James Lileks
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This week in questionable studies: Minnesotans, according to language-learning site Preply.com, are the fastesttalkingpeople intheUnitedStates.

Reaaaaallllly? I think this is one of those nonsensical counterintuitive press releases they send out just to get people riled up. Minnesota's favorite dish: Goose feet with curry! What? No. It's a tater-tot hot dish, with gluey rice and hamburger untroubled by any noisy spice. We don't eat goose feet. That sounds French. Maybe it's a Le Sueur thing.

You suspect that the "research" consists of finding one person who's from Minnesota, or was born here, or spent six hours at the airport on a layover, and asking them what people in Minnesota are like. It's all nonsense.

How can we talk faster than New Yorkers? For one thing, we're not as peeved as New Yorkers, many of whom live in a state of irritation like someone who gets up every morning, flays off their skin and walks outside into a lemon-juice hurricane. When you're permanently peeved, you talk fast, because you've gotta lotta gripes to get out.

What about people in border towns like Moorhead, across the river from Fargo? Are the Minnesotans an inch from the state line turbocharged motor-mouths compared with the mush-mouthed drawl of their North Dakota counterparts?

Are we to seriously believe that a culture whose primary utterances are things like "welp" and "uff da" is the nation's leader in Gatling gun palaver? I mean, welp is an instance of our ability to say everything without spending a lot of syllables.

New Yorkers leaving a dinner party: "Love to stay and talk more about that exhibit at the Met — really, I don't know why they don't give the Egyptian material back, it's theft — but I have a year's pass so I hope they don't do it soon. But you're absolutely right, the Degas exhibit is great, or so I hear, I haven't gone, what with the lines. But now we really must leave because I have the Peloton set to start a class at 7 a.m. whether I'm on it or not. Kisses, love you, thanks so much, it was lovely."

A typical Minnesota leaving a dinner party: "Welp."

Granted, they might say "welp" really fast.

Here's another aspect to disprove this lie: People who talk fast tend to use their hands in expressive fashion. Minnesotans are not, for the most part, a gesticulating people. When we say "uff da," our hands are not involved. Imagine someone saying "uff da" while bringing their fingertips together and moving their hands up and down like a clichéd Italian irritated that someone spilled a perfectly good plate of spaghetti.

Maybe a shoulder goes up slightly when you "uff." Or your hands spread a little on the "da." But we're not out there waving our arms like Leonard Bernstein conducting "Flight of the Bumblebee."

The best part of the study: Minnesotans also are No. 1 when it comes to the fewest words spoken. So we blurt things out in a mad rush, then shut up in horror because we said too much? Perhaps the survey takers were counting uff da as one word. Make it two, and perhaps we speak a normal quantity.

Then again, it's entirely possible that the survey was taken by someone who showed up during a deep freeze, interviewed people on the street, and everyone talked fast and short because it was cold, and they wanted to get it over with.