Eastern Montana Accents
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Posted by MilesCity.com Webmaster (+10001) 11 years ago
I started this to not highjack the other thread.

Several months ago we were out looking at properties with our Real Estate Agent. Of course, the house was on a very steep hill (what isn't around here). I said something like, "That's quite the borough borrow pit, I don't think I'd want to take that on in winter."

The Real Estate Agent looked at me with a perplexed look as if I had just stated something crazy. Then my significant other jumped in and said, "Oh, that's the way they speak in Montana. He meant the ditch by the road."
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Posted by David Schott (+17062) 11 years ago
It's actually "borrow pit"... the ditch alongside the road from which soil was borrowed to build up the road bed.
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Posted by David Schott (+17062) 11 years ago
Oh, and, it ("borrow pit") does seem to be a Montana thing but it's probably not.
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Posted by MilesCity.com Webmaster (+10001) 11 years ago
Yeah, I was about to correct my spelling. Illustrated above.
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Posted by Christen LeBlanc Ramsey (+272) 11 years ago
here in oregon, people have commented on my 'accent' as well. there are three other people from miles city in the program i'm in at school and one of our peers said 'wow, you sound just like so-and-so (lady from miles city)...' i had never thought i had an accent before, but the people say it is so.
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Posted by David Schott (+17062) 11 years ago
When I go back to Montana it's not the accent I hear that tells me I'm in Montana. It's the abundance of pickup trucks, Wrangler jeans, really worn looking cowboy boots, and baseball caps that feature farm/ranch logos rather than sports logos.
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Posted by Levi Forman (+3712) 11 years ago
I was at Cabela's in Kansas City, MO once and the checkout lady looked at my ID and said "You're a long ways from home". I told her "yeah I'm headed to the airport" and the next checker down asked where I was from. I told her California and she said "But you have a northern accent, I thought you were from North Dakota". I had no idea I had any kind of accent and no one in CA had ever mentioned it but that lady had me after just hearing a couple sentences and I had been out of MT for 10+ years at that point. I don't think she would have said North Dakota if it was a cowboy drawl she was hearing so she must have been getting a hint of the "ya you betcha" Minnesota accent or something. Either way she blew my mind.
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Posted by David Schott (+17062) 11 years ago
Maybe it's the heavy use of "yeah" rather than "yes" that gets us.
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Posted by MilesCity.com Webmaster (+10001) 11 years ago
Yeap. Whoops.
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Posted by poisonspaghetti (+281) 11 years ago
I was raised in Miles City. I went to college in the midwest and was told I had a terrible drawl. This from a bunch of people from Wiscaaaaanson.
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Posted by howdy (+4944) 11 years ago
They say "borrow pit" in Colorado as well...
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Posted by Erin Feathers (+23) 11 years ago
We've just moved here from Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and I've been asked if I'm from Canada, and I,my self, find it difficult to distinguish an ontario canada accent from a yooper accent.
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Posted by MilesCity.com Webmaster (+10001) 11 years ago
Okay, I'll give you a little story here. Back in the 1980's there was a guy from Ireland visiting the Log Creek Ranch. The guy was a man of the clergy. (And if you know Ireland at all, you'll know the largest county is named "Antrim").

In any case, the standard stuff occurs in the living room ... "Ah, you know the weather doesn't look that good" ... (long awkward pause, followed by) ... "Yeap" ... Another long awkward pause. "So, you think this season is going to be better?" ... (long awkward pause, followed by) ... "Yeap".

I had to sit through that. The funny part is during this extremely boring "yeap" conversation, an old fellow pulls out a cigarette and proceeds to light it with something blowing about 6" of flame out the top ... everyone witnesses the fact ... and perhaps 30 seconds pass in silence ... then another old fellow goes, amazingly the one who was a man of the cloth, "Well that was a hell of a damn flame you had there."

