How to Speak 'Scansin

(last updated .05-18-2014) - Why is this page on  this Music site? - Contact Webmaster
All updates since 7-15-2005

Originally created by Sue Delrow & Caryn Cain
[Speak 'Scansin]

Why this page is called "Speak 'Scansin"

The "ah" sound in Wis-cahn-sin, becomes more of a short "a" sound as in cat. When saying the word Wisconsin, one forms the W with one's lips but never fully articulates it. What is heard by the listener is a very soft "Wuh" sound followed by a hard "Scansin." Hence the page name.

In certain European ethnic pockets of Wisconsin, you'll hear some of the following colloquialisms and pronunciations:
Reader Input

How to pronounce English words in 'Scansin.

"Folk Library Index" 'Scansin Reader Input

      This historical page previously appeared at the defunct Cheese State Mall Web site,  and  (last updated there ca. October 1999). It was not installed at their new domain:, and the current owners of that domain didn't know anything about this page. It was too important to be off-line permanently, so I put it back on-line.
      The above page was installed on my domain on 7-15-2005 after being off-line for awhile. Nothing above by the original authors has been edited or changed in any way. [Exception: on 12-29-2009, all submitter's E-Mail addresses were replaced by "anonymous".] This new section is for comments and/or additions received since 7-15-2005. Note: all submissions must be G-Rated for all ages, or they will not be added here. No names or E-Mail addresses of submitters will be included unless I have written permission to do so.
    03-29-2007: When I was a kid in Ashland and Washburn, adults used the word "around" instead of "about." I heard my grandfather ask a grocer for "around a pound uh round steak."
    My paternal grandfather (French background) called potatoes "spuds" or "budaduhs."
    Rhubarb was always called "pie plant."
    09-17-2007: "Pop", meaning "soda"--not used in Milwaukee area. Outside of Milwaukee, perhaps; I heard "soda" in Madison, but "pop" in Steven's Point. "Pop" is used almost exclusively in the Twin Cities.
    My wife grew up in several places far away from here and settled in Minneapolis, but still has some Antigo-isms, courtesy of her parents. For example, I say "milk", but she and her mother say "melk", and "warm" rhymes with "arm" (making it closer to the German pronunciation). Not in my case. Or, "come by me", meaning, "come visit me" or "come sit next to me". This is most likely a German influence, "bei uns" (also in Czech, "u nas").
    "Bubbler" may only be Southeastern WI. The Bubbler is a product made by Kohler, in Kohler, WI, north of Milwaukee.
    I've been called, by a younger friend in the Twin Cities, a "'Sconie", pronounced "skAHnee", obviously a play on how we pronounce Wisconsin.
    Something that could be added, that is perhaps just Milwaukee: we don't have "dental appointments" or "dentist's appointments", we have "a dental"; e.g., "I have my dental Tuesday morning." My sister (who is 32) still lives in Milwaukee and says this.
    04-28-2009: I came across the word "tree" that is often used for "three" and that reminded me so much of my grandfather. It then reminded me of the word "terlit", which he used when referring to the "toilet".
    "Tirty" for "thirty" is another one.
    Possible usage: "Geeez! He musta fallin' da terlit. He's been in der fer tirty tree minutes already hey!"
    06-27-2009: A stoplight in 'Scansin is not a stoplight. It's a stop-and-go light. Seriously.
    07-05-2009: I don't know what degenerate came up with this list, but it is a complete insult to Wisconsin - pronounced with an 'o' for those who can't read. Take that crap down and if you actually live in Wisconsin like I have all my life, you should be ashamed.
Disgusted by that insulting trash
    Webmaster's comment: Growing up in Illinois, I never heard of Sheepshead, a Bubbler, Uff-da, a bottle of Pop, or getting my hairs cut, that is, until I moved here in 1966. Louisiana's Cajun is a mixture of French and English. Some of these localisms are likewise derived from Wisconsin's varied German, Eastern European, and Scandinavian proud heritages, which no one should be ashamed of.
    Regional words and pronunciations are everywhere. When I was in the Army there was a guy named Carter, from Boston. He pronounced his name, Ca'-ta. When people couldn't understand him, he spelled it for them, c-a-ah-t-e-ah.
      This page was created, and is being maintained, to respectfully document the distinct cultural differences in the history of Wisconsin people and is not meant to ridicule or show disrespect to anyone, past or present.
    ** 11-04-2009: [from Sue Delrow] Doug - had to laugh when I found the 'speak 'scansin' page. I was the author, along with Caryn Cain of Oshkosh (at the time) - and see you're from Oshkosh, too!
    We were talking at work about some 'scansin sayings, and on a whim I decided to see if could find the old page in the 'way back machine' - but found your page instead!
    In fact, about 10 or more years ago, I did a radio interview on Thanksgiving morning on WI Public Radio about 'speaking 'scansin' after someone on their staff had found our original page.

