by Old Uncle Crow
[‘Old Uncle Crow’ is a talented and anglo-american, sagacious, regional writer of salience and insight; and, his is a sharply edged wit — BW]
UK Readers of Old Uncle Crow will enjoy learning that Lakese is a bona fide Minnesota dialect, although now in recession.
HOWEVER, It is a southern Minnesota form; and, its provenance is thus akin to a previous form of American spoken throughout the Minnesota territory & state in the mid-19th century. The first American-speakers to surface here primarily were from New England; and, Lakese preserves successfully the New England ‘quack’ associated in the first days of american radio-broadcasting with the voice of President Calvin Coolidge.
More recent hearers, especially those unfamiliar with the speech of New England, refer to the ‘mean rat-terrier yapping’ of contemporary older indigenes of north-eastern Blue Earth county, ‘like so many mongrels after a treed skunk’.
LAKESE As I grew up hearing and speaking it is, or was, extant on the high ground between Eagle Lake and Madison Lake, Minnesota, east of the provincial city of Mankato and distributed uniformly on the axes of Blue Earth county roads 17 & 27.
LISTENERS To the Mr Garrison Keillor Radio Show will not think they are hearing a variety of Minnesotan at all, upon first hearing Lakese; it is not at all like the more languid & resigned accents of central & northern Minnesota, with their heavier scandinavian influence & fluting vowels. In any case, the sibilant & slower-paced, unemphatic, forms of today’s ‘main-line’ Minnesotan popularised by the Cohn brothers and Mr Keillor, in cinema and radio, are more recent; and hence, historically, they are an a-typical, or ‘new immigration’, Minnesotan. Some have noticed a difference as between optimism and pessimism, when contrasting the older Minnesotan of Lakese with the latter-day and more lutheranised Minnesotans.
This comparison may happen because Lakese is more quickly paced and always it is emphatic.
On top of everything else, the briskly energetic speakers of Lakese sound irritated, “madder’n’Hell!” and “pissed off” — even when they are not, particularly. And, when they do fly into truly angry speech, theirs is the profane rhetoric of an outraged expectation & betrayed optimism.
All of this is because Lakese is an extreme-northern variant of North Greater Iowan, itself originally a New England mode of, specifically, ‘Federal American’.
[I Am introducing now formally the concept of Federal American to denote the American language in its first (NB) and antebellum days of self-conscious separation from English; this last defined herein as the language in the first half of the 19th century, as spoken and written esp in the southern portion of the main island of the British Isles; and, as well, used then by acculturated Scots & Irish. Pre-1861 Federal American in other words, is the foundation of both 20th century (or, ‘media’) American and post-modern (reduced, or ‘GED/ESL’) American — OUC]
THE North Greater Iowan Spoken American group then, and including Lakese, has these characteristics:
1) It is spoken at a more rapid rate than foundational New England Federal American — this fact reflects directly the effect of the speech-styles of early american radio-broadcasting on popular spoken American in the 1920s and 1930s.
2) Lakese is shaped almost entirely by a tight throat and a high-backed tongue.
3) Therefore, what I have called the ‘consonantal dance’ is marked; it compensates for a tendency otherwise to swallow vowels and, so, prevents the glottalisation found for example in Broad, or eastern prairie, Nebraskan American.
4) A surprising benefit of the consonantal dance — of the rapidly firing tongue-tip behind the lower teeth, in the formation and projection of consonants — is that speakers of Lakese sound so much more intelligent than do many other Americans.
5) This effect shows up in the fact that, although speech overall is rapid, yet the Lakese-speaker is always careful of his agglutinations:
Example — except if extremely provoked, God-damned, in Lakese, is always ‘God’ followed by a distinctly separate ‘damned’; the two dees, at end of God and beginning of damned, are distinct, eg.
The real artists among the speakers of an older heyday generation seem to enjoy the physical action of a nimble tongue when pronouncing their anathemas & excoriating our post-modern & increasingly illiterate times. For a pleasing illustrative display of such facility, the interested reader may view the following ‘link’:….
FOR It is so, alas, the Lakese I grew up hearing & speaking as a small boy in the 1950s is now passing with the so-called ‘greatest’, or World War II, american generation. I was born in 1949 and notice that, among late (post-1954) ‘baby-boomers’ in these parts, a kind of pessimistic & always-behind-on -the-child-support-payments, or ‘welfare’, drawl has rapidly superseded the speech of the fathers and mothers; as in these comparatively far-more ignorant-sounding instances:
I…guess…. [w/pronounced & prolonged sibilance — OUC]
aw…shit [the ay is shaped into sometimes a three-part diphthong; and, this connotes disgust — OUC]
fuck, maaan [pronounced fawk — OUC]
fucked…again! [fawked, eg –OUC]
Much of the decline of Lakese, of course, has been occasioned by the centripetal effects of an artificial ‘country-western’ pop music ‘culture’; more fatal one suspects, however, is the fact that post-modern american society is no longer an optimistic society. And, it is axiomatic perhaps, together with their nerve peoples historically almost always have lost their languages.
[Emmett R Smith all rights reserved 24 April 2007]