That's the funny part. The lighter was a cigar lighter, which was explained later. It's one of those things, you probably had to have been there.
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Posted by Cindy Stalcup (+586) 11 years ago
I'm from southwestern Montana & that's a barrow pit, barrow ditch or just a bar pit. Barrow as in heap of dirt- like for your wheelbarrow.
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Posted by Amorette Allison (+11757) 11 years ago
I was taking a German class long ago and the professor was discussing regional accents. (He told me I sounded like an insane native speaker, because my accent was perfect but the words were wrong.) A girl in the class then said, in her Chicago broad 'a' voice, "I noticed when I came to Montana everyone had an aaacent." We fell over laughing.

Everyone has an accent. We just don't hear our own.
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Posted by Tracy P. (+98) 11 years ago
When I lived in Arizona people never said I had an accent, but the words I used to name things was different than what they used. For example I would say grocery bag, and they would say grocery sack. My coworkers laughed at me about this. What is so wrong with this?
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Posted by David Schott (+17062) 11 years ago
Sorry, Cindy, Webster's disagrees:

http://www.merriam-webste...borrow+pit
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Posted by Gunnar Emilsson (+17335) 11 years ago
When I moved from Montana to southeastern Pennsylvania in 1986 to start my first post-college professional job, my co-workers commented on my Montana "accent". Since I did not believe I had an accent at the time, I asked those who told me so, "What constituted a Montana accent?"

They were stumped for specifics. Meanwhile, I regaled them with specifics on the Philly accent, which anyone whoever watched "Rocky" is well familiar with.

The first person whoever hit the nail on the head was my wife, who, at the time, was a co-worker (she is now my wonderful bride of 19+ years).

She was at a party, and was sitting with me on her right, and a co-worker from Boston on her left. She said that carrying on a conversation with the two of us at the same time was like a rupture in the space-time continuum.....the Bostonite spoke so fast, and I, with my "Montana Accent", spoke much much slower.

Slow, what constitutes an eastern Montana accent, in my opinion, is slow speaking. Just like how everyone drives around town at 20 mph!

That said, there is a distinctive North Dakota accent, that most Miles City people don't have, but North Dakotan transplants (the Waltersons come to mind) have. I believe it is because of their relatively undiluted strain of German-Russian heritage. I suspect it will be gone in another generation.
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Posted by Cindy Stalcup (+586) 11 years ago
Dueling Dictionaries-
http://dictionary.referen...barrow+pit

barrow pit
-nounWestern U.S.
a roadside borrow pit dug for drainage purposes.
Also called bar pit, bar ditch.

Origin:
appar. in reference to the mound of earth dug from the pit (see barrow2); vars. with bar perh. from regional pron. of barrow

bar·row2
-noun
1.Archaeology. tumulus (def. 1).
2.Chiefly British. a hill......
Origin:
bef. 900; ME berw, beruh, bargh, berg(h), OE beorg hill, mound;...

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, c Random House, Inc. 2010.
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Posted by Bill Zook (+497) 11 years ago
For-what-it's-worth: accents across MT will vary depending upon the settlers that predominiated in that particular area. Eastern MT was earliest widely settled by cowboys from the TX area and thus we incorporate a hint of a drawl in our spoken words. Add to that certain words that have become common usage (e.g. ND's "ya betcha") and you have identifiable uniqueness of even MT's variations spoken word. I'm sure some of you remember Otto Neuhardt's vocalizations which reflected a German ancestry and German spoken in his childhood home.
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Posted by Kacey (+3159) 11 years ago
My father was from just across the North Dakota border in Rhame. He was 100% Swedish and his parents spoke Swedish. So his accent was different than my grandparents on my mother's side who were pure German. I think that our "accents" are a result of what family members we grew up around. And yes, we do tend to speak a bit slower. At least most of us. And having lived in many, many different states across the U.S. I have learned that there are very different words for the same thing based on where you are living. I remember living in Northern California and having a friend from North Carolina over for a visit. I asked her if she'd like a pop. She got the oddest expression on her face! I finally got it out of the fridge and then she said yes, she'd have a soda.