[12-08-2009 Webmaster's note: I now have the author's permission for this page to remain on this site until further notice.]

    11-20-2009: That last contributor is too thin-skinned, hey?
    You can't truly be PROUD of something until you can laugh at it. Being able to laugh at yourself means having the self-confidence not to fall apart once someone starts laughing at you.
    Or your accent. Our accent is awesome. It's English that is easy to learn, friendly, and simple.
    Besides, in Wisconsin we have the luxury of being country bumpkins on weekends, and learned intellectuals throughout the rest of the week. Our university system is the greatest one on Earth.
    Name another country based on dairy products and heavy machinery, with only 5,500,000 people, that has produced 16 campuses and the second greatest research center on the planet!
    So I say keep up the good work. Wisconsin English deserves its own web pages, and don't worry about insecure people who are embarassed by something as silly as pop or a bubbler.
    12-17-2009: "Ahh what da eh!" - clean version of "Oh what the hell!" or also means "why not?" Usage: Eh! ya Commin' to da bars to come watch da Packers? Ahh what da eh! Dat dont sound like a bad idea ya know?
    12-29-2009: Removed all names and contact information for all submitters, both for since this page was installed here, and also from the original page [see italics], except for those who have given me specific written permission to use their name.
    05-04-2010: Just got back from my first trip ever to 'Scansin and found it to be very enjoyable. Talk about some nice friendly folks! Anyways, I thought I'd add the ever present "Ya, you bet" and "Ya you betcha" to the terms I heard a lot.
    08-29-2010: Just enjoying your website. I lived in WI from age 10 to 21 when I moved with my husband to Oklahoma and spent the next 25 years laughing at the way they talk! Anyway, I didn't see the word, "ishy", which may be because my parents grew up in Minnesota and it came from there. But my childhood memories are filled with descriptions that include phrases like, "Throw the leftovers out, they look ishy." Thanks for the chuckles.
    01-10-2011: I just read your list of 'Scansin terms and I have one that's not on the list. "Right away" is often added to the end of a request. For example, a Scansinite might ask their server in a restaurant, "Can I please have a glass of water right away?" There is no urgency, and a server in Wisconsin knows that. In the rest of the world the server might think, "A glass of water right away? Are you choking?" or "Right away? Why is your glass of water more urgent than anybody else's request"?
    01-25-2011: The term "to tree": usage "lemme borrow to tree bucks will ya? [short for "two or three"]
    02-14-2011: I'm really getting a kick over your site - - it brings me back to my roots (pronounced "ruhts") - like "hoof").
    05-25-2011: The "Is it?" response seems to be found mostly in areas around Little Chute. I've lived in 'Scansin my entire life, and in this area for three, and I have never heard it used anywhere else. Example: "Ya, we had dem guys all over to da house for da Packer game." Response, "Is it?".     Also, when people around here talk about the Twin Cities, they are referring to Neenah and Menasha.
    08-17-2011: Everyone from my family was born and raised in Wisconsin as far back as you can trace. All of currently reside in Wisconsin also. To be totally honest, I have never heard a single utterance from that website aside from bubbler. I do not know a single person from Wisconsin that says "da", "dem", or "der". Personally I think this website is an insult to Wisconsinites and makes us look extremely ignorant.
      See this "Webmaster's comment"
    10-07-2011: "Flicking the channel" term used instead of "changing the channel" with the remote. Could be a Wisconsin term or strictly Sheboygan, not sure!
    02-25-2012: I just got done laughing my ass off after I came across your "Scansin-speak site! Hi-larious! The best part was at the bottom of the page where I found you were in Oshkosh. Hey der, I was born 'n raised in Oshkosh (on Bowen St. - near Tony's Tap) back in the 50's and 60's, doncha know! Thanks for the gut-buster. I'll send a link to my kid-bro who has lived in CA so long he probably only remembers a couple-few of the old colloquialisms of our younger days.
    01-09-2013: "Or no?"
Used at the end of a question to let the other person know that they can choose yes or no. At times it implies that which ever answer the listener chooses is good with the speaker. - Fox Valley

