Podcast | Making Wisconsin: The Wisconsin Accent

Published: Oct. 11, 2021 at 6:58 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - The Wisconsin accent is surely a unique one — no oofs, eh’s or opes about it.

Between the yeah’s ... er no’s, where do these specific phrases and dialects come from? Making Wisconsin’s Gabriella Rusk sat down with UW Linguistics Professor Joe Salmons to figure out.

Accents tend to boil down to immigration patterns. German immigrants began making a home in Wisconsin in the 1840′s and for decades after, the Dairyland had the largest percentage of self-identified German Americans compared to any other state.

It’s European immigrants — German, Norwegian, Polish, etc. — that have contributed to certain quirks in ‘Sconsin speech.

However, Salmons says language and accents don’t always have a concrete origin. They’re comprised of a bunch of little factors as well. He adds that the Wisconsin accent wasn’t necessarily recognizable until recently.

“It’s only in the 60′s that we really start having a lot of discussion of ‘oh boy, she sure had a strong Wisconsin accent,’” Salmons said.

Curious about the origins of “ope,” or how Wisconsin’s Afghan refugees might influence our state’s dialect? Listen to Making Wisconsin: A History of the Badger State to figure it out ... why doncha?

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