Melanie was raised in Michigan (an hour outside of Chicago) and has been living in the Midwest ever since.
Groups of people from every US state and every place in the world have a unique accent and have their own slang. People from the great state of Michigan are no different! If you’re not from Michigan and have heard our accent, it might seem a little bit odd to you. And, top it all off, we also have our own vocabulary.
If you’re not from the Midwest at all, you might think, as many do, that the Michigan accent (or dialect, really) is similar to the Minnesotan accent or Chicago accent. I can see why people might think that, but the Michigan accent is one of a kind.
Growing up close to Chicago, I have a sort of hybrid accent, a bit more on the Chicago side of pronunciation. I can’t say it’s entirely Chicagoan, though. I often get caught ‘Michiganizing’ words. My mother, however, has a stronger Michigan accent, which is different than mine (sometimes we’ll poke fun at how her accent is like Michael Moore’s.)
I’m going to share some of the colloquialisms and pronunciations that my mother and other Michiganders I’ve met (particularly those from the western/southwestern part of the Mitten, where I grew up) use.
A Quick "Michiganisms" Video
- 19 Signs You're From Michigan
You know you're from Michigan when... everything on this list of Michigander stereotypes applies to you! A fun guide on the strange quirks of the Mitten state and its inhabitants.
There are some words and phrases we use in Michigan that aren’t often used elsewhere around the country. Here are some things you may hear if you spend enough time in the state:
Meijers and Krogers: (instead of Meijer and Kroger) – We like to put an S in the name of everything to make it possessive. Everyone around here says it as Meijer’s. Others, from out of town, have called it “Meijer” and it sounded weird. Friends will point out when we make these stores (and other place names possessive.)
The Mitten: (Yes, it’s a proper noun; it’s the name of a state for Pete’s sake!) This refers to the state of Michigan because, on a map, Michigan is shaped like a mitten. Mittens are of extreme importance to Michiganders because it can get relatively cold here.
Michigander: A person from Michigan. (This is probably actually a term used nationwide and not just a local thing.)
The U.P.: I've seldom heard a Michigander say "the Upper Peninsula." It sounds so formal! Perhaps it's only said when teaching people what U.P. means. You say each letter like "You Pea," not like the direction "up."
Up north: This is where you go if you're traveling within Michigan.
The union: "The union" is so integrated into Michigan life that when I was a kid, I thought the student union at Michigan State had something to do with the United Automobile Workers (UAW). When a Michigander says "the union" it generally means UAW. In my area, however, it's used to describe unions in/near Chicago.
It's pop, not soda:
Ope: This is a Midwestern thing and not just a word used in Michigan. It's used in the place of oops, for example when running into someone by accident. "Ope! I'm sorry!"
A party store is where a Michigander buys alcohol.
This is a U-turn. The name comes from the road design (common throughout Michigan) to allow for U-turns at intersections where cars cannot turn left. Instead, they are expected to make a U-turn, then turn right. The design includes a lane made specifically for U-turns. Interestingly enough, in some states U-turns are illegal. More about the Michigan left.
This Is a Michigan Left
Why do some people say soda and others say pop?
According to Ben Smith of DialectBlog, soda gets its name from soda fountains which were first seen in the eastern United States. At this time, much of the midwest was a bit behind and were purchasing this beverage by the bottle. Easterners eventually adopted the term "soda" to refer to carbonated soft drinks.
It's said that "pop" comes from the sound made when a cork is removed from a bottle.
Words for People (Tourists and Locals)
Townies: A townie is a derogatory term used by non-Michiganders visiting Michigan. Michigan's coastline is lined with small tourist towns frequented by wealthy people. Calling a Michigander a townie is like calling someone a commoner or a peasant. But it's okay; we've got a word for the out-of-staters slinging around such terms...
FIPs: This is what Michiganders in the southwestern areas of the Mitten (particularly in Berrien County) call people who visit from Illinois. Many FIPs are very nice, but often Michiganders feel they are rude. The term FIP is an acronym for *ahem* "F*cking Illinois People."
FOPs: FIPs from Ohio. This term is less commonly used.
Yoopers: This is what people from the upper peninsula are called.
Flatlanders: What Yoopers call those from the Lower Peninsula.
Fudgies: This is what Michiganders call tourists visiting the northern parts of Michigan.
Trolls: This is what Yoopers call those who live in the lower peninsula. This is because they live "under" the bridge.
Michiganders Like to Save Time
A big part of the Michigan accent is about saving time. We talk fast here, so to do so, we utilize two elements the French call the liaison and the elision. This is a way to mash up words to make pronunciation easier and faster.
The French language has a nice set of rules as to how to use a liaison. Unfortunately, there are no rules for how we butcher our words in Michigan; it's often just what's most convenient.
