28 January 2010

I Ain't Tawkin Funny...

With ths success of the Saints quite a few out-of-towners are becoming part of the Who Dat Nation. OK, welcome aboard. But if you're going to be amongst us, please - you need to learn the local language. And if you think New Orleanians sound like Belizare the Cajun, you're wrong. So below, in the interests of Who Dat unity, is a basic 'Nawlins dictionary. Note this is NOT mine - it was sent to me by email and the author(s) remain unknown. Feel free to add more in the comments.

ANYWAYS - And, then; and, so.

ARABIAN - Someone from Arabi, in St. Bernard Parish.

AWRITE - The appropriate response to the greeting "Where y'at?" Also, a greeting in and of itself: "Awrite, Ed!"

AWRITE, HAWT - Response of agreement to a member of the opposite gender.

AX - Ask.

DA BANK'KETTE - The sidewalk.

BAT'TROOM - A room in the house where one doesn't find bats, but where one bathes, attends to the elimination of bodily waste, or locks oneself in and cries until one gets one's way.

BERL - To cook by surrounding something in hot, bubbling 212°F liquid; the preferred method for cooking shellfish.

BINHAVIN, BEEN HAVIN' - To have had something for a long time, as in ... Q: "How long ya had dat dress? A: "Oh, I binhavin dat. "

BINLOOKIN, BEEN LOOKIN' - To have searched for something for a long time, as in "I binlook in f'dat book. "

BOBO - A small injury or wound.

BOO - A term of endearment, frequently used by parents and grandparents for small children, even small children who happen to be 40 years old ... Believed to be Cajun in origin.

BRA - A form of address for men, usually one with whom you are not acquainted. Usually used in this manner: "Say, bra ..."

CATLICK - The predominant religion in New Orleans . And, according to some Baptists, all Hell-bound.

CHALMATION - Someone from Chalmette, a city in St. Bernard Parish that's part of the New Orleans "metro area". Occasionally used as an insult. (Many New Orleanians have a low opinion of Chalmette and the hell wit them anyway....) Out-of-towners often pronounce it with the hard "ch" sound as in "charge". It's more like or , and the city is pronounced .

CHIEF, CHEEF - A form of address between men, along the lines of "cap" and "podna".

DA - The.

DAT - That.

DAWLIN - A universal form of address. Women use it to refer to both sexes, men use it toward women.

DEM - Them.

DERE - There. As in "Dere ya go!", an expression of encouragement or acknowledgement of having done something for someone else.

DESE, DOSE - These, t hose.

DIS - This.

MAKE DOE-DOE - Sleep. From the Cajun French "fais do do", or "make sleep".

DOWN DA ROAD - A staple in the vocabulary of the St. Bernard Parish Yat. This term is travel directions for someone headed to lower St. Bernard Parish traveling on St. Bernard Highway (US Highway 46). You are usually in da parish when you use this phrase with a destination of either Violet or Poydras.. For example: "Let's go down da road and pass over by the trailah pawk".

DOWN-RIVA - The eastward direction, toward St. Bernard Parish. "Rocky n' Carlo's is down-riva from heah". Opposite of "Up-Riva".

DRESSED - When ordering a po-boy, dressed" indicates lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and MYNEZ, on it. See NUTTINONIT.

EARL, ERL -1. A vegetable product used for cooking, making roux, etc.2. A petroleum product used to lubricate the engine of your car..3. Your Uncle Earl. (Most New Orleanians have an Uncle Earl; I do. )

ELLESHYEW - Louisiana State University , Baton Rouge .

ERNGE, URNGE - An orange-colored citrus fruit.

FOR - a preposition used by New Orleanians instead of "at" or "by" when referring to time. E.g., "Da parade's for 7:00, but we betta get dere for 6 if we wanna find pawkin'." This one tends to be particularly confusing to non-natives.

F'Sho! - 1. A statement of agreement. See YEAH YOU RITE.2.. An excellent (but out of print) book by local artist Bunny Matthews, featuring cartoons with "actual dialogue heard on the streets of our metropolis".

F'TRUE - Pronounced . When phrased as a question, it means "Is that so?" or "Ya kiddin'!!". When phrased as a statement, it's an affirmation, a shortened version of "Nuh uh, I ain't lyin' ta ya ..."

GAWD - A supernatural deity, worshipped by most New Orleanians.

GO CUP - A paper or plastic cup for consumption of alcoholic beverages out on the street, as open glass containers (and cans too, I think) are illegal.

