Finding America

Me and Tarah

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This week, we’re talking about the Midwest - a place I have lived now for over seven years and a place for which, to this day, I still need Rick Steves as a tour guide. Y’all have a language all of your own. And today - seven years too late - I am going to delve deep into the Indianapolis public library archives… or into a post I found online... and pluck out 8 Midwestern phrases. What I’ll do next will blow your mind. Watch, as I awkwardly guess what they mean. A guide to all of these phrases is listed beneath the video:

What's that you say? You've never heard of the phrases in the above video? Here's what they mean.
  • Tough tomatoes: “tough luck.”
  • Hotdish: a Hotdish is what someone in Minnesota might call a casserole.
  • Schnookered: drunk
  • Pasties: In the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, they are delicious meat pies.
  • Pop: fizzy drink.
  • Bubbler: water fountain.
  • Duck, duck, gray duck: duck, duck, goose in Minnesota.
  • Uff da: a way of expressing sensory overload.

Sometimes, it's better hearing me in a British accent. Subscribe to me on YouTube.

Laurence Brown is a British man writing his way through the truly bizarre world of America - a place he sometimes accidentally calls home and a place he still hasn't quite figured out after seven years. Thankfully, his journey is made 12% easier by the fact that his accent makes him sound much smarter than he is. For evidence of this, subscribe to his popular Lost in the Pond web series over on YouTube.


  1. live in Minnesota, heard of all of them

  2. "Uff da" is a Norwegian expression meaning "oh, no", "how sad" or similar when you want to express dismay or sympathy with something. The expression was probably brought to America by immigrants to the Upper Midwestern states. It's often used in a mildly ironic way in modern Norwegian, and we secretly snigger at the American adoption of it (but we're a tad proud too).

  3. These mostly apply to the upper Midwest, Wisconsin, Minnesota, upper peninsula of Michigan and North Dakota

  4. I think most must be Minnesota, only heard bubbler when I lived in Wisconsin, pop is called soda there.


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