A great example is a phrase my mother uses:
Jeet?: When I was a teen, my parents hosted a foreign exchange student from Hungary. Before she got here, someone came over to give my mom a sort of linguistics lesson on how to avoid using phrases like "Jeet?" to not alienate the exchange student. So what the heck does "jeet?" mean? It means "Did you eat?"
People from other states might shorten that to just "Didja eat?" but that's still not acceptable to a Michigander. Another one, very similar to this is "imunna" which means "I am going to." Again, others just shorten this to "I'm gonna'" but we're innovators, so we shortened it further!
Yuh guys: In Michigan, we say "yuh guys," even when speaking to women. Since many Michiganders won't say "y'all," "yuh guys" is what we're left with. Note the time-saving "yuh" versus "you." Keep in mind that it's a quickly spoken word, so don't drag out the "uh" sound.
Secretariah State: In Michigan, we go to the Secretary of State to get our driver's license, not the Bureau/Department of Motor Vehicles as in other states. To save time, we just change the pronunciation of "of" to "uh" and mash it onto secretary.
Lookit!: This one is kind of tough to explain, but it is something a lot of people around here use (though I don't do this anymore). This is said when you find something cool, gross, or worth a look. You say, "Lookit." I think it's a combination of the words "Look at it" and is comparable to saying "check this out."
Where at?: This is NOT a time saver, but something my mom says all the time. Instead of just saying "where?" she adds the "at." In fact, I've noticed that a lot of people around here end their sentences with prepositions. I try to avoid it, but sometimes it slips out unnoticed.
Fyer: It's pronounced "fyer," not "fire." (I can't even pronounce fire the "correct" way!)
It's "meer" not "mirror."
We don't say "clothes," it's "cloze." "Ya' left yur cloze on the floor."
Melk - Some Michiganders say this to mean milk. (We don't say this in the southwest of Michigan, but it can be heard elsewhere.)
Michigan Place Names
Pontiac - This is pronounced pah-neeack, if you say the "t" sound, you will give away that you're not from Michigan.
Dowagiac - You say this like "D'waah-jack" with an emphasis on the "waah" part.
Livonia - This is pronounced like "Lih-vone-yuh" so don't do an "ia" at the end, it's definitely "yuh."
Grand Rapids - The first part of this city name is too much for Michiganders, so we just skip parts of it: Grranrapids.
Houghton – Ho’un
The Michigan Accent
The Michigan accent is a strange breed of something from Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Ontario. I've been able to stop using words like "lookit" but I cannot stop myself from using my Midwestern accent. When my sister and I tease my mom when she says "car," she gets miffed and shouts, "Well, how am I supposed to say it?" This comes out sounding like, "Well, how my spose'ta' sayit'?" (Note that "how am I" in her speech comes out like "how my.")
The letter "A" as in "car" is a kind of light "ee-yeah" sound. If you're familiar with diacritical marks, it would be kind of like ēă, but much lighter and less noticeable.
Crayons are crēăns (similar sounding to "crans").
Dad is dēăd (again, only a slight difference from "dad").
The long "e" sound, like the "i" in "mirror," is a bit longer and nasally. Also, we don't waste our time with the "or" in "mirror," so it's just "meer." Make it really nasally, though.
Glottal stop: This is when your voice kind of stops in the middle of a word and then starts again. Think of a kid saying, "Uh-oh!" In Michigan, we like to do glottal stops at the end of our words, which is kind of like a tiny bit of forced breath. For example, when we say Detroit, we don't say the "t" sound at the end. Instead, it's like "Detroi" and then a bit of forced breath.
If the word has a double consonant 't' in it, like "kitten" or "button," there is a glottal stop without the t sound being pronounced: kitten = kih'ihn, button = buh'ton or buh'ohn. (Thanks to from Doe·Wah·Jack for pointing this out!)
The letter "t": Leave it to a Michigander to screw up the pronunciation of a consonant! If the letter "t" occurs in the middle of a word, it has a "d" sound. This is so embedded in my speech that I can't say a word like "city" with a "t" without sounding like I'm trying hard for that "t" sound. It's "ciddy."
"Ah" as in father has to be drawn out. In Michigan, you don't have a mom. You have a "maahm." And after school, you go to "haahckey" practice. On a slightly related note, Chicago is "Chic-aah-go," not "Chi-caw-go."
Everybody's going snurfing!
The concept of snowboarding was invented in Muskegon, Michigan where it was originally called snurfing. The first snowboard was a wide ski ridden like a skateboard (no binding.) Nowadays, everyone just calls it snowboarding.
What Accent Do You Have?
What American Dialect Do YOU have?
The New York Times has an online quiz you can take that will analyze your accent to show which area of the country you're from.
It chose Grand Rapids for me (see the map above for my results.)
Take the quiz to get your personal dialect map.
Where does it say you're from? Let me know in the comments below!
© 2011 Melanie Shebel
Tim W. on August 01, 2020:
My results: Fremont, CA; San Jose, CA; Stockton, CA. I am. in fact, from Vallejo, CA, an SF Bay Area town a few miles North.
