The Michigan Accent: Know It, Learn It, Love It [Video]
The Michigan Accent was definitely much thicker a generation ago, but it still exists, so you better learn to love it.
Recently, my sister revealed to me that she had kept my Mom's voice on her answering machine. Mom has been dead for 15 years, so it was weird to hear how thick her Michigan accent was. She almost sounded Canadian to me. So I began to wonder, is the Michigan Accent fading away?
The answer is nope. Not even slightly. So learn it and love it, and never pronouce the 'T' in Pontiac.
According to most linguists, the Michigan Accent, which is our own extension of the Upper Midwest accent, is still kicking and has kept its most unique rules.
WanderWisdom.com points out a lot of weird things that we Michiganders do.
The letter "A" - we treat it, well, weirdly. Think about it, say the word "crayon" or "dad", they end up sounding like "crans" and "dee-add".
The long "e" sound - we use this one oddly, as well. Like, sometimes we use it in place of the letter "i" like in "mirror", which we pronounce more like "meer".
Glottal stop - Yup, that's a real thing. It's basically when your voice stops in the middle of a word and then starts back up again. We do this with a LOT of different words (mostly at the end, though.) When we say "Detroit", we leave the "t" off entirely and say "Detroi".
We also encounter the glottal stop when pronouncing words like "kitten" and "button" ("kih'ihn", "buh'ton" or "buh'ohn".)
"Ah" as in "father" - In Michigan, we elongate the heck out of that letter. We don't have moms, we have "maahms", Chicago is "Chic-aah-go", and Wayne Gretzky was the greatest "haahckey" player of all time.
Michigan resident and writer Melanie Shebel put together this handy video guide.
Wanderwisdom.com profiled the Michigan Accent recently, and adds these these rules about some state specifics:
A big part of the Michigan accent is about saving time. We talk really fast here, so in order to do so, we do something similar to what the French call a liaison and elision. This is basically a way to mash up words in order to make pronunciation easier and faster.
The French language has a nice set of rules as to how to use a liaison. Unfortunately, there really are no rules for how we butcher our words in Michigan; it's often just what's most convenient.
We also have such colloquialisms as "yuh guys", "Secretariah State" (instead of "Secretary of State"), "where at?" (we add an extra word to this one, it really could just be "where?", "fyer" (not "fire), and "melk" (which the author states is not a thing in southwest Michigan, but we've definitely heard it elsewhere.)
And you better be careful when saying state place names, because these can be a bit rough: Pontiac (said more like "pah-knee-ack"), Dowagiac ("D'waah-jack"), Livonia ("Live-own-yah"), Houghton ("Ho-un"), and our very own Grand Rapids ("Grranrapids").
And they forgot one I found out about shortly after moving there in the early '80s. Gaylord is pronounced "GAY-lerd", not "GAY-lord".
I never knew that and I grew up in Saginaw, which is pronounced exactly as it looks. Unless you're from there, then you can call it "SagiNASTY" - but only if you're from there.