If you’re nibbling on slippery Jims or sipping sweet soup, chances are you’re in the Badger State. It’s the language of Wisconsin — explained at last. Also, the famous abolitionist whose name became an exclamation, and how to respond if someone says, “Well, aren’t you the chawed rosin!” Plus, parking garages vs. parking ramps, trouper vs. trooper, my boo, and the possible origin of toodles.
This episode first aired November 2, 2013.
The robin may be the official State Bird of Wisconsin, but a listener from the Badger State shares a limerick about the unofficial state bird: the mosquito.
Parking Garage vs. Parking Ramp
In parts of Wisconsin, parking garages are called parking ramps.
The part of a church known as a foyer, vestibule, or lobby is sometimes called the narthex. This word appears to go back to the ancient Greek term for “fennel,” although beyond that, its etymology is unclear.
What is sweet soup? It’s a Wisconsin specialty, made of cherry or raspberry juice mixed with prunes, raisins, and tapioca, and served either warm or cold.
I’ll be John Brown
The exclamations “I’ll be John Brown!” and “I’ll be John Browned!” have a sticky history, going back to view that the abolitionist John Brown was doing something damnable by arming a slave revolt.
Trouper vs. Trooper
Is the correct expression “He’s a real trouper”, or “He’s a real trooper”? In its original form, the correct word was trouper, and referred to that the mantra of dedicated actors everywhere, “The show must go on!”
In Wisconsin, a slippery Jim is a kind of pickle.
Response “I’m Good”
A former waiter in Underhill, Vermont, is annoyed by restaurant patrons who respond to a server’s query with I’m good rather than No, thank you when asked if they’ve had enough.
Among Sconnies, or Wisconsinites, a synonym for beer belly is Milwaukee goiter.
German Influence on Wisconsin Dialect
In parts of Wisconsin where the dialect is heavily influenced by German, it’s not unusual to hear phrases, like “Let’s go buy some bakery” for “let’s buy some baked goods,” and “from little on up,” meaning “from a young age.”
I don’t want nairn, meaning “I don’t want any,” is a contraction of never a one, and it’s been used for hundreds of years.
“Well, aren’t you the chawed rosin!” is a reference to the chewy sap of a gum tree, considered a sweet treat. It’s used to refer to people who think highly of themselves, and is heard primarily in the South Midlands of the United States.
Captain, May I?
In Wisconsin, the game Mother, May I? goes by the name Captain, May I?
Toodles, meaning “See you later,” may come from toddle, as in to “amble” or “take leave,” or it might simply derive from the sound of an old car horn.
Christmas Fooling, the Norwegian tradition of dressing up and visiting folks around Christmas time, was once popular among young Wisconsinites.
Photo by Joshua Mayer. Used under a Creative Commons license.
Music Used in the Broadcast
|My Boo||Ghost Town Dj’s||My Boo 12″ Single||Columbia|
|Blues for Celia||Greyboy Allstars||A Town Called Earth||Greyboy Records|
|Turnip’s Big Move||Greyboy Allstars||A Town Called Earth||Greyboy Records|
|911 Beat||Timmy Timeless||35th and Adams||Timeless Takeover|
|The Brown’s at Home||Greyboy Allstars||West Coast Boogaloo||Greyboy Records|
|Tight Times||Jimmy McGriff||Electric Funk||Blue Note|
|Blue Juice||Jimmy McGriff||The Worm||Solid State Records|
|Tom vs. Galt||Timmy Timeless||35th and Adams||Timeless Takeover|
|Soul Dream||Greyboy Allstars||West Coast Boogaloo||Greyboy Records|
|Fire Eater||Greyboy Allstars||West Coast Boogaloo||Greyboy Records|
|Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off||Ella Fitzgerald||Ella Fitzgerald Ella Fitzgerald Sings The George and Ira Gershwin Song Book||Verve|