UFF da! Minnesotans and North Dakotans Are Among the Nation’s Fastest Speakers – InForum

Forget what you think of New Yorkers or other Northeasterners as our country’s mile-in-minute motor-mouths.

A new study suggests that if state-vs-state battle rap ever breaks out in the US, Minnesotans, North Dakotans and South Dakotans could spit out the relatively lethargic lungs of East Coast residents.

That’s correct. Forget the Fargo-bred stereotypes of Midwesterners as treacle-tongued boobies. A surprising new report from Preply, an online language teaching company, reports that Minnesotans are actually the fastest-speaking people in the nation – averaging 5.34 syllables per second. Other rapid-fire speakers include North Dakotans (fifth fastest at 5.29 syllables per minute) and South Dakotans (8th fastest at 5.27 syllables per minute).

Yes indeed. Regardless of what you’ve learned from Joe Pesci movies, the Big Apple ranks 37th nationwide for speaking speed, spitting out a snail-like 4.99 syllables per second.

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The Preply report, based on YouTube captions and 4 million phone calls, found that a surprising number of Midwestern states have the fastest-speaking residents.

Source: Preply

Unsurprisingly, Southerners are some of the slowest speakers in the country. The US state with the slowest average speaking speed is Louisiana at 4.78 syllables per second. South Carolina and Mississippi are the second and third slowest speakers, respectively.

The Preply report combined data from two nationwide studies to identify states with the fastest speaking speeds. From these studies, Preply collected data from the subtitle files of YouTube videos and the speaking speed of over four million phone calls.

This report surprised me. Did the researchers inadvertently just monitor the Minnesota auctioneers’ phone calls? Did they only take on North Dakotans after consuming red eyes and finding themselves in the middle of a spirited chicken dance? How did it happen?

But when I really thought about it, it started to make sense. Here are my theories on why North Dakota and its neighbors are supercharged talkers:

  • To get in from the cold. Let’s be honest. If you live in a more temperate climate, don’t be in a hurry. But when you stop in minus 15 to help a stranded motorist, you won’t be standing around exchanging layer cake recipes and babbling about the meaning of life. They speak very quickly and precisely about what needs to be done:

The Good Samaritan: “Do you have jumper cables?”

Motorists in distress: “Yeah. Got them.”

The Good Samaritan: “Open the hood?”

Motorist: “Yes indeed.”

The Good Samaritan: “Now jump in and try it.”

Motorist: “It began.”

The Good Samaritan: “That should be enough for you. Drive safely!”

Motorist: “Many Thanks!”

The Good Samaritan: “Yes indeed.”

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How each state rates in terms of voice speed.

Source: Preply

  • A Germanic wish not to cause too much trouble. Like many of my generation, I grew up in a family where children were told that they should be “seen, not heard.” No one cared if they crushed the delicate desert flower of their child’s precious psyche.

Our number one mission was not to disturb anyone. When my family visited relatives on vacation, Mom assumed it was like a horde of rabid rhesus monkeys pouncing on the royal family. We were told to eat everything on our plates, help with the dishes afterwards, take a very short shower and sleep happily on sofas or the floor.
This philanthropic codependency has carried over into my entire life. I’ve been known to leave parties half an hour after I arrive so I don’t overrun my welcome.

In conversations, I almost always assume that I’m imposing. When I approach others, especially authority figures, I’m still an unwelcome rhesus monkey. I’ll even take notes so I stay on topic and don’t take up too much of the other person’s valuable time. No wonder I try to speak so quickly in these interactions.

  • extended family syndrome. If you grew up in a big family, this is what you will get. Your parents were probably pretty tired. They only had so much time in a day to listen to all these kids vying for their attention. In my family we learned early on that you have to be fast if you want to survive. You had to eat quickly, otherwise nothing was left on the table. You had to call dibs first or you would lose your chair.

If you told a joke at the family table, you didn’t have time to continue the chatter. Instead, I’ve learned to tell stories as quickly as possible, before another sibling interferes or a parent sighs and says, “Let’s break up, dumbass.”
Over time, I even learned to abbreviate knock-knock jokes.

Even now, when I try to tell stories or jokes to a crowd, I panic: “Why is it taking me so long? Do they look bored? Stay on track, Tammy! In a nutshell, Motormaul!”

Another fact from the study supports these three theories: While North Dakotans speak faster, they also speak less.

In fact, the least talkative states were all in the Midwest, with Iowans speaking the least, Minnesotans second least, South Dakotans sixth least, and North Dakotans seventh least.

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Although New Yorkers speak slower, they also speak more, according to the Preply report.

Source: Preply

Conversely, while New Yorkers speak more slowly, they also speak more. The study showed that when it comes to business conversations, New Yorkers use up to 62% more words than others to conduct the same discussions.

It’s worth noting that one area Preply didn’t examine was which state residents talk the most when saying goodbye. Think of the quintessential Scandinavian farewell that begins at least an hour before actual departure in the kitchen, descends the front steps, wanders up the driveway, and then lasts another 25 minutes while the chatty hosts refuse to leave the company driveway.

I reckon at times like this we in the Midwest talk at least three times as much as the average New Yorker or Californian.

Analyze THAT, preplay.

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