Friday, September 7, 2012

When In Rome…A Lesson on Learning the “Language”

   When I first moved to New England, I didn’t expect that there would be many differences between Massachusetts and Michigan. After all, both states are in the northern/northeastern part of the country, they are in the same time zone, and have similar weather patterns. What could be that different? Little did I know that I would discover MANY differences between the two states. The geography was different, the people were different, the houses were different, the way of living was different, the attitudes towards the environment were different, the list could go on and on of the differences. But one difference I wasn’t expecting was the slang or terms that people say. I really had to adjust some of the words I was using and get used too the new terms I was hearing. I recently asked some of my coworkers to help me create a list of popular New England terms and I tried to create my own list of “Michigander” terms. I know there must be some terms I have forgotten about, so I would love ANY feedback or additions to these lists. Without further ado, I present to you the list of New England slang I have learned!
1. Wicked=Very
2. Rotary=Traffic circle
3. Pike=Massachusetts turnpike (not the fish)
4. Tonic=Soda (Boston area specific)
5. Downstreet=City
6. Sneakers=Running shoes, basketball shoes
7. Bubbler=Water fountain that you drink from
8. Jimmies=Chocolate sprinkles (I hear this is derogatory and not used much any more)
9. Rainbow Jimmies=Rainbow sprinkles
10. Grinder=Submarine sandwich
11. Hoodsie or Hoodsie Cup=A prepackaged cup of ice cream or sundae made by Hood (the local dairy company)
12. Frappe=Milkshake (long before McDonald’s started carrying them and coffee shops)
13. Ripper=Keg party
14. Carriage=Shopping cart
15. Tag Sale=A sale someone has at their house where they attempt to sell their old belongings for a small price
16. Soda=And soda pop beverage such as Coke, Pepsi, etc.
17. Pocketbook=Purse
18. Packy or Packie=Short for the Package Store which is where liquor and beer are sold because they aren’t sold in many of the grocery store chains (such as Stop & Shop)
19. Run to the Packy (or Packie)=Going to (the package store to) get alcohol
20. The "T"=Subway (Boston area specific)
There are also many fun ways of pronouncing words with the same meanings in both states such as:
Aunt=pronounced more like “Ont”, in Michigan we pronounce it like “Ant”
Car=pronounced in the Boston area like “Ka”
And so on…
I can’t speak for the entire state, but here are some Michigan terms (with the MA translation) that I am familiar with…for my Massachusetts peeps:
1. Pop=Soda (aka “soda pop” or any fizzy beverage such as Coke, Pepsi, etc.)
2. Purse= Pocketbook (that thing women carry on their shoulders). When people in Michigan hear “pocketbook” they usually think of it as something their 90 year old grandmother would say in reference to a wallet. Example (in an old lady voice): “Sonny, let me go grab my pocketbook to pay you for mowing my lawn.”
3. Cart=Carriage (aka Shopping cart). If you say “carriage” in Michigan, people are going to think of a horse-drawn buggy or an old fashioned baby stroller.
My grandmother in a "carriage"...although in this case it is being pulled by a goat?
4. Sub=Grinder (aka a long bun sandwich with meat and cheese). When I hear “grinder” I think of a shredded steak sandwich, not a club.
5. Sprinkles=Jimmies
6. Coney=Hot dog with chili, mustard, and onion
7. Coney Island=Any diner/restaurant (aka “greasy spoon”) that is open 24 hours which usually serves Coney dogs (although doesn’t necessarily have too). A popular spot for food once the bars close.
8. Traffic Circle/Roundabout=Rotary
9. Expressway/Freeway=Highway
10. Soda=Soda water/fizzy water
11. Garage Sale (or Yard Sale)=Tag sale
12. Vernors=Ginger ale (Vernors is a local brand in Michigan of ginger ale, so many people just refer to ALL ginger ale as Vernors)
13. “U”pper=Anyone who lives in the upper peninsula of Michigan
14. Troll=Anyone who lives in the lower peninsula of Michigan or “under the Mackinaw bridge (this term is more common in the upper peninsula)
15. “Going Up North”=Meaning "going on vacation", most likely in northern Michigan...but not necessarily
16. “Detroit”=I believe this is more of a Flint local/regional term, but it pretty much refers to any city along I75 that is south of the city of Holly. For example, many people in the Flint area refer to the city of Troy as “Detroit”, but it is actually about 22 miles from Detroit. Another example, many people say they are going to “Detroit” when they go to concerts at DTE Energy Music Theatre (or Pink Knob as it used to be called) but it is actually in Clarkston, Michigan. The people in the cities closer to Detroit don’t usually use this term unless they mean the actual city of Detroit, but I found that it is more commonly used in the Flint area to describe most cities south of Flint.
17. Deuce-Deuce=A 22 ounce bottle of beer (I thought this was common slang but the people in MA didn't know what I meant when using this reference) 
   I could go into more specific terms to specific areas of the state (such as using "Hamady Sack" in Flint in reference to a brown paper bag) but I wanted to focus more on the state as a whole.  
   So there you have it! All of the new (and old terms) I’ve had to work into my vocabulary. The New England terms I struggle with the most are the pronunciation of “Aunt”, and the terms “pocketbook” and “carriage”. Whenever I am at the grocery store and I hear the store manager ask the cashier to go collect the “carriages”, I will forever picture horse-drawn buggies. Some things you just never get used too!      

No comments:

Post a Comment