Saturday, April 21, 2018

How to Speak Midwestern by Edward McClelland

(Belt Publishing) This is a pleasant little book breaking up the Midwest into regions and explaining the linguistic peccadillo of each part, and the whys, and weirdness of it all. That is presented with conversationally academic studiousness. But the second half of the book is just a great unscientific, silly, random-ish, delightful blog post about slang from each region, some hardly slang at all (numbers of highways [190 in Buffalo], nicknames of popular bands [the Mats in Minnesota], horrible traditions [Devil's Night" in Detroit], and State Pies [Sugar Cream Pie in Indiana]). Fun and goofy, this part of the book certainly has some debatable entries (in Illinois we call sneakers "gym shoes," we are told, which I did not know was particularly regional, and there's no mention that we have a sandwich of that name, sorta (sometimes spelled Jim Shoo). And shouldn't there have been a 20-page study of "jagoff," I need more jagoff in my regional dialect breakdowns (it's credited to Pittsburgh and given far less attention than it deserves). Also learned MN-men and gals clown on the Fargo-talk for tourists. Good for them!

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