No doubt, the people of the Upper Peninsula have a dialect all their own, but where did it come from and what does it mean to those who live here?
Author Kathryn Remlinger explores the native dialect in her book, Yooper Talk: Dialect as Identity in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
“My research area focused on Marquette and the northwest of the UP, so the Copper Country over to Marquette, and the dialect in the area changes a lot, and not just because of the vast expanse—that’s a huge part of it, but also settlement patterns,” said Remlinger.
Remlinger is an English Professor at Grand Valley State University and a Michigan Tech alumna.
In her book, she talks about how we ended up with phrase such as Holy Wah!, pronunciations for words like sauna, and local sentence structure.
Remlinger said, “The language will vary on all these levels—pronunciation, vocabulary, even some grammatical features, so here you might hear people say ‘Let’s go Shopko’, instead of “Let’s go to Shopko’, and that’s a direct influence of Finnish because Finnish doesn’t have prepositions.”
Remlinger hosted a Meet and Greet at Michigan Tech on Tuesday. If you missed it, you can still hear her entire interview on this week’s episode of Copper Country Today.