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Stephen King Mentions “Yooper” in Latest Novel, Duma Key

Stephen King released his latest book, Duma Key, this past January. In addition to publishing another best-seller that topped the New York Times Bestseller List, there is another important note that every Yooper should be aware of.

On page 456 of the total 606 pages, Stephen King uses the word “Yooper”.

“Wireman was making crazy what’s-going-on gestures in front of my face. I turned away from him.

‘Panda, he saved your life.’


‘I know what I know,’ I said. ‘The sketch he was showing off in the plane…it was one of mine, right?’

‘Yes…he was so proud…Edgar, what are you-‘

‘Did it have a name? Did the sketch have a name? Do you know?’

‘It was called Hello. He kept saying, ‘Don’t look much like Minnesota dere’…doing that dumb Yooper thing of his….’ A pause, and I didn’t break in because I was trying to think. Then: ‘This is your special kind of knowing. Isn’t it?’

Hello, I was thinking. Yes, of course. The first sketch I’d done in Big Pink had also been one of the powerful ones. And Tom had bought it.

Goddamned Hello.”

-pg 456, Duma Key by Stephen King

It’s not often the term Yooper is mentioned in mass media, pop culture, or a national bestseller. Everyone from the Upper Peninsula should take a little pride in this, but it still raises an important question.

Is Stephen King’s use of the word “Yooper” just reinforcing the stereotypes of our dialect?

The only reason Stephen King used the word Yooper was directly because he also used the word “dere”. Of course, most Yoopers can probably count hearing “dere” multiple times in any given day. So, Stephen King does know about the dialect in the Upper Peninsula, what else does he know about the U.P.?

Perhaps the most interesting question is, how many people reading the book across the entire world actually know what the word “Yooper” means?

If you know of any other best-selling books that mention Yoopers or the Upper Peninsula just drop a comment, we’d love to check it out.

6 Wonderful Comments

  1. Dr. L.A. Borguss
    Apr 30, 2008

    If you please,…what does “YOOPER” mean?
    I hail from the Upper Florida Keys and have never heard of such a word,..please advise.

    ~ Regards, Dr.Laurie A. Borguss

  2. Mike Itchue
    Apr 30, 2008

    You’ve gotta check out the series of murder mystery books written by Steve Hamilton, starting with “A Cold Day in Paradise.” They all take place for the most part in the U.P., with the main character living in Paradise, Michigan. The region is like another character in the book. It’s great stuff, I think you’ll dig it. Here’s a link to Hamilton’s Web site: http://authorstevehamilton.com/

  3. Yooper Steez
    May 1, 2008

    Dr. Laurie…

    Thanks for checking in! I’m pulling this definition straight from Urban Dictionary.

    “Yooper is a common term for residents of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It is derived from the initials U.P. which is pronounced you-pee. U.P. stands for Upper Peninsula, as opposed to the lower peninsula of Michigan.”

    And for your convenience here’s a map of the Upper Peninsula and Michigan.

  4. Mary Lou Curtin
    Sep 25, 2008

    ..The wild, Upper Peninsula was settled in mid-1800s by a wonderful mix of nationalities. Copper was discovered in the “Copper Country” in the “Keweenaw Peninsula” on Lake Superior and it attacted Cornishmen, as experienced miners. Finns who worked underground long enough to save for a farm or fishing boat. Croatians often worked underground. Canadian Frenchmen who worked mostly as lumber-jacks and in mills. Germans and Italians often did masonry. These folks and and a more affluent group of Eastern investors were attracted to the Marquette area on the “Iron Range”. The southern UP attracted many from Norway and Sweden, who fished Lake Michigan…Many other nationalities came to the area to establish a “better life” for their families. The area is somewhat isolated. The language is a mixture of these different nationalities. It is “Someplace Special” because of these different cultures….. youbetcha!!!…eh?

  5. People talk like there’s only -one- dialect in the U.P. My eighth grade math teacher was from the Keweenaw Peninsula and I spent most of my first class trying to figure out if she was from Scotland, which may be due in part to my rather underdeveloped people skills.
    In my own little centrally-located big-little town, I find people who were born just a decade or so before me saying more “youse guys” than I’ve ever said in my life. For that little trend, I blame the media and their Generic Midwest dialect.
    Some of us pronounce Houghton without the ‘t’, while others over pronounce it. Almost everybody says “acrosst”–once it was pointed out to my sister, so now we drive each other mad if we try and do a crossword.
    It’s typical (we’re teenagers).

  6. He mentions “yooper” in the book 11.22.63 too.

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