Also a SPARTAN! Heard the talk. Go Green!
Josh D on July 12, 2020:
A garage in Michigan is a grage. No tim for useless syllables. I really noticed it when I heard Kid Rock say "I go behind the grage and fire it up" in Bull God.
Konnie Sue on June 30, 2020:
Why do we go to 'the Soo' and not 'the' before any other city. We do go to 'the island' meaning Mackinac, or 'the bridge' meaning the big Mac, or 'the thumb' for the bay area, out on'the big lake' for one of the 4 .
Michigander can’t drive on June 09, 2020:
Don’t forget that after a Michigander removes the “T” from a word (Like when Mountain becomes Mou-‘un), they give it back by adding then”T” to another word, like acrost instead of across.
Milo on May 18, 2020:
me and my friend read this instead of doing homework and now we are contemplating everything
Mary L. Simons on May 03, 2020:
Southwestern Michigan pronunciation of "milk" is "melk" in Allegan, Ottawa, Kalamazoo, Barry and Kent counties at least. The area has many Dutch and the word in Dutch is "melk". Far southwestern Michigan may be different.
marley davis on May 01, 2020:
wow i know a lot more now thank you Melanie a lot it may be called pop or soda i dont know I call it soda but that's me but thank you again
David Caprathe on March 01, 2020:
I’ve always heard it called “Michigan mush mouth” because of our tendency to smash words together and say things quickly.
Cheyenne Davis on February 27, 2020:
It is SO true with the Pontiac thing. I read it as Poneeak. Also, did anyone else that lived in rural Michigan have a 'side yard'? Also, you could drive tractors on our road without a seat belt, I did it once and drove down the road into town to get some pop. Yes, I said pop. Sue me.
Tim on November 24, 2019:
I've lived here all my life you got it. For example it took me two years to understand a true Michigander.
True enough he was down to earth, that's okay good man.
Kyle on November 04, 2019:
There's more to Detroit than the "t" at the end. It's Duhtroi', not Deetroit
Paula on October 09, 2019:
It’s a parking structure or I’m parking in the structure .. not a parking garage..or it a door wall not a slider or a sliding door.
David on September 20, 2019:
Because when you're from Michigan you're family! :)!
Spiritu Tuo on August 12, 2019:
You forgot the main thing about how Michigan people talk - The funny way they pronounce the letter "O". "Come on" is said as 'Come ahnn". Back when I moved here, in the late '70's there was a diaper service that was on the radio all the time saying they would pick up your dirty diapers and give you " Sahft Cahtnny diapers" (Soft, cottony diapers) LOL Some try to outdo everyone when they have an "O" word. Want some "Pahhp"? (Pop) LOL That is how I pick out a Michigander anywhere in the world! The other ones you mentioned are, actually more nationwide, not just limited to Michigan. People in almost every State say "worshrag" instead of "washrag". So, you are generalizing as if it is only Michigan, it's not! Haha. Many, many people say "ciddy" insteqad of City- it is not a Michigan thing, it's a human thing. You did mention it in the wrong place. You wrote: "In Michigan, you don't have a mom. You have a "maahm." And after school, you go to "haahckey" practice. On a slightly related note, Chicago is "Chic-aah-go," not "Chi-caw-go." THAT'S THE FUNNY "O" I am talking about. you should have had a section on the pronunciation of "O"'s , but you threw it in there with the ""ahhh" of fahhther". You messed up in your writing. Also the glottal stop is universal and everyone does it, again, it is not just in Michigan. Wow. You did mention the funny way Michiganders shy away from saying the "O" sound when you wrote: "Pontiac - This is pronounced "pah-neeack." - That's the funny accent of Michigan people who do not like to say the "O". You wrote about how funny the words are pronounced, but you failed to understand it is all about the way Michigan people do not pronounce an "O", they say an "ahh" and it is so funny and makes them sound silly and foreign. That is the main thing about the Michigan accent. Own it! LOL
Mary Lou Creamer on July 29, 2019:
I think this is a great article, but I have a problem with her map. With a few brief exceptions, I have lived in Port Huron my entire life. Port Huron is located at the base of the thumb, where the bone protrudes out on your hand, not in the middle of the thumb. That means her markings of Flint, Detroit, and Ann Arbor are all off. Port Huron is as far southeast in Michigan as you can go.
Christian on June 13, 2019:
We measure distance in time in Michigan instead of in miles. And its POP not Soda get over it! LOL
Kay on June 01, 2019:
We also use the phrase “Kick the Bucket” to mean death. I heard a news caster in Georgia talking about a severe storm in Michigan tithe TelePrompTer he was reading from said “ the Storm is about to kick the bucket.” Was hilarious the news caster literally stopped speaking to make sure he was reading the TelePrompTer right! Then he said it then said that’s a term people apparently use in Michigan. Lol
me on May 20, 2019:
When saying kitten or mitten we sorta just say mi'in or ki'in.
