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How to Talk Minnesotan: A Visitor's Guide Paperback – August 4, 1987

4.5 out of 5 stars 44 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Those looking for someone to fill Garrison Keillor's trademark red socks will not be appeased by Mohr, who was a writer for A Prairie Home Companion. There is a similarity in the book's wryness to the humor in the show, and there are dummied-up ads of local businesses. But despite the book's subtitle, this isn't really about Minnesota: some of the humor is based on the idiosyncracies and colloquialisms of the region, but most of it can be applied to just about any state. Still, Mohr has found some purely Minnesotan motifs: the section on starting the car in winter will ring true to anyone who has survived the experience; his few, well-chosen words on going to the lake or the cabin is acutely observed; and his attitude about lutefisk, a dish that natives consume more out of a sense of duty than with relish, strikes just the right tone (he regrets having to mention it altogether). But he misses and skims over some genuine regionalisms (where's uffda?), invents others, and usually strains to make a point. Because his humorous account of Minnesota invites comparison with Keillor, the book is found wanting.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

A one-time radio script writer, Howard Mohr has become known as the man who translated Minnesotan for the rest of the world.


Early in his career, Mohr wrote for Prairie Home Companion, creating fake radio ads and listener favorites such as Raw Bits. But he's best known as the author of the bestselling book How to Talk Minnesotan. It's a book that when made into a video version won a regional Emmy in Chicago. He even adapted it into a stage musical which received a long-time run at playhouses in the region.


Mohr is a graduate of Abilene Christian University and lives with his family on a southwestern Minnesota prairie. 

--This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (August 4, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140092846
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140092844
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #633,438 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I was given "How to Talk Minnesotan" by some wonderful friends as a 'welcome to Minnesota' gift back in 1995, and found it instantly hilarious. What was less obvious, though, was how accurate this book was in many ways, most particularly in rural Minnesota. Although I wasn't born in Minnesota, I now love it and consider myself an adopted Minnesotan, but after nine years I am still learning to master the subtle complexities of Minnesota interactions so perfectly defined in this book.
Howard Mohr ("Creator of Minnesota Language Systems"), a brilliant writer for 'A Prairie Home Companion,' details all the basics of talking Minnesotan form the viewpoint of a visitor. After reading this book, you will: learn how to refuse food three times before accepting it; learn to reduce anxiety with the all-purpose reaction "it could be worse"; learn proper conduct at Bob's B-17 Park, the Particle Board Pageant, and the Deep Woods Tent Casino; and learn the proper way of accepting a gift from a Minnesotan (hint: never call it a gift).
There are wonderful examples of all linguistic areas provided as well as guides to where to go in Minnesota, Minnesota dating etiquette, and an overview of Minnesotan cuisine, including detailed explanations of various hotdish concepts unseen outside Minnesota. This is a wonderful book, with more than a little humor and more than a little truth in it. I love Minnesota, and I love this book. It's a heckuva deal.
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Format: Paperback
I bought this book for my brother for his birthday years ago. I borrowed it from him and haven't given it back yet. If you were raised in rural Minnesota, Iowa or Wisconsin, this book will remind you of home. The piece about hot dishes and tacos (pronounced TAH-co) really cracked me up. We still laugh about the Minnesota good-byes that resemble the ritual still practiced in Wisconsin today. You, the visitor, have to mention that it is time to go at least three times (with intermittent periods of conversation) before you actually take leave or you are considered a bit rude.
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Format: VHS Tape
I live in Minnesota, but my Mom moved to Florida nine years ago. (We were both born in Duluth!) Well, I sent her a copy of the book and we burn up the telephone wires laughing and sharing our favorite paragraphs. She says it's the best gift I have ever given her. I recommend this book to all nostalgic, former Minnesotans and the people who love them. Hi Mom!
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Format: Audio CD
I read this book once, 12 years ago, and still laugh when I think about it. Anyone who is from Minnesota (especially from a small town), or moved there from somewhere else, would appreciate this book... because it unwraps the cultural norms that we grew up with not thinking twice about them until we left (or moved in).

The reader who didn't get it must live in Dinkytown, the glorious place that will be forever remembered as the hang out and career beginnings of Robert Zimmerman (Bob Dillan). If you can't laugh about yourself, you must be dull... or perhaps a bit too Minnesotan in your outlook, the perpetual underdog, Minnesota, the Mondale State.

There's a saying in Minnesota...'40 below keeps out the rif-raf.'
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Hot dishes, walleyes, how to wave, pancake feeds, and appropriate Minnesotan grammar, it's all there even though my relatives in Minnesota would beg to differ. "So, what gave you the idea that we talk like that then." How to Talk Minnesotan is one of those type deals you can pick up, open to any page and have a good laugh while feeling as though you're right there in Bemidji. Yeah, good deal. You could do worse.
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Format: Paperback
This book is a wonderful tongue-in-cheek cultural study. Probably better to read if you are a bit familiar with Minnesota and can imagine someone with the accent actually saying the classic lines or serving you hotdish. Even if you aren't familiar with the accent it's a funny read - if you don't get it you probably aren't feeling so good. And you'll have to read it to understand that.
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Format: Paperback
As a transplanted Minnesotan living in Idaho, this is one of funniest commentaries I have seen on life in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. If you've ever lived in Minnesota, you'll roll on the ground with laughter while reading this book.
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Format: Audio CD
Well, ya know, dis book has been generating smiles since I received it as a gift in 1987, shortly after moving from northern MN to southern CA. Ofer Pete's sake, many a former-Minnesotan I've known has enjoyed the book, dontchya know. It is currently loaned to a "Fargo" fan. The book, incidentally, has gained recent popularity amongst my acquaintances because of the movie. Whatever
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