Saturday, January 21, 2006

How to Speak Minnesotan

A Prairie Home Companion from American Public Media: "HOW TO SPEAK MINNESOTAN

Dear Garrison,
I realize that your show's main pull is nostalgia for a Minnesota (or an America) that once was. Ethnic Norwegians, Swedes, and German Catholics living in sheltered communities.

However, the Minnesota of today is largely urban-centered and that Norwegian/Swede cultural domination is slowly giving way to Hmong, Laotians, and Vietnamese, Somalis and Ethiopians, Mexicans and Russian Jews. Perhaps your show could reflect this new Minnesota a bit more.

Douglas, from St. Paul

Douglas, the Somalis and Ethiopians who listen to the show regularly like it just the way it is. They feel that it teaches them something about American English and the midwestern culture in which they find themselves. It was strange to them when they arrived, and the show makes it less so. You are naive about culture, my friend, if you think that we can put it on and take it off as one might put on a serape or put some African carvings up on the mantle. We are who we are. Foreigners realize that. When they come to the midwest, they find a very distinct culture. It doesn't reflect them particularly and they have to accommodate to it, just as you would need to make peace with the French if you lived in France. "

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