Sarah on April 05, 2019:
Another thing for saving time... I say 'kai' instead of can i.
And you are so right about the t thing. I tried for a few minutes and i CANNOT say it!
Donna on March 20, 2019:
I say amina, i am. Amina go to the store.
Tony Galano on January 24, 2019:
@ktrose, No, Michigan is NOT the only state in the Union that calls soda "pop" Even Faygo and Vernor's use the word soda on their labels
Tony Galano on January 24, 2019:
In Michigan, it's puh TAY tuhs, as in "Will you pass the mashed puhtaytuhs, please." Or "I love a good baked puhtaytuh with butter and sour.cream
Cindy on November 09, 2018:
My chart showed Rockford, Aurora and Grand Rapids. Interesting—the first 34 years of my life were spent in Aurora! The last 31 years were spent in Brighton, which is halfway between Ann Arbor and Flint. This is a distance away from Grand Rapids, but at least they both are in Michigan. I have only been in Rockford maybe three times in my entire life. Here are two more terms that I’ve found uniquely a part of the Michigan vernacular and still drive me crazy: “Ashphalt” for asphalt, and “door wall” instead of patio doors, or sliding glass door. I learned these right away when we were looking for our house. There were a few words and parts of dialect you listed that I have never heard in 31 years. They might be uniquely from the southwestern part of Michigan. I did, however, love this article Thank you.
Arndt on November 01, 2018:
The Pinky might be worth mentioning. Too much Thumb in the comment section...
Arndt on November 01, 2018:
I moved Up North from Germany 6 years ago into the TC area. My quiz came up with GR. Earned accent :) In Australia they thought I am from Canada. Btw melk is low German for milk, my native language. Should have been a cheesehead thing though. Will go to Meijer's and get some... great article to educate new Michiganders. Thank you
Ally on October 17, 2018:
I lived in Michigan for about 6 years and I moved to Ohio and all of my friends laugh when I say something in my amazing Michigan accent
MichiganDenise on September 26, 2018:
I worked in radio and new-to-town DJs never believed us when we told them how to pronounce “Gratiot.” Like, you can swear? On the radio?!
Mike Hardy from Caseville, Michigan on September 26, 2018:
Cool well thought out article. I’ve got one “Michigan Thing” that’s is common. We express travel in time it takes not miles. “It’s two and a half hours door to door to be get to Port Austin” sometimes we don’t have a clue on how many miles it is?
Jacqueline on September 24, 2018:
I have lived in southeast michigan for all my life. I say about half of these but the other half are just as foreign to me as to someone out of state. I've never heard anyone say fudgie or jeet. Its more like Ja eet.
Mark on August 28, 2018:
Native and proud of my Michigan accent!
Alyson on August 20, 2018:
You know you're a true yooper when you know what a dandy is and you call your buddies "chum".
Lei on July 22, 2018:
So, I took the dialect test, and I received Grand Rapids and Detroit. Which, it's true! I'm from the Detroit area, and by the way, thank you for letting people know how to pronounciate Livonia! For once the Out Of Staters won't get it wrong (hopefully)
bagor on June 20, 2018:
I am from the Grand Rapids area. My mother used the term "Melk". I realized after I married my husband who is first generation American from The Netherlands that "melk" is the Dutch word for milk. I didn't know my grandparents but I do know they spoke Dutch as most of the Reformed and Christian Reformed churches were still preached in Dutch at the time. That is how I learned that word.
T on May 27, 2018:
Aurora, Rockford and Madison are my results. I lived in Posen IL, 30 min south of Chicago until I was 8 and now live in SW Michigan. I am currently 27.
Marquis De Sade 420 on April 13, 2018:
Houghton is pronounced "Ho-Town" by the locals. Has been since at least the 1980's. Pretty sure it's obvious why. Interesting article , explains why the word month is such a pain in the ass and comes out "mundh"...clearly born and raised in the U.P. family trees tend to lack branches after all.
Mysfyt from Novi, MI on March 22, 2018:
Took the dialect quiz: it was spot-on (pretty much). With the exception of Spokane, Washington, it said I was from Grand Rapids or Detroit -which is absolutely right. I am from Detroit!
Andy on February 26, 2018:
It said I was from Detroit. I live in the suburbs. Grew up in the suburbs and lived for 17 years in Orlando. I'm now back in Detroit
Maggie1023 on January 28, 2018:
My husband and I just moved to the Detroit area from Mississippi (he was offered a job here). I've lived in various parts of Mississippi my whole life (born and raised), but I've never really had a typical "Southern Accent." My mom is from Sacramento, CA, and she didn't pick up much of a Southern accent when she first came to MS. Net result: I don't sound like I'm from the South...
