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Iowans: You do have an accent

Published on January 2nd, 2014 | by Josh Hafner

Iowans, and Midwesterners in general, typically don’t think they speak with an accent. But they do, said Aaron Dinkin, a linguist who featured on IPR’s “Talk of Iowa” this week. Everyone does.

A major linguistic fault line separates northern and southern Iowa, Dinkin said, meaning Iowans in Ottumwa may speak differently than those in Mason City.

Northern Iowans often speak their vowels from the back of the mouth, Dinkin said. (Think about how one enunciates a playful “Minnesooohta” accent.) Southern Iowans, however,  (as well as those in Nebraska and Missouri) pronounce vowels toward the front or middle of the mouth.

Listen to the full episode on the way Iowans speak, and how that’s changed over time.

About the Author

covers young professionals for The Des Moines Register. Josh can be reached at or on Twitter via @joshhafner.

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