We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Monday, December 14. 2015
For several years, she insisted this was a saying that was distinctly Philadelphian in nature. This seems to have been confirmed when we were speaking with several friends of ours who were from Philly and she asked "do you know what the back way means?" They all nodded and the conversation then revolved around how "the back way" is defined.
Every region has some kind of slang. In California, it seems every highway has "the" in front of it. "The 405 to the 10 to the 110" was one set of directions I used whenever I was visiting clients. Visiting Boston College, I learned not to order milkshakes or subs, but frappes and grinders.
Being from Philadelphia, it took me years to stop asking for hoagies and asking after "youse guys", but I still go "down the shore" (another phrase which drives my wife nuts - living on Long Island, she always went to the beach and despite the beach being south of her, she "went to the beach"), and "Yo" is still part of my vocabulary.
For my wife, the torture of the regional slang is only made worse by the fact I've managed to convince both my boys to enjoy certain foodstuffs, like the Philly Cheesesteak (we take ours 'wit' - never 'witout') and Taylor Pork Roll (technically a NJ thing, but a staple down the shore). Of course, neither has succumbed to my great longing for Habbersett's Scrapple, the mere mention of which causes her nose to wrinkle in disgust.
What slang and/or foods do our readers enjoy wherever they are?
Display comments as (Linear | Threaded)
My Jersey wife has a regional food story - she was traveling in Virginia in the '80's, ordered a burger on a hard roll. The puzzled waitress served her a burger on an old hamburger bun, said "Sorry, honey, it's the hardest one we had back there."
I bet you run into a ton of that when you visit the South; especially Georgia.
I wonder how many of your readers know what a "stob" is.
Or realize that "y'all" is singular. "all y'all" is plural.
Or the difference between a "Yankee" and a "Damn Yankee".
I'm near Cincinnati which has its own set of slang etc. but lately I've noticed that habit of adding "the" to road names appearing. For some reason many of the local traffic and news announcers have started using "the" or sometimes "your" along with a non-standard road or landmark name. I find it both irritating and briefly confusing... where exactly is a traffic back up "on your Beard" ?
I grew up in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula not far from where many of my relatives lived on the Keweenaw Peninsula (that big “arm” that juts out into Lake Superior) which is also known as the Copper Country. The Cornish were, predictably, a big part of the underground, hard rock copper mining and where the Cornish went there were pasties.
Pasties are baked pastries made by placing an uncooked filling, typically meat and vegetables, on one half of flat shortcrust circles, folding the crusts to wrap the filling in semicircles, and crimping the curved edges to form a seal before baking. Their name is pronounced with a short 'a' (pass-tee) rather than the common error of using a long 'a' (pay-stee) as in the stripper's accessory.
The Finnish wound up dominating the local population, though, and showed no shame in adopting the pasty as their own and I grew up thinking that pasties were a Finnish invention. My aunts and grandmothers made as many as 100 pasties each fall once it was cold enough to use a secured spot in a garage or barn to keep them frozen. My folks, who had moved to the “big city” (Marquette), bought a freezer when I was about 6 years old and its first load was my mother’s initial effort at mass pasty production. This meant that we didn’t have to eat them all before the thaw, but we usually did anyway!
Today, everywhere in the UP but especially from Copper Harbor to Escanaba along US Hwy 41 and then along the north shore of Lake Michigan on US Hwy 2 there are many restaurants and road houses with signs consisting of the single word, “Pasty,” typically in red letters on a white background.
Finally, the pasty is a big part of how I wound up in California's Nevada County, the heart of the 1849 gold rush. I’m an engineer and my first job after graduating from Michigan Tech was at a TV station. This led to knowledge of a company named Grass Valley Group to which I applied for employment. I flew out to interview and drove around Grass Valley and Nevada City the evening before. Imagine my surprise when I found out that the Cornish Cousins had been here for the gold minig and that their trademark meal was readily available! I got the job and knowing that there would be pasties made in much easier to leave the UP and move more than 2000 miles from my family.
Or the difference between a "Yankee" and a "Damn Yankee".
IIRC, a Damn Yankee is one who stays. Which reminds me of different regional definitions of Yankee.
Outside the US, a Yankee is anyone from the US- a definition which wouldn't go over well with Southerners, I imagine.