I enjoy the accents. Perhaps it's because I studied Spanish (thank you Mr. Fretland and Ms. Tooke)and French and Latin that I take on the regional accents wherever I am at the time! After spending two weeks in Texas I came back to Montana with the deepest southern drawl!

Faith and Begorrah! I bet a few of you will have the Irish in you this weekend!!
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Posted by Richard Bonine, Jr (+14950) 11 years ago
Long live the Irish!
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Posted by Dan Mowry (+1438) 11 years ago
I'm not sure about what makes for any of these accents? Now, some of the vocabulary and word usage I can see. However, the accents themselves escape me.

When I lived in Oregon I heard no accents. Everyone sounded like I was accustomed to. Same for Iowa. California, though, I could pick up on several slowwwww, lofty, varying inflections.

When I first moved to Iowa I met a lady from the South. She was tawkin'bout dem guysin' glowbs - dos guysin' glowbs fo yo yahhhhhd.

Evidently those mirrored gazing globes for one's yard are the pink flamingos around here. I must have sounded severely difficult to understand for her, too.

Still, other than choices of words or colloquialisms I don't know what the average MT accent sounds like unless it's really heavy with twang and drawl... but I don't recall many in-town Miles Citians like that - mostly ranchers, farmers, and more often with older folks.
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Posted by Cory Cutting (+1272) 11 years ago
I don't think I have an accent.... However, I do find myself with some North Dakota (Fargo movie type) accent when I say North Dakota. Its there every time I say it, and I notice it right away. That's when people usually tell me they hear an accent. I have never been known to use "Yeah, sure, you betcha" in a sentence though.
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Posted by Matt - Schmitz (+167) 11 years ago
A few years ago, a friend and I were in the Ozarks in southern Missouri. We stopped to gas up, and I went in to the convenience store to use the restroom and pay for the gas. As I was paying for the gas, the store employee went into rant about something. After her 10 minute rant, I still had no idea what she was talking about. I just stood there, nodding my head in agreement. That accent was completely foreign to me, and most of her rant didn't even sound like actual words.
How is it that the strong southern accent that we first came across around Nashville makes the guys sound like uneducated hicks, but everything the southern girl says sounds like a marriage proposal? That southern accent is so sexy on women, but when the southern guys start to talk my ears want to bleed. (Not intended to be a sexist commentary on the south! It was just an observation)
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Posted by David Schott (+17062) 11 years ago
Do you say "wash" or "warsh"? Some folks I know from Montana seem to think I live in "Warshington".

How about "Pert' near"?
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Posted by Barb Holcomb (+406) 11 years ago
When I was in college one of my professors asked where I was from because I didn't use the whole "ing" in the ending of words. He said I used leavin rather than leaving, go-in, instead of going, etc. I even took speech in high school and never had a comment about it. I don't know if that's common to others in eastern MT; it could just be me

Since I've moved around so much as an adult, I'm not sure what accent I have, although I do hear myself using the Texas y'all - with the plural being all y'all
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Posted by Kacey (+3159) 11 years ago
Anyone know where the "yello" when answering the phone comes from? I know several Miles Citians who say that. Irritates me to no end.
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Posted by Chris Gamrath (+385) 11 years ago
I know for a fact that "warsh" transends more then just Montana as my wife who was a Kansas native, still puts all the laundry into the Warshmachine. Then again, the Kansans say things like "you need to "burry" bury that, and "Deader then a "doorknob" nail.

Probably the most common Montana word that I get accused of having an accent for, is the word, bag. Most commonly pronounced "beg" around Miles City and surrounding areas instead of bag, tag, rag, etc etc.

My father also blessed me with the word "battree" instead of battery. Not sure if THAT is a Montana thing or just a good ol' country kid kind of a thing. All I know is it got me into a big arguement with my now Colorado family about Montana's don't have an accent. I lost when I caught myself saying out loud "maybe the battree's need changed" DOH!!!! hahaha
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Posted by Jeremy Orthman (+434) 11 years ago
Interesting topic as this happens to me all the time. I think my name is pretty seasy to say. Yet, every time I say my name to someone in person or over the phone they mispell and misprounce it back.
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Posted by Stone (+1596) 11 years ago
Interesting, my father-in-law is from North Dakota and he says yello instead of hello and he says Warshington. It cracks me up.

