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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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Big Questions
Where Should You Place the Apostrophe in President's Day?
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Happy Presidents’ Day! Or is it President’s Day? Or Presidents Day? What you call the national holiday depends on where you are, who you’re honoring, and how you think we’re celebrating.

Saying "President’s Day" infers that the day belongs to a singular president, such as George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, whose birthdays are the basis for the holiday. On the other hand, referring to it as "Presidents’ Day" means that the day belongs to all of the presidents—that it’s their day collectively. Finally, calling the day "Presidents Day"—plural with no apostrophe—would indicate that we’re honoring all POTUSes past and present (yes, even Andrew Johnson), but that no one president actually owns the day.

You would think that in the nearly 140 years since "Washington’s Birthday" was declared a holiday in 1879, someone would have officially declared a way to spell the day. But in fact, even the White House itself hasn’t chosen a single variation for its style guide. They spelled it “President’s Day” here and “Presidents’ Day” here.


Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Maybe that indecision comes from the fact that Presidents Day isn’t even a federal holiday. The federal holiday is technically still called “Washington’s Birthday,” and states can choose to call it whatever they want. Some states, like Iowa, don’t officially acknowledge the day at all. And the location of the punctuation mark is a moot point when individual states choose to call it something else entirely, like “George Washington’s Birthday and Daisy Gatson Bates Day” in Arkansas, or “Birthdays of George Washington/Thomas Jefferson” in Alabama. (Alabama loves to split birthday celebrations, by the way; the third Monday in January celebrates both Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert E. Lee.)

You can look to official grammar sources to declare the right way, but even they don’t agree. The AP Stylebook prefers “Presidents Day,” while Chicago Style uses “Presidents’ Day.”

The bottom line: There’s no rhyme or reason to any of it. Go with what feels right. And even then, if you’re in one of those states that has chosen to spell it “President’s Day”—Washington, for example—and you use one of the grammar book stylings instead, you’re still technically wrong.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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language
Here's the Right Way to Pronounce Kitchenware Brand Le Creuset

If you were never quite sure how to pronounce the name of beloved French kitchenware brand Le Creuset, don't fret: For the longest time, southern chef, author, and PBS personality Vivian Howard wasn't sure either.

In this video from Le Creuset, shared by Food & Wine, Howard prepares to sear some meat in her bright orange Le Creuset pot and explains, "For the longest time I had such a crush on them but I could never verbalize it because I didn’t know how to say it and I was so afraid of sounding like a big old redneck." Listen closely as she demonstrates the official, Le Creuset-endorsed pronunciation at 0:51.

Le Creuset is known for its colorful, cast-iron cookware, which is revered by pro chefs and home cooks everywhere. The company first introduced their durable pots to the world in 1925. Especially popular are their Dutch ovens, which are thick cast-iron pots that have been around since the 18th century and are used for slow-cooking dishes like roasts, stews, and casseroles.

[h/t Food & Wine]

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