After transplanting from South Dakota to Fargo as a freshman in college, I quickly learned the correct way to say “NDSU Bison.” It took all of about three seconds of being on a bleeding-green-and-gold campus to realize that saying it any other way would immediately alert my “native” friends of my outsider status.
By the time I returned home for the summer after that first year, I was saying “Bizon” and getting questioned about it by my South Dakota friends.
“It’s pronounced “bison,” with an ‘s’,” they’d announce.
“Not in Fargo,” I replied. “In Fargo, we say ‘Bizon’.”
But not just in Fargo, as Kellam Barta found out when he spent two years researching how far the pronunciation of “Bizon” extended not just through the state, but also the region.
Other linguistic peculiarities like saying “hot dish” instead of “casserole” or “pop” instead of “soda” are less surprising, because those are widely Midwestern quirks.
And they’re very fun to write about, as I did for the 2016 edition of Impact magazine. If you’re planning a visit to Fargo sometime soon, glance through this article. You might learn a thing or two about the way we speak Fargo, and you’ll be able to as well.