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13 Expressions You Need to Learn Before Coming to Wisconsin

Wisconsin Culture
by Laura Tritt Sep 23, 2017

WHEN I MOVED to Wisconsin twenty years ago from a distant place we call Minnesota, I felt that by crossing the Mississippi, I had entered foreign territory. Sconnie colloquialisms made absolutely zero sense. Book your Milwaukee Airbnb and get ready to party. Here is a guide to help you understand.

1. “Booyah”

If you are hearing the word “booyah” in Wisconsin, it is not coinciding with a clenched fist and elbow thrust downwards. No major achievement is being brazenly celebrated.

Unless, of course, you count boiling a twenty-gallon pot of soup containing 30 pounds of chicken, five pounds of beef, and an assortment of vegetables over an open fire for a large group of people as a major achievement.

2. “Bubbler”

Leave your fancy schmancy water fountain business back where yous guys came from and call it a “bubbler” like everyone else around these parts.

3. “Yous guys”

“Yous guys wanna come over to play some Sheephead?”

It doesn’t matter if it is just you. It doesn’t matter if you are a “she.” It does not matter if you are a group of women.

It certainly doesn’t matter how many long, exhausting hours the top-notch English instructors statewide have put into eliminating this phrase from “Sconnie-speak”.

4. “Stop ‘n go lights”

Traffic lights? Please. In ‘Scansin, we just call them what they are, dontchya know?

5. “Do you wanna come with?”

“I’m heading to the lake. Do you wanna come with?”

No, the question has not dropped off mid-sentence, so don’t wait for the rest of it and get moving or you might miss out on some good fishing.

6. “Come here real quick.”

“Quick” by itself is not quick enough. Yous gots to be “real quick.”

7. “FIB”/”UP”

You need to know your friendly state acronyms, otherwise, you won’t have a clue that when they tell you that the best skiing is “up der in da “UP”, they are telling you to hop the highway to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Or when they are cursing the FIB’s under their breath, they are referencing their southern visitors, who enjoy vacationing “up north” during the hot, summer months.

8. “Believe you me!”

I feel very passionate about the fact that you should believe me. So passionate, that I’m tempted to go ahead and end every sentence of my story with this mumbo-jumbo.

9. “Will you borrow me…?”

Sconnies have just gone ahead and replaced the word “lend” with the word “borrow”. Keeping the entire transaction limited to one verb makes it easier.

10. “For Cripes Sakes!”

Polite Wisconsinites went ahead and tamed down “For Christ’s Sake” and replaced it with a friendlier version.

“For cripes sakes Glenda, where’s my brat and brewski?”

Endearing, isn’t it?

11. “Ya know?”

In Wisconsin, we love nothing more than to add this little phrase to the tail-end of every galdurn sentence we say. Sometimes, we throw a “Dontch-ya know” in there to shake things up.

“I was walking down the street, ya know? And I came to the stop n’ go light, ya know. And that’s when I saw her with him, dontchya know?”

12. “Uff –da”

A catchall term used to express various types of emotion. You might hear it blurted out in times of joy, frustration, exhaustion, or even as a swear word. It all depends on context and how one says it.

“He was in an accident, something awful last night.”

“We aced the presentation!”

13. “How’s by you”

If you get asked this in Wisconsin, you are in. You best be ready to grab a Spotted Cow, sit down, and stay awhile. And if you are feeling it, go ahead and respond, “Fair to middlin.”

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