The Pittsburgh toilet. Squeaky cheese. City chicken. Shampoo Banana. Chevy in the Hole. These are all phrases that are familiar to Midwesterners, but foreign to anyone living outside the region. Find out what they mean in author Edward McClelland’s upcoming book on Midwestern speech and sayings. McClelland will not only explain what Midwesterners say, but how and why they say it. His book will examine the causes of the Northern Cities Vowel Shift, one of the most significant changes in English pronunciation in a thousand years.

It will explain why the accents in Fargo miss the nasality that’s a hallmark of Minnesota speech. And why Chicagoans talk more like people from Buffalo than their next-door neighbors in Wisconsin. For outsiders, McClelland will include helpful information such as “How to Talk Through Your Nose,” “How to Mispronounce Foreign Place Names,” and “‘Well, That’s Different’: How to Passive-Aggressively Criticize People, Places and Things.”

If you’re from the Midwest, you’ll have a better understanding of why you talk the way you do. If you’re not, well, you’ll know exactly what to say the next time someone ends a sentence with “eh?”


“A dictionary wrapped in some serious dialectology inside a gift book trailing a serious whiff of Relevance.”

The New York Times

“An amusing glossary to the lingo of the [Midwest’s] more industrial states.”

Washington Post

“McClelland leavens his writing with pop-culture references … and touches of humor.”

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

“There is scholarship [in How to Speak Midwestern], a deep understanding of grammar and ethnic history, as he traces certain speech patterns down to a single city. But McClelland, a Michigan native, also has a voice, opinions and a few punchlines.”

Star Tribune

“How to Speak Midwestern is a fascinating read, whether you hail from WOWOland, the UP, Cereal City, or Baja Minnesota.”


“A delightful romp through the dialects and vocabulary of the region.”

Lansing City Pulse

“In his delightful new book, Edward McClelland argues that the dialect of the Midwest is one of the country’s most linguistically significant … [How to Speak Midwestern is] a long-overdue study of the middle-American vernacular, and how that vernacular informs our identity. At its heaviest, the book is a socio-economic treatise worthy of a university library; at its lightest, it’s a regionally specific Urban Dictionary.”

Inside Hook