Minnesotans to world: Ope! Sneak right by ya’

PHOTO: Bjorn Hanson, Flickr CC caption added

If there’s one thing that’s definitively Minnesotan it’s our dialect. Studied by linguists and fodder for pop culture, the way we talk developed uniquely among our immigrant farmers and laborer ancestors on the cold prairies and forests of our lake-festooned northern land.

Howard Mohr wrote the definitive text, “How To Talk Minnesotan,” which he also produced as a series of documentary shorts for TPT in Minneapolis.

But new entries to the dialect gain attention all the time. Case in point, Ian Redmond from Mix 108 in Duluth posted his observation of “The Sound Minnesotans Make Instead of Saying Excuse Me” earlier this week.

Broadly speaking, the sound is “ope,” or “ohp.” I’d describe it as a mix of “up,” “oops,” “oh” and “hup.” And I’ve said it a thousand times. Minnesotans say this in crowded situations. It’s one part warning and one part apology.

Example: “Ope! Sneak right by ya'” is something you’d say passing through a narrow opening in a crowd. Often uttered on the way to the buffet table or restroom.

“Ope! Get around ya'” might be something said when trying to get out of a crowded theater aisle.”

Most common is probably “Ope! Sorry!”

It’s probably most jarring to non-Minnesotans when used alone. For instance, I immediately recall navigating situations where “ope” was the only sound I made. “Ope!” “Ope!” Almost like honking a car horn. “Ope!”

Redmond isn’t the first to think of this. A Reddit thread emerged last year, and this has no doubt been on the mind of non-Minnesotans who wander through our environs for some time.

Redmond’s amusing¬†YouTube video is below:

Since this was pointed out, I became highly aware of how often I use this form of nonverbal message. Something new for my “Introduction to Communication” class next semester.

Until then, “Ope! Sorry for bumping into your internet.”

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