Armagideon Time

Just so ya know, kid

April 1st, 2016

This is a tricky one. Forty-four years of utter immersion and infrequent travel have put me in a place where I don’t realize something is a regionalism until a non-New Englander points it out to me.

I was familiar enough with the limited geographic reach of terms like “bubbler” (water fountain) or “elastic” (rubber band) or “tonic” (carbonated soft drinks), as they inevitably come up whenever someone starts gabbing about the local dialect.

The use of “bullshit” to describe being extremely angry, though? (“His bullshit drove me bullshit.”) Didn’t realize it wasn’t universal until a few short years ago.

Ditto for “dungarees” (jeans), “the balls” (denoted something amazing, as in “that dinner was the balls”), “bureau” (dresser), or “having a field day” (to run wild with an opportunity) — all of which see frequent enough use in my daily speech.

“The cat had a field day napping on my dungarees next to the bureau. She thought they were the balls. I was so bullshit.”

Throw in a thick non-rhotic accent and it’s a miracle anyone understands what I’m saying at all — and that’s not even taking into account the many old folks-isms (“the berries,” “snazzy,” “creeping Moses”) I’ve picked up from being being partly raised by my maternal grandmother and the Irish-isms I’ve picked up from Maura’s immigrant (West Cork and Sligo) parents.

I rarely if ever use “pissah,” though I will drop a “wikkid” or two on occasion.

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11 Responses to “Just so ya know, kid”

  1. sallyp

    Wait a minute… these aren’t just the usual forms of speech? They are considered… oddities? Well slap me silly. I may just have to have a grinders and a soda and think about it.

  2. Matty.s

    Interesting here in the u.k I would imagine it odd to be asked for a rubber band, but would think everyone would understand what an elastic band is, also having a field day is defiantly everyday parlance.
    Local to me (Northamptonshire u.k) you could expect to be referred to as me duck (a term of endearment)
    A sentence of local dialect could go something like this
    Where you going me duck?
    I’m just putting on ganzie and going up field to walk dug.
    Or to translate :- where are you going?
    I’m putting on my jumper and am going to take the dog for a walk in the fields.

  3. Mike Loughlin

    I’m from Brockton. We used most of NewEnglandisms you list (we called soda “soda,” but older Brocktonians used “tonic.” pronounced “taawnic”) and we had one more that might have only been used within my generation: “quare.” Everyone in my elementary school & jr high used “quare” to mean “weird and/or stupid.” I didn’t realize it was a corruption of “queer” for years.

    We also used “dry” the same way, but I don’t know if that was a regional thing or not. In fact, it might have only been restricted to my immediate peer group.

  4. DensityDuck

    “Hamburg” for ground beef, leading to stores selling “hamburg rolls”.

    Similarly, a Kaiser roll being called a “bulkie”.

  5. Matty.s

    As a kid growing up in the eighties in the u.k we would have called soda a fizzy drink or pop and this would’ve been delivered to our house by the SHE drinks man, SHE drinks being a company locally that had a POP factory.
    They sold the best fizzy lemon and lime and raspberryade I’ve ever had.
    Also locally Hock and Dough a sort of dish made of pastry,meat,potatoes,gravy and onions,basically all the leftovers.
    Delicious my mum makes a mean one.

  6. Bill the Splut

    A friend who lives equidistant from Boston and Providence was in line at Disney World in Florida. A man from the UK asked “Are you from New England?”
    “Yes! How did you know?”
    “You described this ride as ‘wicked awesome.’”
    I used to ironically call things “wicked retahded” all Bostony, but from hanging out with her, I use “wicked” all the time, not realizing I have until I’ve said it.

    Bill Griffith of the strip “Zippy the Pinhead” moved here to Connecticut, and once did a strip with a retail clerk asking “Are you all set?” (bolding his), and I realized what a CT thing that is. It means “Are you ready to be rung up?” But when someone says “No, I have not been rung up yet,” it throws us.

    For some reason, here Long Island is pronounced “Lawn Guyland.” Also, it is objectively a FAUCET, why would you call it a tap, crimeny.
    I am also the last person on Earth to use the non-swear word “crimeny.”

  7. Matty.s

    Often find myself saying gosh and crikey in conversation, too many British comics and war films.
    People look at you gone out for sounding like a modern day Bertie Wooster.

  8. bitterandrew

    Bill:

    “All set” is another perfect example where I didn’t realize it wasn’t universal until we got a work memorandum forbidding us to use it because it confuses out-of-state and international clients. Kinda stupid, because it’s pretty obviously an abbreviation of “all set to go.”

    The snotty shits who write into the Globe’s language column HATE “all set,” which makes me want to use it all the more.

  9. Bill the Splut

    Matty.s, in New England, we pronounce the name as “Bernie Wooster,” but spell it “Bernie Worcester.” And then we complain about when Spag’s closed.
    Spag’s was this department store with a Mussolini-styled statue of Spag at the front door, and where the toy aisles had endcaps of rat poison. No, really. Do you want kids? TOYS! Do you NOT want kids?…hmmm…

    One stop shopping…

  10. Sniffnoy

    Yeah I also don’t think “having a field day” is quite so regional as that. It’s a familiar phrase to me, if not one I’d actually use, and I’m from New Jersey originally but have been living in the Midwest the past 10 years or so.

  11. Eric L

    Hey, I’m from Brockton, too. “That’s dry” is a turn of phrase I haven’t even thought of in years, but it was definitely a common expression back then.

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