tion I can provide the following thoughts, ideas and conclusions. Minnesota education has consistently been rated quite high for years-the state prides itself on that. My question then was how did the schools around the state and their implementation of the basic skills compare? No matter what public school one looks at its core curriculum has compared to another. All schools teach math and science, phy ed and health, English and language arts, etc. How they went about this did differ by district, just like each educator has her or his own teaching style, the skills were the same. For example, when I was in high school in St.
Cloud, Minnesota, the courses I took were the same courses my cousin in Chisholm took. Interesting. . .
we have quite different dialects. Was one of our education’s a failure? Of course not. He learned the same things I learned and English was no exception. Education would not change either one of our differing dialects.
As soon as school was out he again would be saturated with Range dialect and speech pattern. His dialect is regional and its development began long before his schooling did. This certainly implies something, which I will get to. But first I want to clarify the following. Throughout Minnesota education and curriculum has always been similar, now more so than ever thanks to Minnesota Graduation Standards.
“In 1993, the Minnesota Legislature passed a law requiring the State Board and the former Department of Education (now CFL) to develop a graduation rule based of results” (http://cfl.state.mn.us/grad/WebGSFeb.htm). The standards define what it takes to know or do something very well. They are clearly defined specific expectations against which individual performance and progress can be judged. For our interest, the standards of Read, View and Listen, obtained at (http://cfl.state.mn.us/grad/rule3501.htm) are as follows. The students must be able to demonstrate the ability to comprehend and evaluate complex information by reading, listening and viewing varied English language selections. The students must demonstrate the ability to use information from technical reading, listening and viewing selections.
The students must demonstrate the ability to write for academic purposes in conventions of standard written English. The students must be able to write in English language for a variety of technical purposes. The students must possess the ability to construct and deliver public speeches using English language conventions, and the students shall demonstrate understanding of interpersonal communication strategies. These are the standards related to English.
They all have been or are in the implementation process now. Looking at them one can see they really will do nothing for Range students in a “proper” dialect sense. Even if applicable information will be taught (which by the looks of it will not-pertaining to dialect and speech patterns) the Range dialect will not change. The education argument holds no ground. I assumed it did, but my research has proven otherwise.
We cannot teach or influence a change in something that is embedded in culture and developed prior to education. So what then, if anything, can be done? I have mentioned that the Range dialect begins developing prior to any formal education. This is indisputable. We have learned in class that language acquisition begins at a very young age. There has been exhaustive work done on this subject. It should be obvious and thus I will not dwell on it.
Simply put, children pick things up as they age. Children on the Range will hear their parents and siblings speech (to name a few). They will mimic these speech patterns and will have learned numerous words and utterances much before they begin schooling. “Acquisition requires interaction with speakers of the language being acquired” (Finegan, 448).
Even the acquisition is indirect and hard to influence correctly-in a teaching sense. Finegan claims in our class text that “conscious attempts to teach correct linguistic forms to children lead nowhere, because children simply ignore instruction and go on acquiring a native tongue at their own pace” (448). There the facts are again; it is not an issue of education. The final issue pertaining to the Iron Range unique dialect is a regional/cultural one. Again a simple, hard to debate idea which encompasses all my previous points. The Range dialect developed through a rich history.
People that use its unique speech patterns are immersed in Range culture and living in its geographic region. (People who demonstrate the dialect outside the region are most likely to be from the area. Upon removal, they will eventually begin to lose the unique dialect distinctiveness). Children are going to develop patterns early on and the dialect filtration will continue. No amounts of education will change this. One can always be taught what is correct-though this too is unlikely based upon the Graduation Standards to be fully implemented-but the information will not likely take precedence over the information acquired elsewhere in the lifestyle and culture of the region.
The fact is that the Range dialect is unique to the Range. As long as an individual is within the region and immersed in its culture he or she will demonstrate the dialect. (There are always a few exceptions, but the majority here will be overwhelming). I am a true Minnesotan yet I do not demonstrate the Range unique dialect. Never having lived there and avoiding all avoidable visits to the area, why would I demonstrate the dialect? If anything my personal dialect would be and may be alike to those from Stearns County Minnesota. Though now, having been removed for 5 years and living in the Twin cities, I probably resemble the speech patterns of other Twin Cities non-minority residents.
The point being is that people sound alike to those they are related to via culture and region. To distance oneself from the Range dialect the speaker would have to leave the area for a time; relevant probably to the amount of time spent living on the Iron Range. Cultural influence prevails. Cultural remove is not a good solution, but to loose the dialect it may be the only solution. I am not so annoyed anymore.
I had thought education was failing my Range neighbors of Minnesota. But it is not. Their unique dialect is just that-unique. Its history is incredibly interesting and deserving of historical respect. The dialect is fun. The people there do not lack intelligence and they surely do not lack cultural/regional distinctiveness and pride.
Sure, the dialect is fun to joke about. . . it still sounds funny to me any way I look at it. But I am educated about the dialect now.
Conclusions have been drawn. Had I not been so quick to judge I could have learned the truth behind the dialect, which in reality is an obvious one. I hope others will be capable and willing to see this too: The Northern Minnesota Iron Range dialect is not going to disappear. Enjoy it. “You betcha!” Works Cited 1. Allen, Harold B.
The Linguistic Atlas Of The Upper Midwest. 3 vols. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1973. 2. Finegan, Edward.
Language: its structure and use. 2nd ed. Orlando: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1994. 3. Linn, Michael D. “The Origin And Development Of The Iron Range Dialect In Northern Minnesota.” Studia Anglica Posnaniensia 21.
(1988): 75-87. 4. Mohr, Howard. How To Talk Minnesotan.
New York: Penquin Books, 1987. 5. Sheperd, Valerie. Language Variety and the Art of the Everyday Poetry In Speech. New York, 1990.
6. Underwood, Gary N. “The Dialect of The Mesabi Range.” American Dialect Society 67. University of Alabama Press, 1988. 7. Online Sources 1.
http://cfl.state.mn.us/grad/rule3501.htm November 19th, 1998. 2. http://cfl.state.mn.us/grad/WebGSFeb.htm November 19th, 1998. Travis Gau.