HAWT- A term of endearment used primarily by local females.

HEY, BAY-BEE! - Pronounced with the "BAY" drawn way out. A greeting between any two people of either gender.

I'LL TAKE ME A ... - May I have a ...

INKPEN - A ball-point pen, or any kind of writing utensil, really. Always heavy emphasis on the first syllable ... "Lemme borra ya INKpen, awrite?"

JAMBALAYA - A rice-based dish containing meat and seafood, prepared in a nearly infinite variety of ways by Louisianians. The usual out-of-towner mispronunciation has the first syllable rhyming with "jam", when it should rhyme with "Tom" ... , secondary accent on first syllable, primary accent on third. But one local pronunciation that was brought to my attention (although nobody in my family said it this way) is , primary accent of first syllable which rhymes with "bum", secondary accent on20third syllable.

JAWN - The most popular boys' name in English, pronounced this way among Localese-speakers. Also, a pot ta pee in. Rhymes with "lawn". See TURLET.

K&B PURPLE - A particular shade of purple that you'll know if you know K&B. Used in phrases like, "He was so mad, his face was K&B purple", or, "I can't believe ya bought dat ugly car! It's K&B purple!"

KENNA - A city at the western edge of Jefferson Parish. See "Twin Spans".

LAGNIAPPE - Pronounced . A little something extra. Lagniappe is when your butcher gives you a pound and two ounces of hot sausage but only charges you for a pound, or when the waiter at your favorite restaurant brings you an extra dessert or something, and doesn't charge you. Lagniappe breeds good will, friendship and most importantly, return business.

LOCKA - Where you hang your clothes, analogous to the English word "closet". Example: "Mom-MAH! Where my shoes at?" "Looka in ya locka!" (See LOOKA) Occasionally spelled "locker", as if it was proper English.. Generally always used in place of the word "closet"

LOOKA - "to look". Usually accompanied by a pointing gesture. Often used as a single exclamation: "Looka!" Sometimes used to describe an attractive female: "Bra, she's a looka!"

MAKE GROCERIES, MAKIN' GROCERIES - To do grocery shopping.. Thought to have originated with the French expression for grocery shopping, "faire le marché". The verb "faire" can mean either "to do" or "to make", and the idiom may hav e been mistranslated.

MAW-MAW - Ya grandma.

MET-TREE - An unincorporated area of Jefferson Parish abutting Orleans Parish. Spelled "Metairie".

MUFFULETTA - A quintessential New Orleans Italian sancwich, of ham, Genoa salami, mortadella, Provolone cheese and marinated olive salad on a round seeded Italian loaf. Invented at Central Grocery on Decatur in da Qu arter. Locals pronounce this , and will tend to just abbreviate it as "muff". But if you ask a member of the Tusa family (the proprietors of Central), they'll pronounce it in elegantly proper Italian as .

NEUTRAL GROUND - The grassy or cement strip in the middle of the road. The terms "median" and/or "island" are NEVER used in New Orleans . Use of one of those foreign terms instead of "neutral ground" is a dead giveaway that you ain't from around here, or anywhere close. If you're lucky, you live on a street with a neutral ground big enough to play football on.

NEW ORLEENS / NEW AWLENS - The way silly tourists pronounce " New Orleans ". Natives DO NOT do this. Exception -- song lyrics, as in "Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans", for example, and when omitting the "New", as in "Orleans Parish", which is always pronounced.

NORT SHOWA - The north shore of Lake Pontchartrain, covering the towns of Mandeville, Covington and Slidell. Where many New Orleanian's kids and grandkids now live.

NUTTINONIT - A po-boy that is not dressed, which only contains the main ingredient(s).

OIL - Man's name. In the rest of the country: "Earl". "Oil changed da earl in my caw" makes perfect sense to a New Orleanian.

ON DA WES' BANK, ACROSS DA RIVUH - On the West Bank of the Mississippi River, where such places as Algiers , Gretna and Marrero lie. Interestingly, the W est Bank is due south of New Orleans (except for Algiers , of course). Make sense? Thought not.

OR WHAT - Pronounced, and placed at the end of a question: "You gonna finish eatin' dat, 'r what?"

OVA BY - A general replacement for the prepo sitions "at" and "to", particularly when referring to someone's home, or a destination in general. "Where ya goin'?" "Ova by ma mamma's. "

PARRAINE - Your godfather.

PASS BY - To stop at a place, for a visit or to accomplish something. "Ya gonna be home later? I'll pass by ya house." It doesn't mean just to drive by in your car and keep going ...