UNTIL I GOT TO MICHIGAN. OMG. Apparently I must talk funny: during my first couple of months here, I had to repeat myself just about every single time I said something. Lol. I've met a few people here who are "transplanted Southerners" like myself or at least have family in the South that they regularly go visit. They've all said something along the lines of, "yeah as soon as you opened your mouth I could definitly hear that southern drawl!"
"But I don't have THAT much of a Southern accent."
"Oh yes you do. It's not subtle. At all."
"Well... that's, uh, news to me."
Some other observations:
1. I was immediately and quickly corrected for pronouncing Livonia wrong. It's not "Luh-VAWN-yuh." Noted.
2. State and US highways have both a name AND a number. M39 is Southfield Freeway, US24 is Telegraph, M153 is Ford... when you already have NO CLUE where you are going, and there's also more snow on the ground than you have ever seen in your entire life, AND you can't turn left... hold on- the roads have TWO names. My car's SatNav said: "take the exit for M-39." What did I do? I drove right past the giant sign that said "Southfield Freeway exit." Oops.
3. Another note on driving: I go to school at Henry Ford (planning to transfer to Wayne State). I used my car's SatNav to figure out how to get to school on the first day and it told me: "use the left lane to turn right onto Evergreed Rd." Use the Left... To right? Huh? There seriously needs to be a MICHIGAN SETTING on the GPS that will tell you to take the Southfield Freeway exit (not the M-39 exit) and will give a better description of what to do at some of these weird intersections y'all got here ;) Getting around is not a big deal for me anymore, but at first... I just stayed perpetually lost. Lol.
4. My husband and I went to dinner one night after we first got here. We were chatting with our server, and she said that we should take a trip "Up North." I said, "How much more north can we go? We're already in the North. Canada?" Aaaaaand that's when I learned what "Up North," means in Michiganese. :)
5. Vernor's is delicious. I had no idea how deprived and dark my first 27 years of life have been. If there's no Vernor's in heaven, I don't want to go.
So far I love it here! The people seem genuinely nice, friendly, and welcoming. They show a lot of pride in being from the Detroit area and the state in general. It didn't take long for Michigan to start feeling like home to me. :)
Maleah on December 29, 2017:
I was raised in Michigan and the small town I live in and I don’t know about other people be we call vacationers That come in spring and summer fuggies
Amy on December 15, 2017:
Born and raised in Grand Rapids, MI. Everything in this article is so true. But what I thought was crazy is I never knew Michigan was the only state that did this. I thought everyone talked how we do. I didn’t even know these words were supposed to be pronounced a different way. Lol
Simon on December 07, 2017:
there is slang which i sort of a baby swear. It's "Jeeze-o-petes" There also is slang for a store that doesn't sell gas, we call that a "party store"
George Tackett on November 29, 2017:
The quiz had me down as being from detroit,Toledo or granrapids lol. Born and raised in metro Detroit. Pretty cool : )
Kellie on November 22, 2017:
The quiz listed me from Toledo but I've lived in mid Michigan (the Flint area) pretty much my whole life.
Terry B on November 16, 2017:
Ohio people - stinkin buckeyes
Suzanne Hill on October 27, 2017:
I was born in Kalamazoo and lived in the Detroit area from age four to age eleven. Then we moved to Muskegan, for 8 months, then to Jackson for 15 years. I moved back to Kalamazoo, Plainwell, Otsego, Paw Paw and Mattawan, where I live at present. I have been in this area for 38 years. It showed me Grand Rapids, Detroit and Rockford, IL! Pretty good.
Paul Wiener on October 27, 2017:
Wonderful! After living on Long Island, NY for 32 years, my wife never lost hers. But after being brought up on the edge of the Bronx, I've never had a NY accent!
Suzanna on October 26, 2017:
I grew up in "Granrapids" and we usually call it "GR," which ends up sounding like "jar" in Michigan quick-talk.
Julie on October 26, 2017:
Pretty spot on! I was born, raised and still live in Kalamazoo and it showed me as near Grand Rapids, Detroit and Toledo!
Karen on October 26, 2017:
Technically I live in the Mitt not the hand :) We are the only ones that God gave a physical map. Top of the thumb Mid Mitt. Loved this :)
Marmarjon on October 26, 2017:
Grew up in Michigan, but close to Chicago. Never realized I had any type of "accent" until I was away at a convention and someone asked me if I was from Chicago; LOL. It was fun to listen to other people speaking their own accents, but I never asked anyone where they were from because of their accent. I still do the "Mitten" map thingy. Michigan is a very cool state. I often refer to it as "God's Country." Your article was very informative and fun to read . . . tried out a few of those pronunciations, too. Never realized I do speak like this -- "Lookit". Thanks for all that hard work on your article, too.
Heather Clapham on October 26, 2017:
It says I'm from Detroit and it would be correct! Great article! We Michiganders are one of a kind!