For you fellow country folk, how about over yonder?

I read a linguistics paper that traced the Cowboy drawl from Montana to Texas and then on to Tennessee. The Texans came to MT on the Cattle drives and settled and the Tennessee volunteers came to Texas to fight for its independence- thus bringing the drawl to MT.
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Posted by MilesCity.com Webmaster (+10001) 11 years ago
I don't even know all my Eastern Montana accents. You would have to talk to my significant other, who consistently reminds me I'm a dumbass for saying or pronouncing certain things to which she does not approve.

As I mentioned in the other thread, even though I'm mostly of British ancestry, I think at least my whole Eastern Montana accent comes from a combination of Native American and the West Dakota thing (North Dakota, Minnesota, etc.)

She has more of an accent than me. She'll throw out a "yeah, sure you betcha" -- without even realizing it. She's from Poulsbo though, which kind of explains that.
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Posted by Cindy Stalcup (+586) 11 years ago
Check this out. It is the Harvard Computer Society Dialect Survey. It shows results by state.
http://www4.uwm.edu/FLL/l.../maps.html
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Posted by MilesCity.com Webmaster (+10001) 11 years ago
This is beyond accent, it's more like local dialect. I should have given a better title to this thread.

Me vs. her ... "dog pile" vs. "pig pile" ... I had never heard of "pig pile" before ... and she had never heard of "dog pile" before. We got in quite an argument over the correct term.
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Posted by MilesCity.com Webmaster (+10001) 11 years ago
Cindy, you posted just barely before me in regards to the dialect vs. accent reference. Like I said, I should have named this thread better.
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Posted by Jim Baldwin (+14) 11 years ago
My Great Grandpa was from Ekalaka, his name was William Nims and in reading his hand written journals from 1910 he writes about going down to the "Crick" which is a term we use here in Big Timber and he also talks a lot about "Holding Council" which I took as a specific eastern Montana term. We all know what that means and also he mentions "Holding Council" a lot each day and his friend "Scrubby" who was one of the Dague Boys having a much too full "Medicine Bag"! Eastern Montana is a great place for accents and memories!!!
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Posted by Cindy Stalcup (+586) 11 years ago
Stone,
Interesting about the Tennessee to Texas drawl transfer. Does that explain why the "average" Montana voter is a Jacksonian Democrat?
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Posted by Levi Forman (+3712) 11 years ago
One that I have noticed since I returned from California is that people around here say "mmm-bye" on the telephone. I always knew my Mom did this but I have noticed a lot of other folks around here do it as well since I got back.
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Posted by Stone (+1596) 11 years ago
Cindy, sounds correct.
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Posted by MjB (+76) 11 years ago
I moved from CA to Montana 22 years ago...I was stumped the first time someone said "Jockey Box"...had to be explained to me...we called it a glove compartment. I asked them if they could fit gloves in their "Jockey Box" and they said yes...but when I asked how many Jockeys they could fit...well, they just looked at me Next was asking what kind of outfit I had...thought they meant my clothes!
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Posted by Ashley Earley (+373) 11 years ago
My accent is "reservation" accent. I grew up in Wolf Point, Montana and when I left there to move to Billings people always wanted to know where I got my low, drawn out, muttering accent. It really made everyone laugh when I used words like idgit, enit, grah, ahey and the list goes on or when I would replace my "u" sounds with "o" (hockey puck is said hockey pock).

but now I sound funny to people in Wolf Point. Just can't win!
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Posted by Wendy Wilson (+6165) 11 years ago
Can't believe no one has mentioned the creek-crick and roof-ruff controversy.
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Posted by Jim Birkholz (+187) 11 years ago
While MCer's might have a tinge of Texan drawl, you'd never know it if you put one in Texas. I live in the Dallas area and I think the locals are outnumbered, but there are plenty left to draw comparisons with.

