One of the many great joys of Fargo is that unmistakable Minnesotan dialect. Since the 1996 film, “Minnesotans have been living with the legacy of the dark comedy”, laments Liala Helal of Minnesota Public Radio. Presumably tourists torture locals with requests to speak “Minnie sooowt’n”.
For the television series, the dialect was pulled back a little from the full-blown “darn tootin” days of the film. More pronounced in some Fargo characters than others and at times exaggerated (let’s not spoil the fun by getting too picky here), the dialect is still a defining characteristic of this little part of the American Midwest. Influenced by the Swedish, Norwegian and German settlers to the area in the late 1800s, the speech patterns have been passed down through generations.
Star of the upcoming season, Kirsten Dunst, revealed that many of her family members are from Minnesota, so we have high expectations for her delivery. No pressure Kirsten. For other cast members it was an entirely new experience. British actor Martin Freeman, who plays Lester Nygaard in the first series, stayed in the dialect all day on set in-between takes, so if you’re really committed to playing along at home there is serious potential to drive your loved ones crazy. Freeman also sought help from dialect coach Tony Alcantar who worked with the cast of the first series.
Assuming you don’t have access to a professional coach, we’ve put together this handy guide which translates some Minnesotan gems into our own Aussie vernacular.
Meaning: Expresses sensory overload, relief, surprise, exhaustion or an alternative to a swear word.
Aussie equivalent: Crikey
Meaning: Form of agreement, understanding, acceptance.
Aussie equivalent: No worries
Meaning: Often found at the end of sentences to make sure everyone is on the same page.
Aussie equivalent: YaknowhatImean?
Meaning: Sugary beverage popular the world over.
Aussie equivalent: Soft drink
Meaning: Informal version of yes. As a side note, this is a good entry point to the dialect. Start with “yah”, or even better, “oh yah” and go from there. See here for some excellent examples from the film.
Aussie equivalent: Yeah
Ready for your next tutorial? Check out this useful compilation of some of the key phrases from the first series.
Fargo Season 2 continues Wednesdays 9.30pm on SBS.
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