You wanna know what? Do ya? After years of planning, the world’s first-ever accent contest will take place this fall in America’s Midwest.
This groundbreaking event will be sponsored by the National Association for the Study of American Linguistics (NASAL) and the prestigious Schwa Institute for the Study of Vowel Degeneration (SIftSoVD), both based in Washington, D.C.
Linguist Paul Conrack of NASAL stresses the importance of celebrating regional accents in this way: “No one knows exactly how the Midwestern accent . . . um . . . evolved. It seems to have just sprung up out of a vacuum of other influences. Some people blame the Finns, the Poles and even the Canadians for the flat, nasally sound. But none of that has been verified.”
Others blame the constant inhalation of the pungent odors given off by the wide assortment of questionable food products most Midwesterners consume on an hourly basis.
“Either way, it’s really just like a ‘filler’ accent between the more interesting dialects of the East Coast, the South and of course California,” Conrack said. “So we figured we could try out a contest here in the Heartland, then take it to ‘real’ places if it’s successful.”
The contest, to be held at the Lutefisk Inn in gray, semi-deserted Lansing, MI, will be divided into several categories:
- “A”-Sound Torture (“Bee-yæd”=Bad)
- -G and -LY Dropping (“He’s doin’ real’ good”)
- Special word: Car (Kya:r-r-r-r-r)
- Special word: Fire (Fuh-yer)
Special competitions will rate contestants’ use of Midwestern regionalisms such as “Is that right?” “Good deal!” and “You wanna know what?” Extra points will be awarded for each 50 pounds that a challenger is overweight.
Finalists will compete for the Maude Flanders Gold Cup, the “Roseanne” Silver Cup for Nasal Excellence and the Mike Ditka Bronze Medallion for -ING Slaughter.
Accent chameleon Madonna Ciccone-Ritchie, a native of nearby Bay City, MI, was planning to attend at press time. “Do you wanna know what? I’m real curious to see who wins! Real, real curious,” said the international superstar from her new hometown of London, England. She will be the top judge of the contest, along with her buddy, Indiana native David Letterman, and that possessor of the Michigan accent extraordinaire, Michael Moore of shock-doc fame.
Fowlerville, MI, resident Barb Frajowiczizsky pointed out that she takes the upcoming competition real serious: “I been practicin’ for this by wearin’ a clothespin on my nose for three weeks!” she whined through the still-in-place nasal vise.
Frajowiczizsky added that she is about 132 pounds overweight, but hopes to bring that up to 150 before the competition so she can receive three 50-pound obesity credits. “Corndogs for breakfast, lunch and dinner from now on!” she laughed, taking a long, wet puff on her Misty brand cigarette.
Naturally, local pride plays a big part in the Midwestern Accent Contest and Fair, as the competition has tentatively been dubbed. Folks from as far away as Colorado, Ontario and Ohio will all compete for the Flanders Cup. Michigan has the home-team advantage, although a huge caravan of minivans and trailers is expected.
“Why fly? I never been on a plane,” said Kris Whitetone of Yup, WI. “Ya know what? I never been more than 20 miles from my house, and I’m proud of it!” Whitetone plans to live it up on this big trip to the next state over. “I seen big cities like Lansing on the TV set, and you wanna know what? I’m real, real excited to go to a restaurant,” Whitetone gushed.