PEE-CAN - A nut indigenous to the South, and beloved in New Orleans as an ingredient in pies and pralines. Pronounced , not .

PO-BOY - The quintessential New Orleans lunch, a sandwich on good, crispy New Orleans French bread. We put anything and everythig on a po boy.

PODNA - A form of address for men, usually for ones with whom one is not acquainted. Frequently used in the emphatic statement, "I tell you what, podna ..."

SCHWAGMANN'S BAG - A unit of measurement. Approximately 3 cubic feet. Derived from local icon Schwegmann Brothers Giant Supermarkets, who until recently had absolutely enormous paper bags in which they packed ya groceries. (Now they have those stup id tiny flimsy plastic bags just like everyone else.) Usage: "Hey, did ya catch a lot at da parade?" "Yeah you rite .... a whole Schwegmann bag full!" The apostrophe-s is optional.

SHOW, DA SHOW - The cinema. The movie house. The local motion picture emporium. Where works of cinemati c art (or crappy flicks, depending) are shown. True New Orleanians never say, "I went to the movies", they say "I went to da show. "

SOSSIGE - A meat preparation, made of various kinds of ground meats, seafood and spices, stuffed into a casing. Usually spelled "sausage" by English speakers, but pronounced in New Orleans as you see here, always and not .

SUCK DA HEAD, SQUEEZE DA TAIL - The technique for eating crawfish. If you've never done this, have someone demonstrate.

SHUG-A - A term of endearment used primarily by Yat females. Pronoucned with a soft "oo" as in "book".

TO'WADS DA LAKE - Any northerly direction, towards Lake Pontchartrain.

TO'WADS DA RIVAH- Generally a southerly direction, towards the Mississippi River. On the West Bank it can mean north, east and west as well.

TURLET - Ya standard flushable porcelain waste disposal unit found in every bat'troom, referred to by English speakers as a "toilet".

DA TWIN SPANS - Depending on contect, either one of the two long pair Interstate-10 bridges leading to New Olreans. The western ones lead from Laplace to Kenner ("Kenna"), and the eastern set goes from New Olreans East to Slidell. The Causeway is never referred to as a 'Twin Span".

VIOLATION - A person from Violet, Louisiana , in St. Bernard Parish.

WHERE YA STAY (AT)? - Where do you live?

WHERE Y'AT! - The traditional New Orleanian greeting, and the source for the term "Yat", often used (primarily by non-New Orleanians, it is said) to describe New Orleanians with the te lltale accent. The proper response is, "Awrite. "

UP DA ROAD - Same as down da road, only now you are traveling in the opposite direction heading "up da road" to either Chalmette or Arabi.

UP-RIVA - The westward direction, toward Jefferson Parish. "Yeah, ya takes the streetcars up-riva to Camillia Grill". Opposite of "Down-Riva".

Y'ALL - The plural form of the second person verb, "you20all". It's not pronounced as they would in the south, though -- no twang, no drawl, just "y'all". "You guys" is never said.

YA - You, your.

YA MAMMA - Your mother.

YAMAMMA'N'EM - A collective term for your immediate family, as in "Hey dawlin', how's yamamma'n'em?" Spoken as one word.

YAT - A native, often blue-collar, with a New Olreans accent. Often used as a term of derision by Uptowners: "Oh Edward, Buffy is dating a... Yat!" "Yat" can also be used as a descriptor for anyone from "Met-tree" or "Kenna".

YEAH YA RITE - An emphatic statement of agreement and affirmation, sometimes used as a general exclamation of happiness. The accent is on the first word, and it's spoken as one word.

ZATA-RANS - Pronounced . A local manufacturer of spices, seasonings, pickled products and condiments. In context, it's used by some as a generic term for either crab boil or Creole mustard, as it "Put some Zatarain's on it," or "T'row a coupla bags o' Zatarain's in da pot." Context is important here; you don't want to put Creole mustard in a seafood boil.


Charlie Sutton said...

I first heard "for 2:00" (or other time, depending) here in central New England shortly after I arrived in the early 90's. I can understand, "I have an appointment for 2:00," but "I have to be there for 2:00" baffles me. Maybe it somehow comes out of the heavy French Canadian influence around here. The Acadians (Cajuns) were transported out of eastern Quebec in the 1700's, so there could be a French influence in both areas.

Undergroundpewster said...

You left out "Cold Drink" meaning Coke/Pepsi/Barqs/or Big Shot Creme Soda.