It’s Pronounced Macki-NAW… I Don’t Care If It Has A “C.”

I read this recently:

“Today, as I was walking into the office in the cold and snow, I heard someone behind me laugh and say ‘Another beautiful Michigan morning’.

People in Michigan seem to delight in claiming that they have the coldest, crappiest, most unpredictable weather. I have never in my life known an area more perversely proud of its climate, and everyone is absolutely certain that this is unique to Michigan.

There are tons of Michigan weather jokes, for instance:
Q: How many seasons does Michigan have?
A: Two – winter and construction

But I grew up in upstate NY, which, as far as I can tell, has exactly the same climate as SE Michigan except we got more lake-effect snow.

And I lived for a time in The Netherlands, where I swear there are 15 different meteorological terms for “mostly cloudy with rain”. If the Dutch talk about weather, I think their complaints are well-deserved.

Why the heck do people from Michigan think they’re so unique, and can anyone tell me if this is a Michigan phenomenon or if every damn state thinks their climate is special????”

Relax Progmom, I’m here to answer your questions.

In fact it’s become my mission, because if  people like Progmom and Woody Hayes dislike Michigan then there are probably a few others annoyed by us as well. I feel it’s my duty as a Michigander to dispel ignorance about our mental state, thus enlightening the world.

Here is the Michigan Mentality:
Michiganders are perversely proud of  everything about Michigan and we think everything about our state is damn special (Kwame Kilpatrick excepted).

Progmom says:

“People in Michigan seem to delight in claiming that they have the coldest, crappiest, most unpredictable weather. “
No, no, no. We know other places have colder, crappier, more unpredictable weather. We claim to have cold, crappy, hot, sunny, dry, humid, unpredictable weather all in the same day. That’s an important difference.

“I have never in my life known an area more perversely proud of its climate.”
Again, no, no, no. We are perversely proud of everything about Michigan, not just the climate. If I was to shrink Michiganders, I’d say that it could be a case of overcompensation. We feel we deserve more recognition than we get. For example, we don’t have the fame of California, but Real Steel was one of many movies made in Michigan. In fact, I think Hugh Jackman has become our adopted son. It’s amazing how many people here “met” him while Real Steel filmed. “Meeting” him includes: thinking you saw him in the vehicle next to you, knowing the waiter that served his bubble tea, being in the crowd watching a scene being filmed, etc.

Hugh Jackman Real Steel

Hugh Jackman in Detroit.

Hawaii may have the most famous islands, but we have Mackinac Island. Enough said.

San Francisco’s bridge may be well known, but we have the Mackinac Bridge. It’s bigger.

“Everyone is absolutely certain that this is unique to Michigan.”
There are those things that are totally unique to Michigan and we’re proud of them all, no matter how lame they are (Euchre). For example, our name for soda is POP. If you ask for a soda, we’ll look at you like you’re speaking a foreign language (you are) and bring you our version of soda– it has ice cream in it.

We’re very proud (whether we admit it or not) that we can use our hand as a map. There are those Michiganders that scorn the hand-map, but even they use it at one time or another. The proper way to use the Michigan hand-map is right hand, palm up, thumb slightly outstretched. If someone uses the back of their hand as a map of Michigan, they are not native Michiganders. And a word to Wisconsin— Really your hand-map is kind of pathetic. Just stop.

1891 map

Wisconsin and Michigan. Notice the actual shapes of the states.

Michigan map

Michigan hand-map. Straight-forward

Michigan upper peninsula, Wisconsin hand-map

Wisconsin hand-map. It's not even close.

Also, we love the fact that Mackinac is pronounced Mackinaw. We love it even more when someone mispronounces it; that makes us feel intelligent.

And my favorite unique thing about Michigan is Mark “The Bird” Fidrych, a 1976 Detroit Tigers pitching phenomenon.  I’ll resist the temptation to write everything about him that I’d like. Here’s the gist of it:

  • Fidrych made the Tigers as a non-roster invitee out of the 1976 spring training. His first start was in mid-May He only made that start because the scheduled starting pitcher had the flu. Fidrych responded by throwing six no-hit innings, ending the game with a 2-1 victory in which he gave up only two hits. He went on to win 19 games, led the league in ERA (2.34) and complete games (24), was the starting pitcher in that year’s All-Star Game, won the American League Rookie of the Year Award, and finished second in voting for the Cy Young Award.— From Wikipedia
Mark Fidrych Big Bird
  • In the process Fidrych also captured the imagination of fans with his antics on the field. On June 28, 1976, he pitched against the New York Yankees in a nationally televised game on ABC; the Tigers won the game 5-1. After a game filled with “Bird” antics in which he and his team handily defeated the Yankees, Fidrych became a national celebrity. –From Wikipedia

