I heard the expression “up north” in a local commercial recently, and it got me wondering how common this expression is in other states. Here in SE Michigan, specifically the greater metropolitan Detroit area, when we say we’re going “up north” it’s understood to mean we are going to do outdoor woodsy recreational activities like camping, hiking, fishing, boating, shooting, hunting, etc. Of course where one is from would make a big difference. A person who lives in New York city or surrounding environs might also refer to going “up north” as shorthand for going camping or generally roughing it. Or might not, I don’t know. But if you are in a large population area that happens to be in the northern part of a state, the term probably doesn’t exist. At least, not with he same meaning.
Another regionalism we have is the term “party store” to refer to a convenience store which sells beer, wine, liquor, snacks, and some limited grocery items. I didn’t realize it was local until I’d mention going to the “party store” with someone who was from out of state, and they were confused-- “what, to buy like confetti and streamers?” they thought I meant party supplies store.
And of course there is the famous “pop vs. soda” regionalism. I was 19, working my way through college as a food and beverage cashier in a Detroit hotel, before I learned this. I was working a convention with an out-of-state group, selling tickets for pop, beer & wine or liquor drinks that would be given to the bartenders (so they didn’t have to handle payments). Someone came up and asked to buy a ticket for a soda. I said, “soda water? That’s free, just ask the bartender”. “No, soda, like Coke, Sprite, 7-up…”. Was a new one on me.
In western PA, we buy bottles of liquor at a store owned/operated by the state. We call it the State Store or Liquor Store. The first time I was in a state where they had Package Stores I was blown away.
The term is used in Wisconsin, too (typically pronounced upNORT), and means mostly the same thing. However, part of “goin’ upNORT” in Wisconsin is the idea that you have (or have access to) a cabin or cottage somewhere in the northern part of the state (probably on or near a lake); in the summer, you might be going up there to go boating or swimming, or maybe just hanging out at the cottage for the weekend, grilling out and drinking beer.
Interesting. For Detroit, the big city near me, “Downtown” had about the same meaning as your assumption-- not just the busiest part, but the most desirable part of the city to be. I thought of “Uptown” as a part of some other city like New York, that was the fancy, richer part where the hoity-toity lived and partied (like Billy Joel’s “Uptown Girl”). Detroit didn’t have an “Uptown”, mostly Downtown and an outer ring between 8 mile and Downtown that was a ‘scary’ area where you didn’t want to break down or get a flat tire. It does have the New Center Area, which is north of Downtown, but wasn’t the same as “Uptown”- it’s a business district that you didn’t really hang out in after dark.
That was pretty much the same for us-- I was always envious of the families for whom “up north” meant going to their cabin, rather than staying at a state forest campground or a crappy motel.
When I was 10 we moved from Indiana to the Baltimore area. I had no idea what “soda” was. I thought everyone was talking about fizzy water.
After 8 years I got used to Baltimore then went to college in Ann Arbor. It was back to “pop.” They guys would also talk about “dealing girls” (hitting on them). I had the same reaction to “party stores” as the OP. Sometimes people would do things that were “bogue” (rhymes with “vogue”). All the people who grew up there were so inculcated in these terms that they had no idea they were regionalisms and were puzzled that I had never heard them.
On the Facebook group for my highschool-era home town, someone asked the rest of us if we still say “Dempster Dumpster” to refer to the big metal bins that the trucks drive up to and insert the fork-thingies and lift into the air to dump the refuse into the compactor. I’d forgotten about that one. As soon as any of us moved away from Los Alamos, we learned that no one else calls them that. Just “dumpster”.
When I was in high school in Green Bay, we used the term “doing Cheerios” for skidding your car around in circles (particularly in a snowy parking lot). When I left town to go to college, I discovered that, pretty much everywhere else in the Midwest, they call this “doing donuts,” and using the Cheerios term just got you a blank look.
“Gangway” to refer to the space between buildings (in an urban setting where houses are close together on a block, so maybe six-ish feet across.)
Ending a sentence with “come with” or “go with” as in “We’re going over to da Goat, you wanna come with?” This exists in parts of the upper Midwest, as well, and is thought to be derived from the German verb mitkommen. Most dialects, to my experience, do not use the word “with” there or use the word “along.”
“Chicagoland,” I’ve found, sounds odd to people not familiar with the area, with them expecting it to refer to some sort of theme park or something – it’s what we call the metropolitan area.
“Jagoff” is not as widespread as I thought, though it is found in the Pittsburg area, as well (I believe both Chicago and Pittsburg lay claim to creating that appellation.)
On arriving in the D.C. area I ordered a sub and the person taking the order hollered back, “With!” I figured out eventually that meant “with onions.” I think that usage is primarily a Philly invention.
Oh, while we’re on food, I had no idea until college that an Italian beef sandwich was not a universal food item. And a “combo” usually refers to an Italian beef sandwich with an Italian sausage nested in it.
Come to think of it, General Mills is just across the Wisconsin state border- the other side of the state from Green Bay, but a straight shot west. Maybe that’s where the phrase “doing Cheerios” comes from. It just didn’t cross the lake to Michigan.
I had no idea what a Coney Island was until I moved to Detroit. I thought it was a place that served chili dogs, but they are more, basically what we called in Ohio a greasy spoon. or as a place that had rides like an amusement park. But mostly they are better than most greasy spoons I have encountered before and many of them are Greek Coney Islands that serve gyros and antipasta salads in addition to breakfast and burgers and such.
As for “up north” I’ve learned that people from the Upper Peninsula will argue that the UP is not up north, it’s the UP damn it. Up north generally refers to the northern part of the mitten.
When I was in college in Detroit, we would often make a pilgimage to Windsor, Canada, just across the Detroit river to get Canadian beer. Labatt’s and Molson was sold in the US, but we heard that “real” Canadian beer had a higher alcohol content than the watered down American version. The government-run Canadian store where you bought beer was literally called “The Beer Store”. I thought that was kind of funny and uniquely Canadian how on-the-nose it was. Like it was named by Bob and Doug McKenzie.
I know, I always thought it was weird that a name for a certain style of restaurant or specifically chili dog that was uniquely a Detroit thing came from a New York amusement park. According to Wikipedia, it came from Greek immigrants to New York who migrated to other parts of the US and kept the name “Coney Island”, so apparently it’s a thing in other cities or states. But I only ever heard of ‘Coney Island’ style dogs referring to Detroit.
Yes, that sounds about right-- saying “I’m going up north this weekend”, we meant the upper part of the mitten. Otherwise you’d specify “I’m going up north to the U.P.” or just “I’m going to the U.P.”.