Uff da! Minnesotans, North Dakotans rank among fastest talkers in the nation
Forget the “Fargo”-bred stereotypes of Midwesterners as molasses-tongued yokels. A surprising new report by Preply, an online language-tutoring company, reports that Minnesotans are actually the fastest-talkers in the nation — averaging 5.34 syllables per second. Other rapid-fire speakers are North Dakotans (fifth fastest with 5.29 syllables per second) and South Dakotans (eighth fastest at 5.27 syllables per second).
Forget what you think about New Yorkers or other northeasterners as our country’s mile-a-minute motormouths.
A new study suggests that if the U.S. ever had a state-vs.-state battle rap, Minnesotans, North Dakotans and South Dakotans could outspit the relatively lethargic lungs of East Coast dwellers.
That’s right. Forget the “Fargo”-bred stereotypes of Midwesterners as molasses-tongued yokels. A surprising new report by Preply, an online language-tutoring company, reports that Minnesotans are actually the fastest-talkers in the nation — averaging 5.34 syllables per second. Other rapid-fire speakers are North Dakotans (fifth fastest with 5.29 syllables per second) and South Dakotans (eighth fastest at 5.27 syllables per second).
Yup. Regardless of what you’ve learned from Joe Pesci movies, Big Apple dwellers rank at No. 37 nationwide for speech rate, spitting out a slug-like 4.99 syllables per second.
Less surprisingly, Southerners are among the country's slowest speakers. The U.S. state with the slowest average rate of speech is Louisiana at 4.78 syllables per second. South Carolina and Mississippi are the second and third slowest talkers respectively.
The Preply report combined data from two nationally conducted studies to determine states with the fastest speech rate. From these studies, Preply gleaned data from the caption files of YouTube videos as well as the speech rate from over four million phone calls.
This report surprised me. Did the researchers accidentally monitor only the phone calls of Minnesota auctioneers? Did they record North Dakotans only after they’d consumed red eye and were in the midst of a spirited chicken dance? How did this happen?
But when I really thought about it, it started to make sense. Here are my theories as to why North Dakota and its neighbors are turbo-charged talkers:
- To get in from the cold. Let’s face it. If you live in a more temperate climate, you’re not in any kind of hurry. But if you stop to help a stranded motorist in 15-below weather, you aren’t going to stand around exchanging layer-cake recipes and babbling about the meaning of life. You will speak very quickly and precisely about what needs to be done:
Good Samaritan: “Got jumper cables?”
Motorist in Distress: “Yup. Got ‘em.”
Good Samaritan: “Pop the hood?”
Good Samaritan: “Now jump in and try it.”
Motorist: “It started.”
Good Samaritan: “That should do ya. Drive safely!”
Motorist: “Thanks so much!”
Good Samaritan: “Yup.”
- A Germanavian desire to not be too much trouble. Like many of my generation, I grew up in a family where kids were told to “be seen and not heard.” No one cared if they were squashing the delicate desert flower of their child’s precious psyche.
Our No. 1 mission was to not bother anyone. When my family visited relatives on vacations, Mom assumed it was like a troop of rabid rhesus monkeys descending on the Royal Family. We were told to eat everything on our plates, help with dishes afterward, take very short showers and happily sleep on couches or the floor.
This people-pleasing codependency has carried over into my whole life. I have been known to leave parties a half hour after arriving so I wouldn’t overstay my welcome.
In conversations, I almost always assume that I am imposing. When I approach others, especially authority figures, it's as if I am still an unwelcome rhesus monkey. I will even write notes so I stay on topic and don't take too much of the other person's valuable time. No wonder I try to speak so quickly in these interactions.
- Large family syndrome. If you grew up in a big family, you'll get this. Your parents were probably pretty tired. They only had so much time in a day to listen to all those kids vying for their attention. In my family, we learned early on that if you were going to survive, you had to be fast. You had to eat fast or there wouldn’t be food left on the table. You had to call dibs first or you would lose your chair.
Likewise, if you told a joke at the family table, you didn’t have time to prattle on. Instead, I learned to tell stories as quickly as possible, before another sibling could butt in or a parent could sigh and say: “Let’s wrap it up, motormouth.”
In time, I learned to even abbreviate knock-knock jokes.
Even now, when trying to tell stories or jokes to a crowd, I panic: “Why am I taking so long? Do they look bored? Stay on track, Tammy! Cut to the chase, motormouth!"
Another fact from the study underscores these three theories: North Dakotans may talk faster, but they also talk less.
In fact, the least talkative states were all Midwestern, with Iowans speaking the least, Minnesotans the second least, South Dakotans the sixth least and North Dakotans the seventh least.
Conversely, while New Yorkers may talk slower, they also talk more. The study showed when New Yorkers engage in business conversations, they use up to 62% more words than others to have the same discussions.
It should be noted that one area Preply didn't study was which state residents talk the most when saying goodbye. Consider the typical Scandinavian goodbye, which begins in the kitchen at least an hour before actual departure, moves down the front steps, wanders across the driveway, then continues for another 25 minutes as the chatting hosts refuse to let the company back their vehicle out the driveway.
At times like these, I'm guessing we Midwesterners talk at least three times as much as the average New Yorker or Californian.
Analyze THAT, Preplay.