Local linguist explains the M’waukee accent

Local linguist explains the M’waukee accent

640 480
88Nine Radio Milwaukee
Do you speak like a M'waukeean?

Has anyone ever called you out for having a Milwaukee accent?

Maybe its the way you say your Os, like in “boat,” or maybe it’s your word choice.  Ask for a soda in Chicago, and you might get a blank stare.  Or a seltzer water.  Neither are probably what you were looking for.

But what characterizes the Milwaukee accent?  What’s the definition?

We asked a linguist to find out.


IMG_8281Nate Imig | 88Nine Radio Milwaukee

I spoke with with Garry Davis, chair of the linguistics department at University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee (or, M’waukee perhaps would be more accurate) to get the answers.  He says a native Milwaukee speaker throws out all kinds of dead giveaways, both in vocabulary and pronunciation.

Click the player below to listen.

Davis says the local accent is, of course, tied to German language.  Milwaukeeans use borrowed words in everyday conversation, but we also have developed the ability to pronounce certain letter combinations that don’t come naturally to speakers from other parts of the country.

He breaks it down in the the following web extra.