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Haddayr Copley-Woods [userpic]

What a Minnesotan really means

January 28th, 2012 (02:35 pm)

Having lived in Minnesota for more than 18 years now, and influenced by the table of Britishisms explained, I have decided to go into public service. You're welcome, transplants to Minnesota!

What a Minnesotan SaysWhat s/he meansWhat the transplant thinks
"I'll get right on that!"I will never do this.This will be done very quickly!
"Um, I guess that might be okay."No.Yes.
"That's different."I hate that.He likes my unusual choices!
"Maybe you should think about . . ."DROP EVERYTHING AND DO THIS NOW.She's offering me her thoughts.
[longish pause] "Yeah, that's [smallish pause] good!"That is disgusting. Do not ever order this under any circumstances.What I am about to order at this restaurant is good and I will enjoy it.
"It's a mite nippy out!"It is 30 degrees below zero with a wind chill of minus 60.Perhaps I should put on a sweater!
"Wow! It was so nice to meet you!"Goodbye.I made a great impression on that guy!
"This was a great conversation. We will definitely get back in touch with you!"Get the fuck out of my office and thank you for wasting my time.I TOTALLY nailed that interview!
"You know, other guys might shovel the snow downwind."Oh Christ you are an idiot.He thinks I'm an idiot.
"Can you borrow me a dollar?"Will you loan me a dollar?What the hell is this person asking me? What is happening? i don't need to borrow a dollar someone help me
"Nice day, eh?"why do we live here this crushing hellish nightmare of my existence is best borne quietlyWow. This person thinks icy slush and hail is pleasant weather.
"Oh, I don't know about that . . ."You are wrong; you are completely talking out of your ass. If you don't stop talking about this I will punch you right in the jaw.This person does not know much about this topic or is very mildly disagreeing with me. I shall try to explain why I am right!
"Have a nice day."Goodbye.That person wants me to have a nice day!
"Have a super nice day!"Go fuck yourself.That person REALLY wants me to have a nice day!


Comments

Posted by: benrosenbaum (benrosenbaum)
Posted at: January 30th, 2012 02:09 pm (UTC)

From my perhaps-not-entirely-parallel-but-somewhat-reminiscent experience in Switzerland, I do think the "I know I am flouting this rule" thing matters a lot, in terms of the reactions I get. I went through at least three distinct phases in dealing with the analogous cultural differences; Phase One in which I would blithely roll over the cultural signals I was wholly ignorant of, driving 80% of the Swiss crazy with consternation or indignation and absolutely delighting the remaining 20% with my (unintentional) rebel radicalism; Phase Two in which I mostly tried to completely act Swiss and suppress my original communication style, with outbursts of rage-filled defiance; and Phase Three in which I had internalized Swiss cultural standards to the extent that while I was constantly breaking the rules, I was doing so with an understanding of the effect I was having, telegraphing nonverbally that I knew I was doing so, and monitoring reactions to be able to handle them appropriately.

I may in some respects be entering a Phase Four in which the Swiss way of doing things actually starts to seem natural and my US relations start accusing me of talking and acting Swiss!

My favorite bit of Swiss translation, by the way: in Bern, we would be invited over for dinner a lot, and occasionally the Swiss hosts would say, "Auuso." Which means, "therefore". Formally, it's a perfectly acceptable conversational space-filler like "Well", so I would treat it as such and hang around chatting for another hour or two. But I eventually discovered it also, pretty much every time, meant "it's time for you guys to go." Oops.

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