Being a native Hoosier, when I first moved to the Fargo area, I was hyper-aware of all the strange things people here said. It was almost like another language sometimes. I had to ask what certain sayings or words meant, and sometimes there was confusion because the way I talked was different than the way my new friends did.
Ten years later, I’ve adjusted and most of the Fargo-area colloquialisms are old hat. In fact, I’ve even (unintentionally) adopted the Nordic “o” sound and slight accent.
This post is one that’s been on my list for many months, because I think regional slang is just so fascinating. That’s why I present you … the weird things that people say in eastern North Dakota/western Minnesota (from the perspective of an Indiana girl).
The one thing that grates on my nerves more than anything up here is how locals pronounce karaoke. All I had ever heard it pronounced before was “carry-oh-key.” Up here? “Kuh-row-key.”
When something is across the street on the other side from you, in Indiana, it is catty corner. Here, it’s kitty corner. Which you’d think I prefer because cats are awesome, but even Buzzfeed agrees with me that it’s catty.
Taco in a bag
Back home, walking tacos were the shit. You know, taco meat and toppings inside a bag of Fritos. Here, they are tacos in a bag and they are eaten with Doritos. I would be upset about this, but it turns out it’s damn delicious with Doritos, so I give this one a pass.
Where I come from, your parents’ sister is your aunt, rhyming with ant. Here, it rhymes with haunt.
This is the most confusing thing of them all. Many folk here (primarily the older ones) refer to the second meal of the day as dinner and the last one as supper. Which makes dinner plans quite confusing sometimes. So in Indiana, we ate breakfast, lunch and dinner; here they eat breakfast, dinner and supper.
I’m on a fine line between hating and embracing this term. In Minnesota country, they eat hotdish. Hotdish is any kind of meal consisting of a meat, veggie, starch and cream of whatever soup baked in the oven. So basically, what the rest of the world calls a casserole. I literally had never heard of a hotdish before moving here, but I came to quickly find out they are all the rage here. It’s like, a giant culture thing. Tater tot hot dish is by far the most popular (and delicious).
Ride bike/drive truck
I recall finding this little colloquial gem out when I worked as a summer intern as a copy editor at the Fargo newspaper. I saw the phrase “drive truck,” as in “No I can’t go to the party. I gotta drive truck tomorrow.” and I promptly red-penned that sucker for correction. I then found out that it is such a common phrase here that they let it fly, but only by profession. So if you are a semi driver that gets paid from a company, you can drive truck. But if you’re poppin’ in your pickup to get some milk, you drive your truck or a truck or the truck, or you drive trucks, or you’re a truck driver.
Similar to ride bike. My husband sometimes says things like “I remember when I was a kid riding bike to my neighbor’s house,” and I always say “you mean riding your bike? You’re missing an article, chief.” But no, he contends that’s just how they say it here. I will never succumb to this silly rule of a grammatical mess.
“Oh fer cute”
This really is an endearing little phrase you’ll hear old grannies say in these parts. Show someone your rad new kicks and you’ll get an “Oh fer cute” response. Tell a side-splitting knock-knock joke and you’ll get an “oh fer funny.” Say something stupid and you’ll get an “Oh fer dumb.” It’s a thing.
The most cliche and totally true phrase Minnesotans and North Dakotans say is definitely uff dah (pronounced “oof-dah”). You’d think this is limited to old people but I legit hear young folk say this too. It’s used as a strong exclamation of any emotion, but I like to think of it as a “gosh darn it.”
Another cute expression similar to Uff Da and the “oh fers.” As in, “Dolores said it’s pretty windy out today, dontcha know?” Also must be said with the long “o” sound.
Duck Duck Gray Duck
You probably know this game as Duck Duck Goose.
Many folk (mostly older) shorten the word refrigerator to frig. They still pronounce it fridge, but write it as frig.
The one thing both (most) Hoosiers and Fargoans can agree on though, is that bubbly carbonated beverages are called pop.