Ya wanna go by the pig, or no?

Skids = hit the skids aka the breaks or binders
Blinker= turn signal
Buggy = shopping cart
    07-15-2013: Frankly, I have lived in WISCONsin all my life and no one ever uses any of this besides bubbler, we don't use the word pop and we don't use "ah" either. This is the most ignorant thing I have ever read I am genuinely upset with this insulting and incorrect stereotype of Wisconsin.
      See this "Webmaster's comment"
    08-07-2013: I don't know what planet you live on, but most of this I've never heard. Must be a FIB thing.
    08-23-2013: I'm from Wisconsin, and you state that scansin's say pop where the rest of the country refers to it as soda or coke. That is incorrect. Wisconsin residents refer to it as soda, where the rest of the country refers to it as pop or coke.
    09-02-2013: While some of the words and phrases may be new to me, you NAILED it! I love your page and am bookmarking it. I was born in "Muhwaukee" 66 years ago. Although we moved to Florida when I was around 5 our "native language" lived on. My mother said "ainna" until the day she died. We laughed about people not knowing what a bubbler was. I thought some of the things listed were always common everywhere and still use them in everyday life. For me they are normal. I grew up being yelled at in German even though my mother's family had been in Wisconsin since the 1850's and 1860's.

One of my favorite stories was from around 1960 when my mother sent my Florida born stepfather to the store for sausage for lunch. She was referring (OF COURSE!) to sliced lunch meat for sandwiches. He returned with loosely ground raw pork ala Jimmy Dean. Her jaw dropped and she said, "Oh, fer chrissake, what am I supposed to do with that?"

Perhaps some who complained about the page are younger or their families are not as deeply rooted. That wonderful page is both funny and heartwarming.

There is also a German sentence structure twist for many of us who have been around for a while. I never realized it until I learned a bit of "book" German some years back.

In school I was always a very well mannered student....but one of my favorite memories is of standing up for my heritage to my junior high Social Studies teacher... this was again in Florida about 1960. He was one of those cold rigid warmth and strictly business. During the class that day he asked me a yes or no question about the subject matter. I correctly responded... with my usual polite affirmative response. He went ballistic...shouting that it was impolite and disrespectful to respond to him with "Yeah" instead of "Yes". Normally being dressed down would have put me in tears of humiliation.... My eyes nearly popped out as I glared back at him (across the entire room) and blasted back, "I didn't say "Yeah!" I'm from Milwaukee and we say, "JA!" it's a perfectly good word and it means "YES!"! I ALWAYS say, "JA". It's GERMAN!". He stood there stunned for a couple of seconds and went back to the lesson plan.

Thank you so much for your wonderful webpage!

Muhwaukee>Florida>Washington state but.... My heart's in Wisconsin
      Submitted with permission by Dianne Larson Ward ( - [permission received 10-15-2013]

    09-07-2013: Hi. Love the site,

Just wanted to say "Fond du Lac" is not spelled "Fon du Lac". I didn't hear Fondjewlack, but I hear "Fondue LacK." as two words, not three or one. :)

Also, I don't see "crick" for "creek". We are going over by the crick. (the "by" usage for "to" that.)

My gramma (German, Scandinavian/Denmark) always said "pert near".. pert near drive me crazy...

Pier. We say pier. Most places say dock. ??

But I don't say "hose" for house. It's more "howse". "owt" for out and not "oat". Maybe that's a regional area of WI?

