Thursday, February 28, 2008

Vernacular

I have been participating in a great post at Undercover Black Man about Black slang words. The post is basically asking readers to think of words that have been used in the Black community that have made their way into the larger culture.

Black slang originally was a way for African Americans to communicate without being understood by Whites. This was vital during the time that African Americans were enslaved and afterword during the Jim Crow era.

Now most Black slang eventually makes its way into the mainstream. Mostly this happens through music and film. Some examples of those words are; dissed, Micky D's in place of McDonald's restaurant, crib, holla, dog, cheese and 5-0.

Other slang black slang words are that haven't quite yet made it to the larger culture are fiftyleven, hyphy, hella or hecka.

Then there is Black British slang with words like criss, which means everything is cool or okay. It doesn't seem that Black British slang makes its way to the U.S. very often.

It also occurred to me that there are White slang words that have made there way into popular culture. Words like dude, which can refer to a man or woman. Then there is dork and nerd. Also words like totally, duh and what - ever, which are Valley Girl slang words.

The amazing thing about slang is that once most slang words work their way into the mainstream, such as being heard in advertisements for corporations, they usually die out in the communities that they originated in.




Can you think of slang words that have not made it to the mainstream?


How many mainstream slang words can you list?


What slang word(s) do you use?




20 comments:

Blackgirl On Mars said...

Yeah but when we put it here--it's out in the open!
Some things we gotta keep to ourselves: Keep it sacred.
This culture is built on us--and they keep taking it and exploiting it and making the dough on it...
Good venture though.

12kyle said...

The word "shawty". I don't know where it came from but it has been perfected here in Atlanta. If you've ever been here, then chances are you've been called "shawty" before. LOL. Doesn't matter if you're male or female. If you're a female, you've prolly been called "shawty" followed by a reference to your skin color. You know.... "shawty red...shawty brown...or shawty white." And if you're a 30+ year old woman and there's a guy who wants to speak to you he'll probably call you "Miss Shawty". LOL

The first time i heard the word was when I was in college. It came from one of my best friends. And he was from Atlanta. LOL

PCD (Pretty Circle Drawer) said...

ooooooooh, fun questions. i have never used 50/11 (what is this?), hyphy, hella or hecka. i think "buggin" is one that has sort of trickled into mainstream. i use that one

Ensayn said...

I think one of the most post widely accepted slang words that made it into the mainstream is an expression that originated as far I know in the late 1980's out of Los Anegles, is 24/7 or as they said twenny fo seven...LOL There was a bank in San Diego at the time that was one of the first banks to push the use of ATM's by providing a phone next to the ATM in which you could pick it up and it would connect you directly with a customer service agent if you had any ATM issues. They used to use the logo of 7/24 but the LA people flipped it to 24/7. There is another Jamaican slang word I think is widely used in the mainstream, which is 'bigup'. I can say depending to whom I'm speaking I will use quite a bit of slang or even change my tone when speaking to someone back home in SoCal. The people in SoCal tend to speak with a bit of harshness in their tone, that's not really used here in the ATL. I had a similar conversation with a Nigerian friend of mine who had lived in SoCal and he also noticed that people in SoCal speak really roughly but without negative intention and he said Nigerians are known for this same type of harshness in the way they speak as well. We both agreed Jamaicans speak roughly, in a tough tone without negative intention as well. Have you noticed a difference in tonality in various parts of the U.S., Caribbean or other parts of the world?

Ensayn said...

12Kyle, when first moved from Cali to the ATL I was walking through 5 points, if you have been to the ATL or live here you know where 5 points is downtown and a guy said to me "hey shawty what time is it?? I got hella mad (hella Northen Cali slang) and looked as him as if he was straight crazy, cause back in Cali we understood the New Yorkers when they said "shorty" they were talking about a female or a child so I was pissed for a minute until I learned here in the "A" like you said it meant male or female...LOL

Tami said...

Will someone revoke my black card for not knowing what the hell fiftyleven or hyphy mean? (lol)

Great post, MDC! I used to have a slang dictionary that was a fun read. Wonder where that is...

12kyle said...

@ ensayn
I've been in Atlanta for 11 years now and I've come to realize that you'll hear that word anywhere you go in this city. From 5 points to the white suburbs (yes...the white kids call themselves shawty, too). And if you ever get on the train...you'll hear it every minute. LOL

@PCD
Fiftyleven (50/11)is a southern term (i think) that means multiple times. For example...I can say..."she called me fiftyleven times." I think its a southern term b/c I've never heard it from anyone who wasn't from the South.

Lady Di said...

Oh yes, Ms SlangAlang herself. And her we go:

Ghettofabulous (it's ghetto and fabulus)

GhetHerFabulous (it's Her Ghetto faubulous)

Shawty (is a person here in MD, any person)

Fiddyeleven - is like 8:03 said

trippin' - freakin' out, actiin' silly/crazy/etc.

church, chuuch and cherch (Cali slang)

razzledazzle/razzledazzle it - atcing/being/doing crazy things

shizzle mah nizzle - Cali slang

Fo shizzle - Cali Slang

Waz crackin' - Cali slang (greeting)

Wuzzup - what's up/ what's happenin'

word - old slang to be in agreement or asking 'are you serious'

testify - to say it

dawg - male

get at me - get back to a person

chirp me/ just chirpin' - two way device slang

lemme holla atcha or holla atcha girl/boy - respond

bangin' - depend on usage - a sex act or something is nice

wicked - Caribbean word for nice

straight - as in ok

And there's hecka lot more but I'm gonna go chill now.

