New book gets to heart of Yooper dialect

Yooper Talk: Dialect as Identity in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

Kathryn A. Remlinger

By Tyler Tichelaar

When I received Yooper Dialect to review, my first thought was, “It’s about time.” After all, we all know there’s a Yooper dialect, but I don’t know that anyone has ever written extensively about it. I had heard years ago that it is a mix of New England, Canadian, Finnish and Italian dialects, but Kathryn Remlinger reveals in this book that it’s far more complicated than that. I have to admit I was skeptical that a book published by Wisconsin University Press and written by someone who works at Grand Valley State University would be able to provide a reliable source of information about the Yooper dialect, but Remlinger was on top of her game throughout this book and with a PhD from Michigan Tech, she is clearly familiar with Yooper speakers.

In fact, Remlinger spent considerable time talking to Yoopers and researching how the dialect has been used in marketing to tourists and as a way to establish a sense of identity for us Yoopers. She interviewed 75 lifelong residents of the U.P. and spent 16 years doing fieldwork to write this book. Trust me, even though it’s only about 200 pages, this is no light, fluffy read. Yooper Dialect is a very serious academic book that may not appeal to the average reader but will be of interest to anyone who is a lover of language or a serious student of linguistics…


To read the full story, please pick up a copy of this months Marquette Monthly at one of our distribution outlets.

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