General American accent is becoming strong in the Midwest so all the younger generation is becoming more "accent-less", or neutral.

Instead of "eh" or "n' so" I say "okay?" Sometimes okay, sometimes o-keh.

Not familiar with der hey, though.

I had no idea I said "dint" for didn't. Doe-went...sometimes.

Thanks for the webpage. :)

    09-21-2013: 1. Saying "H" "E" "double hockey sticks" instead of saying "hell"

2. I think the more cosmopolitan cities may not used or been aware of all of these colloquialisms. Hence the negative comments that were left. I grew up in a small town in central western Wisconsin (Arcadia), and the old German and Polish farmers used quite a few. And we said pop, bubbler, uffda and quite a few other colloquialisms from your list. In fact, I still find myself saying things like unthaw, which invites raised eyebrows from those who aren't fortunate enough to call themselves Wisconsinites.

    10-11-2013: 1. "Firstoff" replaces the adverb "firstly" it can also begin your food order at a restaurant or bar.
Example " Arrite, firstoff I needa ordera Nachos."

2."Brights" Known by everyone else as "high beams" for a vehicle.
Example: "So turns out I was drivin the whole way back ta da house with my brights on."

God this is fun.

3."So I sez to him" generally followed directly with "I sez" (for dramatic emphasis to build suspense for whoever you are telling your outrageous story to)
Example: "So I hopped ahtta da truck, and see him on the ladder, so I sez to him, I sez 'Hey whatcha hangin yer Christmas lights now for? It's May fer Criminy sakes.'"

Ok I gotta hit the hay. Thanks for the laughs, They are perfect. I'm a Sconnie native and been fluent for 26 years. You are welcome to use those pearls if you'd like to on your website.

    10-13-2013: You should put this in facebook, its good stuff donchknow

Webmaster's reply:
    It's just fine where it is. I've been maintaining my Web pages for 17 years. Thousands of absolutely wonderful sites have come and gone in that time. There is no guarantee Facebook will be aroung long term before it is usurped by the next best "new" thing on the Web. will remain in existence as long as I'm alive (I'm 72 now), so it is safer long term where it is. Feel free to mention it on Facebook or anywhere else of your choosing. This domain is paid up through 2020, so this page is not going anywhere.

    10-14-2013: Two more entries I just thought of

1. instead of trick or treating, we'd say Halloweening

2. Duck duck ray duck instead of duck duck goose (ray could come from the French Rey or king, so a rey duck could be a king duck to account for its greater size?)

    05-04-2014: A few corrections...

    We call it soda or coke....we HATE the word pop. It drives us insane. A Wisconsinite would NEVER use it. The rest of the U.S. does.

    And you'd never catch us saying "Der, hey"... that's a Canadian thing. Upper Minnesota uses it but noone in Wisconsin does. Only when poking fun at Canadians.

    Please make these corrections on your "Speaking "Skansin" page.

    Thank you
See the note below about corrections.

    05-18-2014: I lived in a northern WI milltown in the 1950's and recall just about everything you listed. The 'o' is the giveaway vowel. I have astonished strangers overheard still using the 'o' by saying oh you're from'sconsin (or Mwaukee) and they are tickled pink to hear the tones of home from a stranger. As a career linguist-mimic, I am always happy to slip into the northern WI or Yooper going home. Thanks for your project!

Please note: Additions to this page are welcome anytime. However, Corrections cannot be made to anything unless I receive specific permission from the individual who submitted the original posting. I am not the original creator of any posting on this page, except Webmaster comments #1, #2, #3 and #4.
Permission to include submitter's name and/or E-Mail address:
      No names or E-Mail addresses of submitters will be included unless I have written permission to do so.
Those who have given me this permission since 11-04-2009:
      11-04-2009, 09-02-2013


Webmaster's adds:
    08-24-2013: Wisconsin's "TYME Machines" are known everywhere else as ATM's (Automated or Automatic Teller Machines). See Wikipedia.

Known links to this page: (Home Page - Link Page). Thank You.

Please send additions and/or corrections to Doug Henkle:
P.O. Box 331, Ripon, WI 54971-0331