Yooper English differs from standard English primarily because of the linguistic background of settlers to the area of Finnish, French Canadian, Cornish, Scandinavian, German, or Native American descent. The Yooper dialect is also influenced by the Finnish language making it similar in character to the so-called "Rayncher" dialect (an eye spelling of "Ranger") spoken in the Mesabi Iron Range in northeast Minnesota. Almost half the Finnish immigrants to the U.S. settled in the Upper Peninsula, some joining Scandinavians who moved on to Minnesota.
Tendency towards intonation that stresses the first syllable of each word, which is an influence of Finnish spoken by many immigrants in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
/w/ sometimes becomes /v/, for example, /ˈkiːvənɔː/ for Keweenaw. This is an example of language transfer, where immigrant languages have affected the variety of English spoken in the area. This feature is especially found among residents born before 1950 and in the western region of the U.P.
Replacement of dental fricatives, /ð/ and /θ/, like in "this" and "thigh", with alveolar stops /d/ and /t/, so then (/ðɛn/) becomes den (/dɛn/), etc.
The word "about" is sometimes pronounced as (a-boat) with a soft a.
Replacing the "-ing" at the end of certain words with "-een" (doing becomes "do-een", happening becomes "happen-een", something becomes "some-theen"), or with the Cornish characteristic of just "-n" as in "cook'n" or "walk'n".
Lexicon and grammar
Use of German/Scandinavian "ja" [jä] as "yeah" or "yes," often spelled "ya."
Ending of sentences in "Eh." Used at end of sentences with the expectation of receiving an affirmative response or as another word for "huh." ("So, you're /jɚ/ goin' out t'nide, eh?"), or to add emphasis to a statement, "That's a pretty dress, eh." "Eh" is often associated with Canadian English. "Heh" ("hey") is used interchangeably and perhaps more often among younger speakers.
Common Finnish words are often used in conversation even if the communicants are not of Finnish descent. For instance, "Mitä," when responding, "What?" "Maitoa" (milk), "kahvia" (coffee), "leipää" (bread), "poika" (boy), "tyttö" (girl), "hyvää päivä" (good day), "hyvästit" (good-bye), "isä" (father), "äiti" (mother).
Words such as "pank" (to make compact, pat down), "chuk" or "chook" (a knit winter cap, from Canadian French "tuque" [tsʏk]), "choppers" (long-sleeved mittens, sometimes with removable finger flaps, often made of deerskin), "swampers" (boots with rubber bottoms and leather uppers), "pasty" (pronounced with a soft a), "bakery" (baked goods), "make wood" (cut or chop wood), "snow scoop" or "yooper scooper" (a metal implement for "moving snow"), "wah" (instead of wow) and altered pronunciations such as "grodge" (garage), "crick" (creek); "root" and "roof" may use the same vowel (/ʊ/ IPA) as "soot" and "hoof" respectively.
Saying "I'm gonna go by your house" to mean "I'm going to come by your house."
In some cases, deletion of "to the" has been observed, e.g., "I'm going store," "We went mall," and "We go Green Bay." This is an influence from Finnish, which doesn't have the articles "a," "an," or "the", and the preposition "to" is replaced by the illative and allative cases, which, being absent from English, are simply deleted (cf. Finnish Menemme Green Bayhin).
The use of "come" rather than "came" when referring to a past event, eg. "It come undone" or "It come clean."
The use of the word "youse" (pronounced the same as the word "use") in a style very similar to the use of "y'all" in the southern USA, both being defined by Merriam-Webster as being pronouns used in addressing two or more persons. In daily usage however "youse" is used almost interchangeably with "you"; where a Southerner would ask "Are y'all going to the game?", a Yooper would typically ask "Are youse guys going to the game"?
^Kalibabky, Mike (1996). Hawdaw Talk rayncher, and Iron range Words of Wisdom. Chisolm, Minnesota: Moonlight Press.
Remlinger, Kathryn A. (2007). "The Intertwined Histories of Identity and Dialect in Michigan's Copper Country". In Hoagland, Alison K.; Nordberg, Erik; Reynolds, Terry (eds.). New Perspectives on Michigan's Copper Country. Hancock, MI: Quincy Mine Hoist Association. pp. 62–84. OCLC166351721.
—— (2006). "What It Means to Be a Yooper: Identity, Language Attitudes and Variation in Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula". In Filppula, Markku; Palander, Marjatta; Klemola, Juhani; Penttilä, Esa (eds.). Topics in Dialectal Variation. Joensuu, Finland: University of Joensuu Press. pp. 125–144. ISBN978-952-458-829-4.
—— (August 2002). "Talking the Talk of the Copper Country". Marquette Monthly (Feature article). pp. 22–25.
Simon, Beth (2005). "Dago, Finlander, Cousin Jack: Ethnicity and Identity on Michigan's Upper Peninsula". In Joseph, Brian D.; Preston, Carol G.; Preston, Dennis Richard (eds.). Language Diversity in Michigan and Ohio: Towards Two State Linguistic Profiles. Ann Arbor, MI: Carvan Books. pp. 129–152. ISBN978-0-88206-110-8.