Kate on October 25, 2017:
we also pronounce Elementary as LMN tree. unlike people in New York who pronounce it ele ah men tary
Penny on October 25, 2017:
FYI - In 1965, when Patrice Gaunder (from Stevensville, MI, I believe) won the America's Junior Miss pagent, some of us in the SW MI area started calling ourselves "Michigaunders" in her honor. I've lived in IL for 38 years now, but still consider myself from MI.
Makenzie on October 17, 2017:
Well lotsa people in michigan think if you can't pronounce things correct then you aren't really from michigan. we also say Iron different then people from flordia (my aunt came from flordia and said Iurn xD) And a lot of those i don't use... i was kinda shocked people didn't know how to pronounce Mackinac xD its like Mack-i-naw ... and everyone should call tourists, to michigan, Fudgies xD
Karson on September 25, 2017:
Some of this is definitely localized, but I'm glad other people know that we call tourists fudgies (I'm from Traverse City). I went to college in Grand Rapids and most of the Western Michiganders (versus the Northern Michiganders) have no idea what I'm talking about.
I don't always say everything in the "Michigan Accent" (mine's more of a mix between Michigander and Californian), but great list!
gneiss guy on September 01, 2017:
I was born in Ann Arbor, spent the first year or two in Ypsilanti - but then we moved to Wisconsin and stayed for a while in New York. Funny thing is...I am always asked if I'm from eastern Europe - or somewhere in Europe, anyway. In fairness, I grew up in many foster homes and my Grandmother is an Estonian immigrant and was a big part of my life, so there was definitely a lot of foreign influence on me growing up. I guess the accent that results from that combination of things comes across as European. I think learning Mandarin and Estonian for many years (I'm a dual citizen) made it more "foreign" sounding - and spending every day around my Chinese wife can't help. I'm constantly asked where I'm from - but never does anyone suspect Michigan or Wisconsin or New York. Despite the fact that my first words were spoken and learned in Ypsilanti. My mother and father were not from MI, it might be noted.
Anyway, I guess I was never aware of this accent. Because I have never been back to MI since.
Mysfyt from Novi, MI on August 27, 2017:
"Doorwall"?? The first time I ever heard that word, I just shook my head in disbelief. (And I wasn't a child either. I was an adult.) What exactly is a "doorwall", I thought. A door is a door and a wall is a wall. A "doorwall" cannot be something that you can go through because you can't go through a wall! Those two words don't even go together. They're mutually exclusive. I now know what it is but I still cringe when I hear it. (I guess what people are trying to say is that a "doorwall" a sliding wall that you can walk through.) Why not a "walldoor"? That actually makes more sense.
Mary Fadie on August 26, 2017:
One thing I almost never hear since leaving Michigan is "I seen" her/him/it etc... at the store etc.... it drive me nuts! I have seen or I saw him, etc....
Mysfyt from Novi, MI on August 26, 2017:
You know you're from Michigan when you dictate on your iPad and Siri comes out with almost EVERY word different than what you said. (Siri often combines words or splits a single word into two words. Occasionally, Siri will add an "r" to the end of a word - instead of the word "two", it will put in "tour".) Please tell me it isn't just me! And I've tried it different times of the day, thinking that my early-morning speech isn't understood. (Siri doesn't understand me any better in the afternoon than in the morning.)
Bill Sayo on August 24, 2017:
Lived her most of my life. Some hold true for me and mine, but just as many do not. Maybe it's the out-of-state influences...?
I've been annoyed most of my life by the way most of the folks in SW lower MI add the "r" sound to words like wash - "warsh", only to drop the "r" sound from February - "Febuary".
Kevin Mummery on August 03, 2017:
Apparently I outed myself as a Michigander when I told someone "yarnt sposta" when they asked me if something was permissible. I just though everyone talked like this...wrong again.
Da'Naja on June 16, 2017:
I started crying because I just realized that all of this is true and I didn't know that we were the only ones that have an accent like that! I thought that a lot of other states sounded like us but apparently that's not true. I was born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan and I'm 11/12 y/o and I sound like all of these. It is amazing to see that our state and country is very unique and I would love to hear more of what we actually sound like than other people who aren't from Michigan. This a really cool website and I send lots of love! Thank you!
Venessa on June 15, 2017:
I love this!! I love being from Detroit
Mysfyt from Novi, MI on June 12, 2017:
When it comes to geographical locations of the state of Michigan, you can live in the U.P or you can live in the hand. But the hand has subparts, like the "thumb". Having spent a lot of time driving the roads of Michigan I can tell you this is where a lot of people will tell you they live especially dairy farmers. Maybe you could add that to your list of being either from the "U.P.", "the hand", "outta state" ( otherwise known as "otta state"), or "the thumb", LOL.
