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Colloquialism assistance
Not a native to the upper Midwest, I wonder whence these cometh?
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Hi Martha and Grant,

I’m a fairly regular listener to AWWW and thoroughly enjoy the persistent persiflage :-)

I am native to New England, but happily transplanted to the upper Midwest – having lived in the state of Wisconsin since 1988.   Some colloquialisms in Wisconsin that my blue-blooded take on appropriate language do not allow me to forgive include:

  1. The indiscriminate, arbitrary placement of these words/phrases in conversation:
  • “…..and that” – Example:   “We went to Walmart to buy a new grill, and that…”
  • “…yet” – Example:   “The Packers are having a great season yet” (followed by nothing! – just ending the phrase with the word, “yet”)

        2.   When describing the movement of something from one side to another, the verbal pronunciation of the word “across” is, in spoken language, pronounced, “acrossed.”   Here’s a fairly frequent example:   Television or radio broadcasts of weather reports will be spoken by the meteorologist like this:   “We expect this cold front to travel acrossed the mid-section of the state….”

To quell my colloquialism concerns, I welcome your wisdom as to the origins of any of these   :-)


Michael Maguire

Madison, WI

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While not a definitive answer, I can make a good guess at #2.

Think of a different spelling of the sound: acrosst. Then consider the following words and word pairs:
among / amongst
amid / amidst
mid / midst
while / whilst

It turns out that all of these date from long, long ago (12c to 14c), where the -s comes from an adverbial genitive, and the -t as an ornamental addition standardized between 14c and 16c.

Note that against LOST its original non-s non-t form for all intents and purposes.

You still find acrosst in some dialects.

Online Etymology Dictionary

whilst (adv.) Look up whilst at Dictionary.com
late 14c., from while (q.v.) with adverbial genitive -s-, and excrescent -t- (as in amongst, amidst).


against (adv.) Look up against at Dictionary.com
early 12c., agenes “in opposition to,” a southern variant of agen “again” (see again), with adverbial genitive. The parasitic -t turned up mid-14c. and was standard by early 16c., perhaps from influence of superlatives.


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I’d like to think the fact that question 1 above was raised by mcmaguire5 and not answered by Glenn is a sign of my good understanding of the language: the usages in question ring no bells whatsoever for me. A wild guess though: the ‘yet’ probably means ‘so far, but wait till the season is over.’

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Since no one else has so far tried to shed any light on the phrase “and that”, I can tell you that in the Pittsburgh PA area it is such a common phrase that it has even become a contraction  which is frequently seen written “n’at”.   It is used to mean “and other things relative to the subject at hand”, and is roughly equal to “et cetera”.   Thus the following Burgh-ism could be heard in almost any local neighborhood: “We went to GianIggle to  get some bread an’ jumbo, n’at.”   translation “We went to the Giant Eagle grocery store to buy bread, bologna, and other sandwich fixings.”   I have no knowledge of how widely spread  it’s usage may be, but Pittsburgh has certainly embraced it.

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Good info.

If I were forced to venture a guess, I would first pursue a connection to and all that. . And all that seems to be used widely in the same way. The shorter may in fact come from the longer. C.f. And all that jazz; and that kind of thing; and all that kind of stuff.

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Smort accurately describes the Pittsburghism n’at. I’ve lived in both Pittsburgh and Wisconsin and have to say I haven’t noticed n’at in WI. Or the yet thing but I’m probably not paying attention. But Pittsburgh has another local abomina…. er, colloquialism and that’s n’em. “And them.” As in “we went dahntahn to get some chipchop and an arn with Bob and Ellen n’em.” Translation: We went downtown to get some chipped chopped ham and an Iron City (beer) with Bob and Ellen and any likely combination of people that would accompany ‘we’ and Bob and Ellen on such a journey. “. (Names have not been changed to protect the guilty.)

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I was not really relating to all this until stevenz brought up ” n’em. ”   This is straight from Texas country folk. (Probably all through the south.)   A sample conversation would be:  

How’s your mom n’em?  

They all good.  

Tell em hey.

Strange things come out of country folk that you overlook if you hear it enough.

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Sometimes you have to go away for a long time, and come back.

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mcmaguire5 said: Example:   “The Packers are having a great season yet” (followed by nothing! – just ending the phrase with the word, “yet”)

Yeah, I heard that alot back in Wisconsin where I grew up. More common, at least in my area of upper Wisconsin lakeside, was: “The Packers are having a great season … enso?” I used that for years before really thinking about it. I’m pretty sure the “enso?” is a contraction of “and so?” which itself is a contraction of “and isn’t that so?” It’s always spoken with an upward inflection, implying a question is being asked, but it was often used rhetorically.


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