Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Linguistic/cultural stereotyping in the Upper Midwest: Lutran Air

This was passed along by a contributor, who got it from a colleague.

If you are travelin soon, consider Lutran Air, the no-frills airline.

You're all in da same boat on Lutran Air, here flyin is a upliftin experience.

Dair is no first class on any Lutran Air flight.

Meals are potluck. Rows 1 tru 6, bring rolls; 7 tru 15, bring a salad; 16 tru 21, a hot dish, and 22-30, a dessert.

Basses and tenors please sit in da rear of da aircraft.

Everyone is responsible for his or her own baggage.

All fares are by free will offering, and da plane will not land til da budget is met.

Now, Pay attention to your flight attendant, who vill acquaint you wit da safety system aboard dis Lutran Air.

Okay den, listen up; I'm only gonna say dis vonce:
In da event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, I am frankly gonna be real surprised and so vill Captain Olson, because ve fly right around two tousand feet, so loss of cabin pressure would probably mean da Second Coming or someting of dat nature, and I wouldn't bodder with doze liddle masks on da rubber tubes--you're gonna have bigger tings to worry about den dat. Just stuff doze back up in dair liddle holes.
Probably da masks fell out because of turbulence which, to be honest wit you, we're gonna have quite a bit of at two tousand feet, sorta like driving across a plowed field, but after a while you get used to it.

In da event of a water landing, I'd say forget it. Start saying da Lord's Prayer and just hope you get to da part about forgive us our sins as we forgive dose who sin against us, which some people say 'trespass against us,' which isn't right, but what can you do?

Da use of cell phones on da plane is strictly forbidden, not because day may confuse da plane's navigation system, which is by da pants all da way. No, it's because cell phones are a pain in da wazoo, and if God had meant you to use a cell phone, He wudda put your mout on da side of your head.

We start lunch right about noon and it's buffet style wit da coffeepot up front.

Den we'll have da hymn sing; hymnals are in da seat pockets in front of you. Don't take yours wit you when you go or I am gonna be real upset and I am not kiddin!

Right now I'll say Grace:

Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest
and let deze gifts to us be blessed.
Fader, Son, and Holy Ghost,
May we land in Dulut or pretty close.
Garrison Keillor made these kinds of stereotypes famous nationally for the Upper Midwest, Norwegians, Lutherans, and Fargo certainly promoted some pieces of the picture.

But note what social association the particular linguistic features have here. The key feature is the 'stopping' or use of d or t for interdental fricatives (the 'th sounds' in words like this or thing.) Depending on where you are in the Upper Midwest, this feature is taken to be a clear sign of German ethnicity (Mary Rose's Stanford dissertation treats such a case in Wisconsin), a sign of Polish identity (you can hear that view in Milwaukee, or find it performed on Saturday Night Live in the da Bears skits that our Wisconsin Englishes folks like so much.) Here, it's religion, with immigrant identity obviously lurking in the background.

By the way, the v for w thing would be characteristic of various immigrant communities, but seems to have passed out of even folk stereotype for most of Wisconsin, as far as I know.


TootsNYC said...

As a Lutheran of German descent, I have this to say:

Not the strong German sense of order, in this phrase:

"Everyone is responsible for his or her own baggage."

TootsNYC said...

I meant,

NOTE the strong German sense of order.

Anonymous said...

Most English speaking Irish people from the Irish Republic pronounce English th as t. There is no th sound in Gaelic.

Shane said...

anonymous: Not quite. Yes, certain varieties of Irish English pronounce (voiced and voiceless) th as alveolar stops (like Standard English t or d). But most pronounce StE th sounds as dental stops, or something very close. In other words, where StE has a dental fricative vs alveolar stop distinction, most Irish English varieties have a dental fricative versus dental stop distinction. It seems to be true that the dental stop sounds much like an alveolar stop to non-Irish speakers of English. But they're not the same.