Alaskans have a fairly neutral American accent, so you might not be able to recognize a person from the north by their accent alone. If you know what to look for, these particular phrases are a dead giveaway. You can use this as a translation tool to understand the Alaskans you come in contact with and communication will be smooth sailing.
1. The North Slope
Many an Alaskan works for the big oil companies on "the north slope", or northern slope of the Brooks Range along the coast of the Arctic Ocean. Both the National Petroleum Reserve–Alaska (NPRA) and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) lie within this region.
2. The Lower 48
This refers to the contiguous 48 U.S. states that lie to the southeast of Alaska.
3. Going Outside
Alaska is considered "inside" and everywhere else in the world is considered "outside". Heading outside to travel or visit family usually means you are out of commission from your Alaskan life for a few weeks or months. It can be hard for an Alaskan to deal with the noise, crowds and general hubbub of the rest of world, but it can also be a wonderful escape from the cold and remote conditions.
4. The Bush
The bush refers to the rural areas of Alaska where mountains, rivers and wildlife are the major companions. For work or play, Alaskans may head out into the remote wilderness for days or months before returning to town.
5. Headed to Town
If you live even a few miles outside of one of the larger towns, you may choose to stay out of the populated centers and avoid travel in trecherous winter months. One only heads to town when necessity strikes and a trip to the grocery store, gas station and water supply are in order.
In the rest of the world, breakup is what you go through when you end a relationship. In Alaska, it is the season between winter and summer when the river ice breaks up. It's a boggy, muddy, ugly time, but it is mercifully short and summer is the reward for all the mud.
That's what we call these motorized track vehicles with skis for steering. Snowmachines are essential in winter where there are no roads and replaced dog sleds as teh major form of winter transportation throughout Alaska.
Like rednecks, but with snowmachines, slednecks enjoy gathering in large groups to tear up the powder in the beautful Alaskan mountains for sport and pleasure.
Sourdough pancakes were a staple of Alaskan pioneer life and gave the name for an Alaskan old-timer. A sourdough is a long time resident who has been through many long winters, learned lessons, and lived to tell about it.
A cheechako is the opposite of a sourdough. Usually reserved for newcomers in their first year of being an Alaskan, but if someone pulls a bonehead move they may be called a cheechako no matter how long they've been in the north.
11. Ice Road
This is a road that is only open in the cold of winter on a river. A convenient perk of the months of deep freeze are the shortcuts that open up when you can safely drive on the ice.
Much of Alaska has a frozen layer under the ground that never thaws, keeping roots from sinking deep and houses from finding firm foundation.
13. Companion Fare
Alaska Airlines offers a companion ticket once a year to their card holders so you can fly a friend anywhere for the cost of one ticket and some fees. It makes a trip outside a little more manageable.
Can you think any other phrases that Alaskans use? Tell us about it in the comments below!