Audi - (to leave)

SheCodes said...

I think that the word 'crib' was a revisitation a previous meaning of the word 'crib' -- which was a shack that was meant for prostitution?

I use:

"hot mess"= a terrible state of affairs

"wha, wha, wha?"= "Are you crazy? What did you say? Imma slap you!"

"sho' nuff"= Sure enough.

"Grill"=Teeth. (My favorite slang. But I use a very proper speech pattern to add irony to it. "Why is that tender young lad always up in my grill? I could be his mother!"



I noticed that a lot of people are using "Crunk" = When something cranked up to the highest level, it can't be cranked anymore, it's then becomes 'crunk'.

I hope that they don't mean "crunk" as in "crazy" + "drunk"

Ensayn said...

@Lady Di, shizzle mah nizzle, fo shizzle and all that coming out of Cali, but on the real its from the way Crips talk and it kinda took over the world, if you remember Elephant Man, dancehall artist out of Jamaica came out with a Fa shizzle mah nizzle song saying it was taking over the island. Kinda the way Rastas have their way of speaking. Now this is not an endorsement or support for gang life just information about that.
@12Kyle...LOL on MARTA e'day...LOL

Lady Di said...

ensayn - oooooooooh, I never knew that at all. Thanks for the ebonislangcation. CUL Oh, yeah, I know SOME patois.

Oh, here's some more:

blast - to call someone out LOUDLY

pimplicious, pimpocity, pimpettique,
pimpetification, pimpolicious, pimperish, pimpified - you get the point and can figure the meanings

ish - for sh*t

up on mine/this - standing too close

naptural - natural hair, no perm

tasha212 said...

Ok here is some slang that I use regularly:

Trippin'
rockin'- as in wearing
col' drink- as in soda
a hot mess
dime piece- as in perfect ten

I think that once the mainsttream starts using the slang, then it looses its authenticity. I like the idea of different culures have words that are uniquely theirs.

Mes Deux Cents said...

Hi Blackgirl on Mars,

I agree; rap music has really exposed a lot of cultural things that corporate America has made a fortune on.
_____________________________________

12Kyle,

Lmao@ Miss Shawty

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PCD,

Hyphy is a party word. People say let's get hyphy, which means let's party.

Hecka and hecka are used the same way. An example would be; that guy is hecka stupid. Which means he is very stupid.

Buggin' is a good one.
___________________________________

Ensayn,

Wow thanks for that. I had no idea where 24/7 came from!

___________________________________

Tami,

Lol, see the definitions I gave PCD above.

___________________________________

Lady Di,

Fo shizzle has definatly gone mainstream.

___________________________________

SheCodes,

Lol@grill usage. Crunk has definatly been co-opted.
___________________________________

Lady Di,

Naptural is a grat one. I don't think that one is going to go mainstream! Lol
___________________________________


Tasha,

Trippin' is still ours I think. I'm surprised that hasn't gone mainstream yet.
___________________________________
___________________________________
___________________________________

Anonymiss said...

"Mad" as in "a lot". For instance that CNBC show Mad Money and that new flick Mad Money with Latifah and Katie Holmes.

Mes Deux Cents said...

Hi Anonymiss,

That's a great one!

_____________________________________
_____________________________________

theblackactor.com said...

Tee hee hee.

I memba "hella."

That's so California.

Lady Di said...

True MDC, I'm just typing stuff I can think of and/or used so here we go again:

illin' - crazy, funny

sick - not the medical kind but the mental kind and fun (I hope)

wack - not good

juice - not real juice but any drink even alcohol

spliff - Jamaican term

shizznit - no clue really Cali slang??

runtelldat - gossip or snitch

twisted - "don't get it twisted" as in don't confuse/mess up things

whaddup - Jamaican for what's up

fo really do(ugh) - for real new fangled

bush/bushes - too much underarm hair ORRRRRRRRRR...... (laughs)

hot ghetto mess - bad looking female

ghetto hotness - good looking female

burbs - mixed Suburbs

burbia - white suburbs

Ensayn said...

@Lady Di, Shizznit is shit, again crip talk...LOL SoCal orignal for real born and raised!!!
:-)

Mes Deux Cents said...

Lady Di,

That's a good list! Wack has totally crossed over.

Lady Di said...

ensayn - oooooooooooh. And I guess you've figured out by now what coast I'm from. CUL

Mes - do acronyns, pweeeze!!

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About Me

West Coast, United States
African American, Poet?, Vegetarian, Music lover, Agoraphobic, Social Phobic

My Favorite Poet

My Favorite Poet
Staceyann Chin

My Favorite Track Athlete

My Favorite Track Athlete
Christine Arron