Alaska September 07, 2017
9 Silly Sayings That Will Only Make Sense If You’re From Alaska
Alaska is so remote and disconnected in many ways from the rest of the U.S., it is not surprising that the state has its own lingo. Some phrases may sound ridiculous to outsiders but are just how we say things in the north. These nine silly sayings are what Alaskans find themselves explaining to tourists all year long. Study up and you’ll be at home in the last frontier in no time.
1. "The lights are out!"
No, the lights are not turned off, they are in the sky! The aurora borealis lights up the winter nights with ribbons of color when conditions are right. Most people will tell their friends and those who live with them if the show is particularly incredible.
2. "The Kings are running!"
In June and July, the salmon start running upstream, heading from the ocean back up the rivers to their birth places. There are five types of Alaska Salmon: Sockeye (Reds), Coho (Silvers), Pinks (Humpys), Dog (Chum), and Chinook (Kings). Any of these can be "running" in any particular river when they decide to rush upstream in huge waves. This is the time to head out of town and fish to your heart's content.
3. "She's in the Lower 48."
The rest of the U.S. lies to the south of Alaska, Hawaii being to the southwest and the rest of the U.S. to the southeast. The 48 contiguous U.S. States are referred to as the "Lower 48" in Alaska, and the states are often lumped together as having a culture of their own.
4. "He's got SAD's..."
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a common occurrence in Alaska where 9.9% of the population is afflicted. This disorder means that otherwise mentally sound individuals get clinically depressed at the same time of year, every year. It can happen in other seasons, but especially in Alaska, it's most common in the winter.
5. "Is your car plugged in?"
Vehicles in interior and northern Alaska, as in other cold places, are often "winterized" by adding a battery blanket and an oil pan heater that have an electrical plug. When it goes way below zero, plugging in the car ensures it will start in the morning.
6. "They took him to the Fourth Floor."
The "Fourth Floor" refers to the mental health ward at the large hospital in Anchorage through the 1990s in Alaska. The phrase has come to mean that someone was admitted to a mental health facility for an involuntary stay.
7. "He's out in the bush."
Going out into the rural areas of the state for work is something many types of professionals are called on to do in Alaska. From wildlife biologists to hunting guides, people have to head "into the bush" for weeks or months at a time to work on something. There are also those who head to the bush for fun and just want to pack raft in the Brooks Range. No matter what you're doing out there, you are probably relishing the solitude to commune with nature, as well as being out of range of phone or internet service.
8. "She's from the village..."
Outside of the urban centers of Alaska, people live in small villages with populations varying from a couple hundred to homesteaders all alone in the wilderness. Small rural communities are collectively referred to as "the village."
9. "It's almost break-up."
Don't worry if your significant other starts talking about break up in April, that's just the season. The river ice "breaks up," and as everything starts to melt, the spring run off fills the rivers with water. Floods can happen and everything can be wet and muddy for a month or two until the summer sun dries the mess up.
Do you have another phrase to add? Tell us about it in the comments below!