Wondra and I have been friends for over half our lives. We have similar literary and crafting sensibilities; we tend to terrorize book and bead store attendants. Wondra and I are the type of friends who can pick up right where we left off. Now that she lives in Wales, this is no small feat.
We have been confused as sisters (why do people assume that all short people are related?), and she even lived at my house for a month while her parents built their house. My mom eventually separated us because I was finding it hard to sleep with Wondra speaking what seemed to be German in her sleep.
Without further adieu, here is Wondra.
Michigan Linguistic Quirks
Wondra of Wondra's World
As the old saying goes, Britain and America are two countries separated by a common language. Being an American who's lived in Britain these past ten years, I can confirm that no truer words were ever spoken.
Moving from a small town in Michigan to a village in Wales has been a linguistic adventure to say the very least (I had to turn the subtitles on the first time I watched a movie with an all Welsh cast) - and not just for me!
If you're a fellow 'gander who plans on spending any time abroad there are a couple of things you need to get used to:
1. Being asked if you're Canadian. Yeah, I don't get it either but the rest of the world finds it nearly impossible to tell the difference between a Michigan accent and a Canadian accent. What's that about, eh?
2. The question, "Michigan? That's near Detroit, right?" You may be laughing but I can assure you that it's a conversation I've had no less than A MILLION times. (Allow for a small exaggeration there...) I consider it great cosmic payback for every time an American has ever said, "Wales? That's in England, right?"
I've developed a standard response to #2 that you might find useful: "No, Detroit is in Michigan. Yes, I have shot a gun. Yes, I have been to Eight Mile. No, I don’t know Eminem." It saves time.
But we have a few interesting linguistic quirks of our own, us Michiganders. Take, for example, the word "across." We know that there is no "t" at the end of the word and yet every single one of us will add one when we say. I imagine you’re shaking your head right not but, trust me, it’s true. Just listen to the people around you. I’ve never known anyone from Michigan who didn’t say “acrosst” instead of “across.”
(Years of teasing from my Welsh husband has cured me of this little eccentricity.)
Then, of course, there’s the small matter of “can.” Why do ‘ganders say “ken” instead of “can?” I don’t think it matters; it’s just one of those little things that make up the sounds of home.
And let’s not forget the ever useful “Right?!” which conveys everything from assent to dissent, confusion to sarcasm, annoyance to amusement – and everything in between. I have sisters in Tennessee and Illinois and I’ve never heard either of them use (what I like to think of) as the Michigan Right.
(Not to be confused with the British “All right?” which is used as a general greeting and should always be answered with “All right?”)
There are lots of little sayings and linguistic quirks that make us Michiganders special but these are a few of my favourites. I couldn’t possibly end this post without mentioning just one more thing…
Unlike our Southern cousins who like to take their time over ev-ery sin-gle syl-la-ble, Michiganders love to talk FAST. It’s like our tongues just can’t keep up with our brains and we rush to get everything out as quick as possible lest we forget it before it had a chance to be said. Well… That’s what my husband told me, anyway, after spending a night listening to me and my friends catch up.
And in case you’re wondering… Yes, after ten years of living here, I do have a very pronounced Welsh accent – which is gone the moment I hear another Michigander talking.
You can read my guest blog post here on Wondra's blog. I am looking forward to guest blogging on her blog in the future.