If you ask Minnesotans about their home state, most will tell you it’s an entirely different world up there. The weather makes the landscape look like Planet Hoth from Empire Strikes Back for most of the year, the food is unidentifiable to most out-of-state folks, the accents are hilariously Mid-Western, and to top it all off, there’s a whole host of terms that Minnesotans (and in some cases, its neighboring states’ inhabitants too) use on a regular basis that might as well be part of a different language altogether.
That being said, there’s a lot to like up there (or “up north,” as Minnesotans are known to say). The food is delicious, the sports scene is packed with diehards (“Skol Vikings!”), and the great outdoors offer tons of activities year around — even though you’ll have to bundle up substantially in order to enjoy most things.
As we examine the local terminology, you can consider this article your Minnesotan-to-English dictionary, book a flight to the Twin City area, and start experiencing everything The Land of 1,000 Lakes has to offer.
To the rest of the country, “booyah” (or “booya”) is usually what you yell when showing someone up. To Minnesotans, it’s a stew containing corn, tomatoes, carrots, cabbage, lima beans, a variety of meats, oxtail, and/or basically anything else the chef (or chefs) prefer, and is prepared in a 30-100 gallon vat. Booyah is highly regarded in Minnesota, with the World Championship Booya Cookoff taking place every fall in St. Paul for the last 33 years.
Although this alternative term for a drinking fountain originated, and is extremely popular, in Wisconsin, it bubbled over into neighboring Minnesota, where about one-third of locals use the term, and most at least recognize it. Apparently parts of New England and Australia also say “bubbler,” making it one of the oddest distributions of terminology that we’ve ever seen.
Duck, Duck, Gray Duck
Remember playing Duck, Duck, Goose as a child? Sure you do. Almost everyone does. And almost everyone calls it the exact same thing. Except, of course, for Minnesotans, who call the game “Duck, Duck, Gray Duck.” The gameplay is almost exactly the same (sometimes different colored ducks are named instead of just “duck”), but at the end, the person who is selected as “it” is labeled as a gray duck instead of a goose. Why? No idea. Maybe Minnesotans just like making them say the extra syllable.
What is known as casserole to the rest of the country is called “hot dish” in Minnesota. This meal is immensely popular in Minnesota, thanks in part to the often frigid weather. The exact ingredients can be tinkered with, but beef, green beans, corn, and a can of cream of mushroom soup make for a solid, standard base. Then comes the important part: topping the dish with cheese, and more often than not, tater tots.
As a New Yorker, “Jeet” is only used as a nickname for the greatest shortstop of all time, Derek Jeter. In Minnesota, it’s an unintentional slang term that combines the question “Did you eat?” into one word. As in, “Jeet this morning?”
I know both of these words, but seeing them together? Baffling. Yet a “meat raffle” is exactly what it sounds like: You buy a ticket (or multiple tickets), and when your number gets called, you better start planning a big dinner, because there’s a lot of meat coming your way. These events often occur as part of a fundraising event, so don’t judge — it’s usually for a good cause!
Despite having traveled through most of the United States, I still haven’t managed to nail down which states use which terms for that sweet, carbonated beverage made famous by Pepsi, Coke, and other brands. Although “soda” is generally considered the standard, Minnesota is located squarely in the middle of “pop” country. If you don’t want to sounds like an outsider (although your lack of accent is a dead giveaway), remember this the next time you’re ordering drinks. Although the term may seem odd to some, at least it’s not nearly as ridiculous as parts of the South that use “Coke” for all types of soda. (I lived in South Carolina for five years — go Gamecocks! — so I’m allowed to make fun.)