Residents of Fargo, ND accent.

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by mathman, Nov 18, 2015.

  1. mathman Valued Senior Member

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    I am a fan of the movie and recent TV series entitled Fargo. The people speak with an accent different from most of the U.S. How widespread is it and how did it develop?
     
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  3. Janus58 Valued Senior Member

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    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North-Central_American_English

    The accent is a bit over emphasized in both the movie and TV show. One thing about this Wikipedia article is that is says that the accent is prevalent throughout Northern Minnesota. That's not quite true, as there is a small part of Northern Minn. that does have its own variation. This is in the Iron range area ( or locally, "the Range".) This region does have its own "Range accent". I'm not too sure how easy it is to distinguish from the average Minnesotan accent for people outside of the region, but a Range accent is noticeably different to the ear of a Minnesotan. (Go anywhere else in Minnesota and they can tell you are from the Range by listening to you talk.) I grew up in the region and lived there until I was almost 11. I've since lost most of my accent, except for a few hang overs ( for one, from time to time a "t" slips in when I say "across" and it comes out "across't")

    I'm not 100% sure how the Range accent became different, but I think that it is likely because of the fact that the major industry in the area are the Iron mines (the Iron range was one of the largest iron ore deposits in the world) Even though there was ethnic mixing in the rest of the state, there still tended to be some "keeping to your own" and you would have German, communities, Finnish communities, etc. In the Range, the communities and towns tended to center around the mines, So the different ethnic groups tended to intermix a little more, and this led to a blending of accents and dialects which resulted in the range accent.
     
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  5. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    It's generally said that this part of the USA had a large community of Scandinavians, especially Swedes--who were called "square heads" because of the haircuts the men favored. The accent that actors affect in movies about that region in that era is clearly Swedish--particularly by Frances McDormand in "Fargo."

    I don't know how much of this is true, although there are certainly a lot of people of Swedish ancestry living there today.
     
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  7. Janus58 Valued Senior Member

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    Where I lived, a good portion were Finnish ( as am I by descent).
     
  8. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    The dialect coaches for the movie claim Nordic bases, a general lilting that appears to be from no particular European country but is obviously Scandinavian (all three) to some notable degree. I would throw in Canadian Scottish and coastal (western coast) Irish influence, along with a bit of German. A lot of the effect in the movie comes from the body language, which was likewise highlighted (not so much exaggerated as framed and made to stand out).

    It's not a universal, or even majority, Minnesota way of talking - the central cities of Minnesota were referred to, by Garrison Keillor, as "Stuttgart on the Mississippi" for a reason - but it isn't as overdone or parodic as many Minnesotans labeled it on first hearing. It's fading now, but in the Coen bros childhood it was fairly common in places - you can still find the full Fargo in a kitchen or two.

    https://stancarey.wordpress.com/2012/11/12/fargo-accent-and-dialect-notes/
    http://dialectblog.com/2011/05/29/the-fargo-accent/

    From the second link, a test sentence if you're not sure you're listening to a Ranger or a NoDak: "A sure-fire way to really hear a Minnesotan is to demand to hear the sentence “look at the bag there on the roof of the boat”. Never fails."
     
  9. milkweed Valued Senior Member

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    ahHa! Thats IT!

    My kid recently had a european guest for a couple of weeks and she wanted to hear that minnesootan accent. In their ventures, they also wandered into northwestern wisconsin and came across an accent that we couldnt name.
    The Range Accent!! Thats it!

    It was a lot of fun having our fluent in 5 languages guest who would just crack up everytime a waitress would say You Betcha when we asked for something. We should have ventured onto the Range also. Next time.
     
  10. mathman Valued Senior Member

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    When people would parody Sarah Palin the phrase "you betcha" was often used. Is that typical of Alaska or just her? Is there a relationship to Fargo speech?
     
  11. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    No, that's a common phrase throughout the USA. "Betcha" is a palatalization of "bet you," as in "I'll bet you that...", and of "bet your," as in "you bet your life on..."

    "You betcha" is a truncation of the latter, leaving the object of the bet to the imagination of the listener: You bet your [something dear, precious, etc.] on the outcome of this [event, project, wager, etc.].

    It's also an expression of assurance or compliance:
    "Will you be able to give me a ride to school tomorrow? If I'm late, I'll miss the exam and get a bad grade."
    "You betcha!"​
     
  12. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member

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    Growing up in a rural region which was largely settled and inhabited by Swedes, I recognize the phrases, words and mannerisms used in the show, though we didn't have the accent. But the accent is reminiscent of Swedish.
     

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