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10 Regional Words From Waaaay Northern Michigan

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In 2014 Merriam-Webster announced that it was finally putting “Yooper” in the dictionary. What’s a Yooper, you ask? Why someone from the U.P., of course. What’s the U.P.? The Upper Peninsula, what’s wrong with you!

The Upper Peninsula of Michigan is connected to the rest of the state by only one little four lane bridge (okay, actually the longest suspension bridge in the western hemisphere), and in its relative isolation, has developed its own distinct culture. Here are 9 other words it might be good to know if you ever decide to pay a visit to Yooperland.

1. Holy wah!

The Yooper version of “Holy cow,” “whoa,” or “duuuude” depending on the intonation.

2. Pank

To pat something down to make it more compact. You’ll want to pank down the snow real good if you aim to make a sturdy snow fort.

3. Big Mac

The Mackinac Bridge. The one that connects the U.P. to the “mitten” that makes up the rest of Michigan, and that brings all the tourists up in the summer.

4. Sisu

Many of the settlers of the U.P. came from Finland, and some useful Finnish vocabulary has made its way into the dialect. Sisu is a Finnish word for grim, hardy perseverance. To make it through a winter up there, you’ve got to have sisu.

5. Toivo and Eino

A pair of Finnish names that refer to the lovable, hapless characters that are the basis for a whole genre of Yooper jokes, such as:
Toivo and Eino decide to head down to Motor City. After they cross the bridge they see a sign that says DETROIT LEFT. So they turn around and go home.

6. Chuke

A basic knit winter hat. Comes from the French-Canadian word toque.

7. Choppers

Deer skin mittens with a wool insert.

8. Swampers

Rubber boots to be worn in muddy terrain. Go well with choppers and a chuke.

9. Troll

Someone from the lower part of Michigan. Cause they live under the bridge, doncha know.

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How Do You Stress the Word: THANKSgiving or ThanksGIVing?
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Here’s something else to stress about for Thanksgiving: where to put the stress in the word Thanksgiving.

If you’re from California, Iowa, or Delaware, you probably say ThanksGIVing, with the primary stress on the second syllable. If you’re from Georgia, Tennessee, or the Texas Panhandle, you probably say THANKSgiving, with the primary stress on the first syllable.

This north-south divide on syllable stress is found for other words like umbrella, guitar, insurance, and pecan. However, those words are borrowed from other languages (Italian, Spanish, French). Sometimes, in the borrowing process, competing stress patterns settle into regional differences. Just as some borrowed words get first syllable stress in the South and second syllable stress in the North, French words like garage and ballet get first syllable stress in the UK and second syllable stress in the U.S.

Thanksgiving, however, is an English word through and through. And if it behaved like a normal English word, it would have stress on the first syllable. Consider other words with the same noun-gerund structure just like it: SEAfaring, BAbysitting, HANDwriting, BULLfighting, BIRDwatching, HOMEcoming, ALMSgiving. The stress is always up front, on the noun. Why, in Thanksgiving alone, would stress shift to the GIVE?

The shift to the ThanksGIVing pronunciation is a bit of a mystery. Linguist John McWhorter has suggested that the loss of the stress on thanks has to do with a change in our concept of the holiday, that we “don’t truly think about Thanksgiving as being about thankfulness anymore.” This kind of thing can happen when a word takes on a new, more abstract sense. When we use outgoing for mail that is literally going out, we are likely to stress the OUT. When we use it as a description of someone’s personality ("She's so outgoing!"), the stress might show up on the GO. Stress can shift with meaning.

But the stress shift might not be solely connected to the entrenchment of our turkey-eating rituals. The thanksGIVing stress pattern seems to have pre-dated the institution of the American holiday, according to an analysis of the meter of English poems by Mark Liberman at Language Log. ThanksGIVing has been around at least since the 17th century. However you say it, there is precedent to back you up. And room enough to focus on both the thanks and the giving.

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Designer Reimagines the Spanish Alphabet With Only 19 Letters
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According to designer José de la O, the Spanish alphabet is too crowded. Letters like B and V and S and Z are hard to tell apart when spoken out loud, which makes for a language that's "confusing, complicated, and unpractical," per his design agency's website. His solution is Nueva Qwerty. As Co.Design reports, the "speculative alphabet" combines redundant letters into single characters, leaving 19 letters total.

In place of the letters missing from the original 27-letter Spanish alphabet are five new symbols. The S slot, for example, is occupied by one letter that does the job of C, Z, and S. Q, K, and C have been merged into a single character, as have I and Y. The design of each glyph borrows elements from each of the letters it represents, making the new alphabet easy for Spanish-speakers to learn, its designer says.

Speculative Spanish alphabet.
José de la O

By streamlining the Spanish alphabet, de la O claims he's made it easier to read, write, and type. But the convenience factor may not be enough to win over some Spanish scholars: When the Royal Spanish Academy cut just two letters (CH and LL) from the Spanish alphabet in 2010, their decision was met with outrage.

José de la O has already envisioned how his alphabet might function in the real world, Photoshopping it onto storefronts and newspapers. He also showcased the letters in two new fonts. You can install New Times New Roman and Futurysma onto your computer after downloading it here.

[h/t Co.Design]

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