Minnesotans were made for Twitter. After all, we long ago raised truncated talk to an art form. If there were an adjective that meant "not inclined to use adjectives," it would describe us perfectly. We even leave out the object when we end a sentence with "with" -- as in, "Wanna come with?"
"Speaking in shorthand is sort of what it's all about," said Howard Mohr, author of "How to Talk Minnesotan." "So the three basics -- 'you bet,' 'whatever' and 'that's different' -- will allow you to have a conversation without actually committing yourself to a solid opinion."
But that no-extraneous-words approach works only when we're in the same room or on the phone. When it came to pesky written correspondence, our shorthand went missing. We had to say, "OK, then, we'll go with the formal tone."
Then came Twitter, with its premium on brevity. Minnesotans weren't even fazed by the social network's 140-character limit on posts.
It might be too soon for social-media experts to know how prevalent our clipped manner of speaking has become on Twitter, but a recent study found widespread use of geographical dialects on that medium. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University examined 380,000 tweets from one week and found that they often reflect regional flavor.
But, doncha know, as usual the academics focused their findings everywhere but here in flyover land. So they learned that Southerners used "y'all" and Pittsburghians "yinz" frequently for the second-person plural.
New Yorkers frequently substituted "suttin" for "something," and Northern Californians subbed out "hella" for "very."
"I would hesitate to say without more research" whether there are Upper Midwest patterns on Twitter, said Scott Kiesling, associate professor of linguistics at the University of Pittsburgh. "The research findings so far have been about cities more than regions."
He added that researchers "usually do make a split between the Upper Midwest and the Northern cities just south of the Eastern Great Lakes" and that "everything changes when you move west of the Mississippi River. But in terms of having a Twitter dialect, we would need to see more."
So here, for those pointy-heads out East, are a few tips on how to tweet Minnesotan:
Nouns are optional, as subjects or objects. Our so-called expletives -- "uff da" and "ish" -- are short enough not to need abbreviation.
Still, there are plenty of phrases that would make suitable Twitter acronyms: YB ("you betcha"), YFS ("yah, fer sure"), WCW ("wanna come with"), DK ("doncha know"), GIF ("gone ice fishing") and UN ("Up North"). But most of those are pretty short to begin with, eh?
We could even adapt some familiar abbreviations to our dialect: WTF ("windchill totally frigid"), ID ("ice dam"), LOL ("loads of lutefisk/lefse"), IMHO ("immense mosquito horde outside"), FWB ("fishing with buddies").
But basically, we can just write as we've always talked.
"It would not surprise me," Mohr said, "to find out that Minnesota was the state champion in tweeting, even before the Internet."
Bill Ward • 612-673-7643