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The vocabulary of yoopers, trolls and fudgies


If you know where the "yoopers" and the "trolls" live, there’s a very good chance that you’re from Michigan.

On this week’s edition of That’s What They Say, host Rina Miller and University of Michigan English Professor Anne Curzan discuss some vocabulary that is unique to the state of Michigan.

Since its recent addition to the Merriam Webster Collegiate Dictionary, yooper, a term referring to people from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, has gotten a lot of attention. However, there are plenty of other fun Michigan words that are not making headlines.

While yooper refers to residents of the Upper Peninsula, those that live south of the Mackinac Bridge may be lightheartedly referred to as trolls since they are “under the bridge.”

Both yoopers and trolls may also identify as fudgies when indulging in a classic Michigan treat.

Fudgies are tourists who spend time up north where they can buy fudge,” Curzan explains. She adds more Michigan expertise with the comment, “We know that 'up north' is northern Michigan, but not the Upper Peninsula.”

In addition to fudge, Michiganders include pasties and paczki in their mouthwatering vocabulary of food.

Since Curzan is not a Michigan-native, she notes other speech idiosyncrasies in the state. “When I moved here, I was really thrown by people saying ‘We’re gonna go to the bar.’” She explains, “I thought that everyone had agreed on what bar they were going to and they had forgotten to tell me.”

While many people would use the article “a,” speakers from Michigan often refer to the bar, the hospital or the movies.

Finally, due to the Northern Cities Vowel Shift, some Michiganians have a distinctive accent with longer, more nasally vowels. If you try saying the word “bag” and it sounds more like “b??g,” you’re likely from Michigan.

What is some of the vocabulary that you guys use? 

-Clare Toeniskoetter, Michigan Radio Newsroom

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