When I first moved to Minnesota from Missouri in the late '90s, the two questions I heard on repeat were:
1. Why don't you have an accent?
2. Do you guys eat squirrel down there?
My answer(s): Eating road-kill squirrel removes any known accent. (I think that's the method Tom Brokaw used.)
While accents, like wedding rings, are little stranger windows into our lives, differences in accents once carved out by remoteness are starting to disappear, according to a recent story in the Guardian.
But as one linguist explains, these accents aren't necessarily going away--they're evolving as communities become less isolated from one another.
It's not just accents that are changing; regional colloquilalisms are going through a transformation, too. While we might not always speak like we write, how we use language on social-networking sites like Twitter can offer insight into how language and culture are shifting.
A recent survey of geotgagged tweets revealed that in Minnesota there are isolated spots (like here in the Twin Cities) where y'all have been using "y'all," despite its birth and continued prominence in the Southeast.
Still, if the Harvard Dialect Survey in the New York Times is any indication, our use of language, for the time being at least, continues to be a heavy indicator of who we are and how we understand ourselves and each other. Ten years from now, linguists suggest, such geographical markers will be harder to read.
Real honest moment (™): I am a full-grown adult woman who, a few months ago, used the word "muskacholli," properly spelled "muskaccioli." I was using it to describe that meaty, cheesy, tomato-y pasta the rest of the world knows as mostaccioli.
It turns out, I'm not the only one. According to numerous sources, it's a typical St. Louis thing. Apparently an entire metro area of 2.85 million people is known for pronouncing it that way, and it's the only one that does. The origin of "muskacholli" still remains unclear. (Can't someone do a dissertation on this already?!) But it's a strange skip in a record that immediately identifies me. At least until it finally goes global on Twitter. I wonder what muskacholli would taste like with squirrel…
Molly Priesmeyer is the co-owner of Good Work Group, a creative and storytelling consultancy dedicated to helping mission-driven businesses and organizations succeed. Her stories on culture, the arts, and the environment have appeared in the Star Tribune; Pioneer Press; Minneapolis St. Paul Magazine; Rolling Stone; MinnPost; and others. She's been working on her novel, "Why Me? A Martyr's Guide to Live," since 5th grade. She can be reached at www.mollypriesmeyer.com.
More than half the people outside the government who met with Hillary Clinton while she was secretary of state gave money — either personally or through companies or groups — to the Clinton Foundation. It's an extraordinary proportion indicating her possible ethics challenges if elected president.
No, we won't be cleaning up the yard or barbecuing anytime soon, but after a run of colder than average weather 30s will feel like a meteorological bargain next week - some guidance even hinting at 40s by the end of next week. Snow? A little here and there, but no headline-grabbing storms are brewing just yet.
A few nuisance snows are on the way; one today, another coating to 1" possible tomorrow, maybe some blowing and drifting on Super Bowl Sunday as colder air approaches. Enjoy a fleeting weekend thaw, because February chill returns next week. Long-range models still hint at a Pacific thaw the latter half of February, but winter isn't nearly done with us yet.