One day, while being trained to work in a semiconductor clean room, my native-born instructor was saying something about a "lift" and a "rat". Then I realized she was talking about "left and right" booties.

We've tried to resist most assimilation, but I've adopted the "soda" side of the "Soda/Pop" argument. I justify it by noting that most Texans call it "Coke", regardless. E.g.: "Would you like a drink with that?" "Yeah, give me a coke". "What kind?" "7-up"

I think we've successfully resisted using "y'll" for "you guys", and "fixing to" for "getting ready to", mostly cuz we aren't around many natives currently or else we've fought the fight long enough to make it resistant.

A distinctly regional difference is the grocery "buggy" vs. "cart".

Another term that still throws me is when they advertise "bedroom suits" (spelled "suites") on the radio, referring to bedroom furniture sets.

Drifting away from accents and vocabulary, southern restaurants assume you prefer mustard over ketchup and their idea of cooked veggies is to boil all flavor out of them.
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Posted by Dan Mowry (+1438) 11 years ago
Another problem with accents:

http://www.snopes.com/pho...ioncut.asp

(Yes, it's probably not accurate, but I think it's a funny story)
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Posted by David Schott (+17062) 11 years ago
I worked with a guy from Dallas for a while and when we were out and needed to get cash I'd refer to the automated teller machine as the "ATM". He thought that was strange. I don't recall what he called them... possibly "the money machine" or he might have referred to them by a brand name like "the EMPAC machine".

Suite as suit makes me think:

Bouquet: Do you say "boo kay" or "bow kay"?
Buffet: Do you say "boo fay" or "buff fay"?
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Posted by Dan Mowry (+1438) 11 years ago
Bow Kay and Buff Fay.

What regional twists does that reveal about me?
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Posted by David Schott (+17062) 11 years ago
That's how I learned to pronounce those words as well, Dan.
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Posted by Wendy Wilson (+6165) 11 years ago
I lived in New Orleans for a while and loved the regional accent. It's not the typical southern drawl. I knew several people from other places in the South and they did not sound at all like NOLA natives. I still say "hey" instead of "hi" but I've lost the "y'all" and "makin' groceries".
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Posted by Shayleigh Cee (+59) 11 years ago
It's funny to read everyone's stories about 'accents'. I've gone to Florida a couple of times and have gotten told alot down there that I talk to fast and they can't understand my "accent"... I've never thought I spoke fast.. well I still don't hmmm. Has anyone else ever gotten that?
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Posted by Dan Mowry (+1438) 11 years ago
Shaylee, I haven't been told I speak too fast but I have run into Southerners from time to time that make me want to smack their head just to give the needle a shove.

I could leave the conversation, go make a sandwich, come back, and they'd still be slowly finishing the sentence they started ten... me-uh-nuts... agowwww...
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Posted by Levi Forman (+3712) 11 years ago
A girl I dated in California used to make fun of me when I said I was going to "gas up" the car. Apparently they don't say that everywhere. She also thought it was funny when I said 'yup' because it always came out aaayup or something like that. I never really figured out if that was a Montana thing or if it's just something that I do.
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Posted by Gail Finch Shipek (+94) 11 years ago
How do you say coyote? ky ote or ky otie

My mom would say "mmmhello". Wonder if that is Miles City or Chicago? Similar to Levi's "mmmbye".

[This message has been edited by Gail Finch Shipek (3/17/2010)]
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Posted by Gunnar Emilsson (+17335) 11 years ago
I worked with a guy from Dallas for a while and when we were out and needed to get cash I'd refer to the automated teller machine as the "ATM". He thought that was strange. I don't recall what he called them... possibly "the money machine" or he might have referred to them by a brand name like "the EMPAC machine".


When I lived in southeastern Pennsylvania from 1986-1989, ATMs were refered to "MAC Machines" or simply "the Mac." As in, "I gotta stop by the mac to get some cash."

MAC stands for money access center, and it was the most prevalent type of ATM out there at the time.
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