“...can anyone tell me if this is a Michigan phenomenon or if every damn state thinks their climate is special????”
Again it’s not about climate. Everything about us is special including our very passionate rivalries, which instead of driving us apart bring us closer together in a weird Michigonian sort of way. Some of these rivalries include: Michigan State vs. University of Michgan, Yoopers vs. Trolls, Eminem vs. Kid Rock and Brandon Inge– Should he stay or should he go?

Alas, Progmom, I don’t think these explanations will suffice. It needs to be in your blood. I’ve lived in many other places, but my heart was always in Michigan.

“Si Quaeris Peninsulam Amoenam Circumspice”
“If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you.”

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20 comments on “It’s Pronounced Macki-NAW… I Don’t Care If It Has A “C.”

  1. Holy crap, I love you even more now for this post (sorry for the lack of eloquence with that word choice, but it happens.) This is SO spot-on and yes, unless you have lived through snow, 80 degree temps, rain and tornadic winds ALL IN THREE DAYS, you cannot claim to understand living in Michigan.

    Despite it’s quirks, I love our state, and not just because of the Tigers, WIngs and Eminem (although those are huge factors, of course.) We have a right to be proud and a right to defend everything from our weather to our “midwestern accent,”–as I was told by a twangy Texan that we have–except Kwame. He’s on his own.


    • Abby, no wonder I feel such kinship with you. We’re pretty much sisters. And I love the word “tornadic”; those are the very winds that have torn many shingles off my roof and turned my patio set into a dinged-up mess.

      There was so much more I wanted to put in the post, but I didn’t want to overwhelm the uninitiated.


  2. That’s me, walking behind Hugh Jackman. I met him.


  3. Hugh Jackman + Eminem = Classic Michigan acting and rapping skills.


  4. Living in Michigan now, but not being from Michigan, I can now see why Michiganders were so upset about not getting their “Robo Cop” statue in Detroit. Also, I can attest to the fact that when I first moved to this area and ordered a “soda” at a restaurant, the waiter brought me a “club soda”. I’ve since learned to order “cola”, because I feel like I would be dissing my southern upbringing if I caved and ordered “pop”. By the way, when I recently visited the south, I also found that when I ordered “iced-tea” that I need to specify that I did NOT mean “sweet tea”. Thanks for enlightening me about Michigan, Dawne. ;o


    • Actually, we were more upset at losing the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to Cleveland.

      I understand about not wanting to diss your southern upbringing, but I have heard you use the term “soda” and I have to admit it’s annoying. 😉


  5. I can’t speak for all of NY (especially because most of the state is ignored (the 75% of it above and to the west of Albany), but we have the two seasons you mention (winter and construction), have places that we pronounce differently just to mess outsiders up, claim fame due to a body of water (or the thing in it–The Lake Champlain Monster), and have a food that only we understand for what it is (a Michigan). So there you go…


  6. Michigan is an ODD state for sure. back in 1970 I spent 4 weeks there, long enough to have my older son born as I worked a summer job there. We were in Albion, lived next to the Holiday Inn off the interstate, in an old farmhouse, there were farsm all around us and some days had to wait to travel to town for the cows crossing the road. I loved seeing the northern lights even in may when i was there. We had no TV only an AM radio (not even FM), so the only station we could get was out of Jackson, and they thought Al Martino hung the moon. God, what a month that was. But I still want to go back and see the north woods as hemingway wrote about it.

    What was wierd however was But what made Michican odd was that the state voted for George Wallace in the demoicratic primary that summer.


  7. Great take on our lovely state of Michigan. Gotta love it here.


  8. That was great. Of course I’m from the UK so its a bit hard for me to follow the conversation between states in the USA about which is the best, wettest etc. IN the Uk “pop” can refer to lemonade, or sometimes to Champagne. Come to think of it I’m not sure that “soda” isn’t lemonade, or is it sparkling water. I’m beginning to forget what point I was trying to make now so I’ll just vanish into the ether. Obviously I enjoyed the post.


  9. Love this post! It’s so funny yet true. I can’t remember how old I was when I realized the whole country didn’t call it “pop.”


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