Monday, November 7, 2011

Parlez Vous New Anglais? Or As They Say Here, Rs Ah Fa Losahs

Sometimes, that's what it seems like here.
Moving to a new place requires a lot of you.

But I didn't think language acquisition would be one of them!

Yes, I have been North and I have been South and I have been West, but I find moving East to New England, the Cape and Islands in particular, and trying to understand the "slanguage" - it's a bit like, well, like being a fish out of water.

Rule #1. No ifs ands or buts: try to talk like an Islander.
I am, of course,  a "wash-ashore" - someone not born on the Island, but that doesn't preclude me from learning the language tricks of the trade, so-to-speak.

When I drive Southwest to Aquinnah, Menemsha or Chilmark, I drive "up-island" - indicating longitude markings, rather than realtime directions.
When I travel, I go "off-island."
And when I tell people where I'm from, it's "The Vinyid."

Rule #2. Conversing with people from Boston and understanding them means you have to remember, for the most part, there are no "r"s in Boston speech.
Something you drive is a "cawh."
Where you put said "cawh" is a "pawhking" lot.
And there may be a "pawhty" going on near where you "pawhk," if you are game.
If you are game, said party could be "wicked pissah." (meaning really, reeeeeally good)

Rule #2. Names for foods and drink are tricky.
If you want a sub sandwich, you order a grinder.
And buns are bulkies.
If you want a milkshake, you order a frappe not a milkshake, or you will get just that - milk and flavoring shaken.
If you want chowdah, it's the milk-based variety NEVER the tomato-based concoction.
And, if you are looking for the water fountain, ask for the "bubblah."
If it is late, and you need milk, one of the only places that stays open late is "Cumbies" (Cumberland Farms). And, if you plan on a boat-load of food, you will be putting it in a "carriage" not a cart.

Rule #3. State-related language is also approved here.
If you are so inclined, getting into a fight here in New England is confusing.
You could "whale" on a person, but if arrested and put into a "cruiser" by possibly a "Statie," you might eventually become a "wicked losah."

And honestly, if you go "off-island" to "The Cape" and drive any real distance, it's almost as if you can't drive legitimately if you don't cut off people, use no blinker, drive at speeds that approach the speed of light and have no patience "whatsoevah" for other drivers on the road. For that you earn the name, "Masshole." :)

See what I mean? Am I even in America, lol?

I'm not sure why all these expressions cropped up, but I'm betting, like everything else here, it probably all began, like it does everywhere else, with the weather.

It's cold, you're snowbound, people didn't travel like they do nowadays. So being stuck in one place, with a lack of a lot of outside language influences, you can't continue to say, "hand me the thingy over there by the whatchamacallit." So Voila! a local expression is born.

As for me, being the new kid on the block, I will play it "wicked smaht," listen intently when Yankees speak and remember two things:

When it doubt, lose the "R." And....

Have a wicked pissah day. :)


  1. Haahaha wicked funny!!!! Glad ur back!
    We have a lingo here too. "I'm goin down Johnnie's" means I'm getting groceries. "I'm goin to a time down the Knights" means there's a party/dance/function at the Knight's of Columbus. Oh and the girls around here (over the age of thirty) call their jeans "dungarees".

  2. Or, as we say up here - "Feah the hoodie!" Don't forget goin' to the packie, and that the "Lower Cape" is P-Town, and the "Upper Cape" is Falmouth.

    Good one!

  3. Omg, you two, these are GREAT! I will have to do a follow-up someday lol. Seriously, it is one I never even gave a thought about, but I love each and every phrase and marvel at how ingenious the phrases and meanings are. Yankees are masters of invention!

  4. Great post! So very enjoyable! Missed you dear but you're back with bang!

  5. Thanks for looking in! I was sick. Feeling better now.