over here.
The Republican debate is starting up here again, so they'd better watch themselves.
So - Canadians aren't fat? Even though they're cuddly?
June in Oz

Fida said...

Oh ja, I saw it and I loved it – it cracked me up. And those damn Canucks come in handy, eh! But don’t forget to say sorry if someone steps on your toe! That would make you a real Canadian, hehehe!

Candice said...

Ha! The Mexican cab drivers are hilarious. A fat American? NO WAY! ;)

Love your blog!

Henry the Dog said...

Your post made my mum think of the terrible reputation that the British folk have in Europe these days - if she sees a really really fat one, or a drunk one she immediately thinks it's a Brit. Sadly, so do all the other Europeans - and they're usually right. So mum pretends she's not british, which I think is funny 'cause she has a Yorkshire accent (north of the UK) and looks very 'English' (tall and fair). But she tells folk who ask that she's Australian, and they believe her. She says they're much more friendly & helpful once they find out she's from Oz;)

Protege said...

Ok, as a non-America, who has lived in the US for almost 10 years I have to say that I loved all you people! After the weather, the American people is what I miss the most. You are a great nation, don't let anyone tell you otherwise.;)

SassyTwoSocks said...

First of all, I am going to Puerto Vallarta next week! To get married! Actually, we're going to Yelapa which is right outside PV.

Second, you totally go the S2S: For Superlative Blogging Award this week, Pearl! Woot!

ICKY said...

It is so nice to hear someone say something nice about this country, and the people in it.
Thank you.

Collie and Rusty said...

I've been to Minnesota (my dad lives there)and everyone there that I spoke to about Fargo says that people in North Dakota sound like that. You all drink pop. I thought that was cute. Do you know what we drink in NH? Soda or if you are elderly, tonic :)

The Retired One said...

Fargo accents were probably from the U.P. (upper peninsula of Michigan) where the heritage is mostly Finnish....rather than Minnesota-ian....eh? I have relatives who resemble that remark! I was an Air Force brat, so we moved around alot, so I didn't acquire the accent...but most people from downstate Michigan can tell a "Yooper" immediately as soon as they talk. When you get old (like I am getting!) you will actually think fondly on the accent and be proud to be Minnesotian (and not say you are Canadian). ha
P.S. When we were in the Dominican Republic last week, 95% of the people at our resort were Canadian. (Or were you there too?)