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2001–An American Odyssey, Part III

Over the last two weeks, I have been including some writings from my experience working in Cedar Rapids and the Midwest in 2001. Due to the positive feedback, I’ll keep sharing. The following passage is from June 2001, with 2008 comments in italics.
Remembering Vocabulary and Pronunciations

I’m discovering that I’m already expanding my list of regularly-used words. Popular local words in Eastern Iowa include:

Gotten—(“I haven’t gotten around to doing that yet.”)

Boughten—(“I would have boughten that item, but I didn’t have enough cash with me.”)

Waasht—(“After I waasht my clothes, I hung them up to dry.”)

BULL-oney—(“Well, that’s about the biggest bunch of BULL-oney I’ve heard yet.”)

Acrosst—(“She lives acrosst the street from me.”)

Amongst—(“The dish detergent is amongst the cleaners in the laundry room.”)

Podonk—(“He lives out there in podonk.” (to the north of here))

Boondocks—(“No, I didn’t grow up IN Chicago; I grew up in the Boondocks.”)

Chicagoland—(“588-2300, serves all of the Chicagoland area.”) (2008: Toronto is to Chicago as GTA is to Chicagoland)

Ba Bye or Ba—(Words to end a conversation.)

Baahnee (My name).

(2008 comment: I still love the Midwestern accent, and I am going to do some things over the next few distributions to try and make it come to life for you.
In the movie St. Elmo’s Fire, there is a scene where Mare Winningham is trying to explain her mother’s behaviour to Rob Lowe, and she says, “Sometimes, there are things she finds to be too horrible to utter so she whispers them. You’ll get used to it.”

Whispering the end of sentences is one of the hallmarks of the Midwestern accent. It is a way of communicating that is supposed to leave the other person with the impression that you are “nice”.

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