Margaret Willis on June 12, 2017:
Here's one that no one can say unless you're from "around here" (another Michigan saying which means "within about a 30-mile radius of the place"): NOVI. Some people say "NO-vee", with the accent on the first syllable. Others say "Nah-vee", with the accent on the first syllable. Still others say "Nah-VEE", with the accent on the second syllable. Like I said you don't know how to say it unless you live "around here": "NO-vi", with the accent on the first syllable (as opposed to: "No-VI", with the accent on the second syllable. As you see, there are at least four different incorrect ways to pronounce it and only one correct way. Have a nice day! :-)
KPOM on May 29, 2017:
You do realize that about 75% of "Michigan" pronunciations and terms apply to those of us from Chicago.
Kate the Great on April 17, 2017:
Seriously; this is one of the best write ups on a Michigan accent I have found. I never thought it was a real thing- a Michigan "accent", but somehow people could always place me as being from MI when we traveled. Now it's just something that happens, I don't try to correct myself, because what's the use, eh?
I HAVE made an effort to say certain things correctly... Like MEIJER (no s. lol) And Realtor (real-tohr) lol.
But there's always gonna be the short speak and abbreviation of words that don't need to be abbreviated. (Gonna, yep, goin ta tha store, etc)
And the words we just say funny... like melk (milk), bahg (bag), tuh (to), yoosta (used to), etc... well, they're just gonna haf ta get yoosta't.
One thing, though... wtf is a door wall. It's a sliding door in West Michigan. Never been a dang door wall. Don't make us look dumb. (hahahahaha totally kidding.)
Cody on April 09, 2017:
Man I've lived in Southeast Michigan all my life, I swear I haven't heard more than half of this stuff pronounced that way. I agree with some of the weird slang we use, glottal stops for sure, and even the nasaly "e" uses, but a lot of it ive never heard commonly.
AShady on April 02, 2017:
Detroit, MI. Yup you got that right :)
W on March 22, 2017:
My family was from Michigan
. Moved to Indy when I was young. Kids in school would say I had a Michigan accent. Thanks to your post. I finally get what they mean.
Andrew on February 18, 2017:
It's always amazing to me as a Michigander how bad of a slang we have!
Cynthia B Turner from Georgia on December 30, 2016:
It's always interesting to listen to the dialect from other parts of the country. I often try to guess where the speaker is from. I confuse Boston area accents with Michigan. (I hope I'm not committing some kind of offense. LOL) I'm from the South and we have our own thing going on down here! Lol. Take care
GreenMind Guides from USA on December 25, 2016:
Hey great hub -- love the attitude and accuracy!
former michigander on November 26, 2016:
Oh man...thank you for the great laugh. My daughter gives me so much grief saying "I'm gonna throw you in the gross nasteee crik" or mauhhh!!! I had to send her this link so she could get a good chuckle as well. I was born in the mitten and lived there for a short part of my life.
Leeleebee on November 13, 2016:
My mom says "warsh" for wash, and "sandwich" instead of sandwich.
Me on November 08, 2016:
Funny. I'm from WV, and I talk like I'm from Michigan.
West Michigan girl on September 25, 2016:
I have live in Michigan all my life. East side Flint & Detriot area. & now West Michigan Grand Rapids. & I have never hear the sliding door called a door wall. I saw this on a nother site. But could not write a comment on it.
John on June 23, 2016:
How could you possibly not include "doorwall"
April Richardson on April 04, 2016:
Oh so true! I'm from Port Austin in "The Thumb".
Amanda on March 25, 2016:
I'm from Kentucky but I am datin a guy from MI. He loves my southern accent and I love his northern one! Although he says he doesn't have one
Suzie from Carson City on February 18, 2016:
Wow.....I don't know if I may have previously commented here and I'm surely not going to scroll through over 600 comments to find out! When you wrote this, did you even think you'd receive such a response??
I am fascinated by our different accents, manners of speaking & how this often gives away where we hail from.
I am scratching my head now though, because as I read through many of the pronunciations, it's clear to me that I pronounce a lot of the words the very same way...?? I'm not from Michigan, nor were any of my extended family members. I don't believe I even KNOW anyone from Michigan. Hmmm....this is strange to me.
Long ago, I had a friend who constantly told me to stop using "er" for "or"......she annoyed me! LOL
Very interesting hub. Thanks. Peace, Paula
moonlake from America on February 18, 2016:
We also say pop and Up. FIP is used often around here. Wisconsin has a lot of the same accent as Michigan. Northern Wisconsin is very different from Southern Wisconsin.
My friend could not understand why the Mackinac Bridge and Island are pronounced MAK-in-aw. She was getting mad when we were on the island and the people there kept correcting her.
I thought it was pretty funny because she corrects my Arkansas accent all the time.
The one thing that drives me nuts about Wisconsin accent is my kids say, "Can I go with." They leave you out of the sentence. We often here the Canadian accents here. They took him to hospital.
Enjoyed your hub and will share it with my Michigan family.
