How to talk Minnesotan: a survival guide

Today has been full of discovery. But nothing comes close to the gem I came across for anyone planning to live or visit my home state of Minnesota. If you are frightened, it’s a normal feeling. But with the right training, even you can understand, coexist and thrive in the rural townships dotted along the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Learn how to talk Minnesotan.

The following video may be too much for visitors to this website to understand. I’m not putting you down. But understand there are certain qualities that each Minnesotan possesses that are unexplainable.

I credit PBS in Minnesota for putting together the undeniably best survival guide that exists on the topic if you ever plan to visit or live in Minnesota. Remember, this video was produced in 1993. But all survival tips remain current.

You’ll learn important tips like:

Minnesota body language


To best communicate with a Minnesotan, understand body language.

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  • Keep your distance.
  • Avoid touching people.
  • Shake hands quickly.
  • Keep arms at sides.

It’s very important to maintain an adequate distance from each other. For instance, these standing Minnesotans never face each other during communication. The angle at which you speak with a Minnesotan should never be less than 45-degrees. 90-degrees is average. 135-degrees is common. 180-degrees is within reason, but any more would be rare. Understand the rules, and you will be treated as a genuine Minnesotan.

Minnesota phrases, explained


As explained in the video, these three workhorses of Minnesota conversation will carry you through the first scary hours. In fact, they should be good for a week if you only speak when spoken to which is always a good idea anyway. Practice these phrases and you’ll be all set.

The Minnesota Wave


The Minnesota wave. It’s perhaps the most crucial element to surviving in Minnesota. Study. Practice. Succeed. Earn acceptance. More often than not, the thing that brings a stranger to his knees in Minnesota, is waving. The single-finger wave from the steering wheel is the toughest act to accomplish. But if you get it right, you’ll know you’ve arrived. And you won’t have leave unless you want to.

Eating food in Minnesota


Hotdish. Bars. Understand food in Minnesota. Hotdish is commonly served hot, in a dish. Recipes grace the pages of Lutheran cook books. You will come face to face with hotdish. There’s no escaping it. Bars, too. You’ll learn how to accept the food and exactly what is inside these miraculous culinary achievements.

How to talk Minnesotan – the full video training

Now for the training. If you are truly interested in learning the ways of my people and guaranteeing you’ll visit Minnesota and return to your home city alive and well, please view the following production. It will help you understand that Minnesotans are a gentle people. But there are rules. Abide…and you will survive.

(Source: TPT · Minnesota Video Vault)

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Josh Benson

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