North Dakota July 14, 2017
8 Phrases That’ll Make You Swear North Dakotans Have Their Own Language
North Dakota is truly one of a kind. We’ve got weird and wacky attractions, unusual festivals, and some personal quirks in what we say and do. One of our most noticeable characteristics that can identify most any North Dakotan from a crowd is the way they speak. Even though these phrases are totally normal to someone who has lived there for a while, they might make an out-of-towner scratch their head and wonder if they’re even speaking the same language.
1. "Going to be a cold one today, I saw a sun dog this morning."
Most other places don't get cold enough to experience the natural phenomenon known as a sun dog, and many out-of-staters might see a picture of one and think it's just camera flare. The truth is that these do happen and when they do, it's likely to be really cold that day.
2. "Uff da!"
Ah yes, our Scandinavian history is showing when we use this phrase. This is one of those phrases that can be a quick identifier of a North Dakotan, and they tend to use it a lot for a lot of different things. By the way, this shop is in
Fort Ransom, North Dakota.
3. "They live in the Bis-Man/Wahp-Breck/Fargo-Moorhead area."
North Dakota has quite a few pairs of cities that straddle rivers. We sort of combine them into single, shortened names and count the whole area as one big city. Bismarck and Mandan into Bis-Man, Wahpeton and Breckenridge (which is on the MN side of the Red) into Wahp-Breck, and of course Fargo and Moorhead (also on the MN side). To the unknowing visitor, they might think we are talking about an entirely different, separate place called Bisman or the like. Nope, it's just two cities side by side.
4. "This puppy chow is delicious!"
No, we aren't eating dog food. Puppy chow just happens to be the name we have given a delicious snack that consists of Chex Mix coated in chocolate, peanut butter, and powdered sugar. Other names for it include muddy buddies or reindeer chow. One thing is for certain: it's the best snack ever.
5. "We had the best barbecue last night."
Most people would think, "I know what that means, it's having an outdoor cookout on a grill serving things like hamburgers and hotdogs." That'd be wrong in North Dakota! A barbecue or barbecue sandwich refers to what others call a Sloppy Joe, or a ground beef in a tomato type sauce on a bun.
6. "I seen it the other day."
To most North Dakotans this is a completely normal sounding phrase but to other places this sounds really weird. "I seen it" is technically incorrect grammar, it should be "I saw it" or "I have seen it." For a North Dakotan, though, it's just the way we talk!
7. "They had the best caramel rolls."
You might get some weird looks if you ask for a caramel roll in an out-of-state restaurant and get frustrated when they give you what is most definitely a cinnamon roll. They don't understand the gooey, delicious, mouthwatering amazingness that is a North Dakota caramel roll. It's completely different from (and superior in every way to) a cinnamon roll.
8. "I'm bringing hotdish to the potluck."
You're bringing a warm-temperature dish to the potluck? No, silly. We mean we're bringing a specific type of casserole, only it isn't casserole. If it has tater tots on top, you're likely looking at hotdish.
What other North Dakota phrases did we miss? Which one do you use most? Share with us!