Paul Richard Kuehn from Udorn City, Thailand on February 18, 2016:
Being originally from southeastern Wisconsin, I greatly enjoyed reading this hub. Although I learned a lot about peculiar Michigan vocabulary and pronunciation, I did find a lot of similarities. For example, in Wisconsin we did say "pop" instead of soda when growing up and we also went up north when we even went from Milwaukee to Marshfield in the central part of the state. "Tuh" for to and "yoosta" for used to was also used a lot. Thanks for a great hub which I am sharing with Hubpage followers.
Peter from England, UK on January 29, 2016:
I would agree with Hezekiah to some extent. However the more research I do in to different American accents, the more I think there are more differences than with those of the UK!
Dayanara on December 31, 2015:
I sound like I come from ARIZONA?! WUT?!
Good Goddess. Offend my little Michiganian heart, why don't you!
Cyber on November 05, 2015:
Agreed. We really do make Meijer plural for some reason. Everyone around here says it as Meijers. I had a friend from Ohio come up (Believe it or not) and she calls it Meijer. When I called it Meijers, she was plain confused.
That was the best weekend ever.
Kat on November 02, 2015:
You dont realize the way you talk until you are trying to read this to somebody the correct way and you can't! Love it
Teresa Ouellette on October 23, 2015:
When I say " these ones or those ones " I'm always corrected but thats how everyone I know in Michigan says it. It sounds weird saying just these or those without the ones on the end
Linda on October 19, 2015:
You betcha I'm from Michigan! ;) This was fun. I didn't realize that I say most of this list but I do! We actually do say "cran" instead of crayon and "Krogers" instead of Kroger. Also we say "grossry" not grocery (most Michiganders I know don't say "groshry" however). Also we say "wha-ever" instead of whatever.
Tina on September 29, 2015:
I LOVE this! My business partner is from Michigan. I had never heard the term "Michagander" until after meeting her. Once in a while I can hear the "abo-ut" come out of her mouth! I speak with people from Michigan just about every day and yes, I can usually pick up the dialect!
bof on September 28, 2015:
and we like to add "s" on things like meijers vs meijer or fords vs ford
mark on August 29, 2015:
you left out the two main words. Is it creeeeeeeeeeeeek or crick? Is it rooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooof or ruuf
Mary Fadie on August 29, 2015:
Funny! Didn't know I was saying some of these things. I've been out of Michigan for 4 years. I have noticed that the glottal stop with the double tt like button "buh in" and "Manha in" is heard everywhere, not just Michigan. I hear mostly youngsters saying it on TV. I recently caught myself saying "acrost" and was wondering where it came from.
glo on August 28, 2015:
I've lived in MI since 1979. What I notice most is the "a" sound, very up front and nasal, and saying pitcher when they mean picture.
Donna Maki Paul on August 28, 2015:
Very nice article so accurate thanks
It makes me wonder how my grandson is doing in Oklahoma in the Army oh boy!!!
Nancy on August 27, 2015:
WHOOOO hooooo shows I'm most like Wichita, Louisville, or Lexington and I am a MICHIGANDER (Michiganian) transplanted to CA!!!!!!! See I don't even know WHERE I am from by the way I TALK!!!!!
NCCaniac42 on August 26, 2015:
I now live in NC. Y'all does fall from my mouth as easily as yuh guys. I was at an event over the weekend and started talking to the woman behind me in line. I immediately asked her what part of Michigan she was from. :-) I was born Yooper - raised Troll. My grandmother, born and raised in the UP, always said things like 'Lets go store' or 'Lets go show' because Finnish was her first language and they don't have the word 'The'. Funny this article was posted today - I was explaining to two Cary, NC Police Officers at a drivers license check stop - where Ferris State was by showing the location on my hand.
JG on August 26, 2015:
There are Yoopers and there are Flatlanders, but those of us who live north of Grand Rapids to the Bridge, prefer calling ourselves Uplanders. We live in the Kettle Moraine area of Michigan, definitely not flat.
GoneBlue on August 25, 2015:
Anyone use 'needs' instead of/as shorthand for 'needs to be?' E.g. 'the car needs washed' or 'the dog needs out' My husband pointed this out to me (he's a no-good bruddah from Illinoise) and his Michigan coworker said it was a Michigan (eastern) thing. I never noticed I did it until he said something.
Rosa Malaga from Indiana, U.S.A. on August 14, 2015:
Very interesting article. I think that much of your article applies to northern Indiana as well, at least in regards to pronunciation. I remember encountering people out West who would ask if I was from Minnesota. I thought that was strange since I had never been there before, but now it makes a bit of sense.
Interesting side. Decades ago I was helping Khmer refugees learn English in California. One day a gentleman asked me what the word "jeetyet" met. I kept having him repeat it and could not figure out what he was saying. After continuing to inquire about the context, I finally realized someone had asked him if he had eaten yet, but to him it sounded like "jeetyet." I laughed and explained that sometimes we say it that way, depending on where you are from. I laughed because the poor guy was trying so hard, even looking in his dictionary. Of course when I moved to Georgia, I don't know how many times I had to ask people what they were saying.