Ahhh Fargo. For better or worse, the Coen brothers named their beloved cult classic film after our sprawling Midwestern metropolis, and forever left people wondering if we actually sound like that.
Truth be told, some do.
Others, however, think the thick movie accents overdo it, leaving a bad impression of North Dakotans and Minnesotans.
Regardless what side you’re on, the actors went through months of accent training to prepare for their roles. While we’re no dialect coach, below are 9 phrases that – if said right – will make you a master of the Fargo movie (and thick North Dakotan/Minnesotan) accent.
In these parts, it’s not ro͞of with the long ooooo, it’s ruhf… sort of like the sound a dog makes. This also applies to root. It’s not a ro͞ot vegetable, it’s a ruht vegetable.
A notorious piece of the Fargo accent is its long o’s. To get it right, add half a second to the ‘oa’ of boat and really round your lips. So, it’s not boat. It’s booaat. Get it?
When you come from a state with such a long name, it’s no wonder we shorten it unintentionally.
Like Oregon, where locals say ‘Organ’ instead of ‘Oh-ree-gone’, North Dakotans say ‘NORT-a-koh-tuh’ instead of ‘NortTH Duh-koh-tuh’.
Really hit the ‘ort’ in ‘nort’ and you’ll be cooking with gas.
Not everyone in the region says this the same, but the classic Fargo twist is to say ‘bAYg’ instead of ‘bAHg’. Seriously.
This also applies to tag, flag, lag, and so on.
An interesting addition to the list, you wouldn’t think there’s more than one way to say this.
But, oh how there is.
‘Hey’ is no longer a breathy, casual greeting.
To get it Fargo enough, shape your mouth into a wide smile, with your teeth apart. Now, say “hey”, ending with the back of your tongue near the roof (sorry, ruhf) of your mouth. It sort of feels like saying ‘hai’.
Then, keeping your mouth in the same wide grin and say ‘thair’… almost like it’s two syllables, but not quite.
Now, put it together: Hey, thair.
Here are those long o’s again. Round your lips, let out a long ohhh and you’re halfway there.
Then, instead of the classic ‘yeah’, try ‘yaahhh’ instead. Say it with me: Ohhh yaahhh.
Tag this bad boy onto the end of your newly pronounced “Ohhh yaahhh” and people will think you’re Jerry Lundegaard (aka William H. Macy’s character in the film).
Make sure you maintain your long vowels. Ohhh yahhh, youuu betch-uh.
Did you know?
Who needs three words when two will do the job? Instead of “Did you know”, it’s “Did-jah know”. (Don’t forget your long o’s on know!)
Truck and tree
It’s not just vowels this accent struggles with, it’s also the ‘tr’ sound. To get it just right isn’t hard: simply replace the ‘tr’ with ‘chr’ and you’ve got it.
Truck is now chruck and tree is now chree.
To roll it all together, here is the most Fargo-esque sentence we could drum up for you to practice with:
Hey, there. Did you know a bag from your roof hit a tree and fell on your boat?
(Hai, thair. Didjah knohh a bayg from yer ruhf hit a chree and fell on yer booaat?)