South of the Mason Dixon Line, a Yankee is anyone from north of the Mason Dixon line, but especially someone from New England.
In New England, a Yankee is anyone whose family is "old stock," whose ancestors resided in New England before 1800. While I was born and raised in New England, my WASP parents were not considered Yankees, because they moved to New England from "away." I was not considered a Yankee, because my parents were not Yankees. By this definition, most New Englanders are not Yankees, due to extensive immigration from other countries and migration from other parts of the US since 1800.
I remember reading years ago a Letter to the Editor in the Houston Chronicle which complained about "Yankees who eat chopped liver." I laughed when I read this, because back in New England, the group most readily associated with chopped liver- Jewish people from New York City- would never be considered Yankees back in New England.
The only place in the world I am not considered a Yankee is back in my native New England.
Standing on line in NYC......even more confusing to the uninitiated with the more expansive use of the term in the last 30-40 years, " I was on-line at the supermarket."
Putting "the" in front of freeways is southern California (LA) slang. Nobody in northern California would say it that way. We just use the number ("I'll take 101 to the airport").
"The back way" in the parts of the South I have lived in means "not the highway/interstate/main drag". "You went 49 to I-20? It'd been quicker to take the back way, there ain't no traffic. Mostly I have noticed non'Southerners don't know the difference in barbecue, grillin' and a cookout. BBQ is a type of food and how it is prepared (but not cooking), grillin' is cooking outside, and a cookout is when you get a bunch of folks coming over to eat and guests usually bring sides. Smoking is not grilling. Usually you get the meat off the smoker and get it ready afore folks come over.
New Orleans, we don't have "slang" - we have a whole different way of speaking English. "On da nutrl grounds by My-lan." Is actually a geographical location we understand.
The gradual narrowing of who is a Yankee is part of a joke up here, that ends with "And if you're a rural native in northern New England, a 'Yankee' is someone who has pie for breakfast."
Grew up in Chicago, live in California now.
Chicagoese is pretty we'll caricatured and documented, as is the Chicago hot dog, but my favorite local delicacy is the Italian Beef sandwich, or "beef".
Its thin sliced beef, roasted with plenty of garlic & Italian seasonings, piled high in a soft Italian roll and drowned in the au jus the sliced beef floats in until its served.
Its topped with either sweet roasted bell peppers, Italian giardinera, pickled jalapeños, or any combination of the above.
Hours long arguments go on over who makes the best, but I've never had a bad one.
MMmmmmm....:"beefs" ....now I'm hungry.
A friend of a friend was raised in the Boston area. He visited the Midwest with a friend. They went from restaurant to restaurant asking for grinders (subs/hoagies), arriving in a Chinese restaurant as a last resort. The manager looked oddly at FOAF when asked for grinders, but said they had them. The manager showed FOAF and Friend into the kitchen and gestured to the prep table where several meat grinders were clamped. Friend and FOAF had a time explaining their request.
Pork roll, a fried egg, and a slice of cheese on a toasted English - there is no better breakfast!
Oh, and those long sandwiches have been, are, and will always be "hoagies." No other name is correct.
Don't forget the - "Iggles" who just beat the Patriots and Bills.
Then we have the Mummer's who march on Broad Street on New Years Day come from "Two Street" in South Philly which is between Second and Third Street....
I beg to disagree. "Y'all" is never properly singular, being derived from "Ye" as opposed to "Thee" (this is 40+ years of central Alabamian talking). "All y'all" is generally the preface to further instruction and is directed toward a group (defined as 3 or more) as in, "all y'all best move on along or there's going to be trouble." We also use the term "back way" as well to describe shortcuts or less well traveled routes.
Ah! the perfect person to ask about this. Being from New England I refer to all highways by their Route number - Route 1, Route 128, etc. Out here everyone uses the generic 'Highway' before the number. Is there a reason for that? Is it just to differentiate roads from the East Coast?
And yes, being married to a SoCal guy, I now use 'the' before naming the highway. Oh, well.
The other slang I still use is 'door yard', a Vermont term which refers roughly to the space of land between the back door and the beginning of the driveway; the immediate area off the back porch.
I've always used the term 'the back way' - I thought it was a fairly universal phrase. But, given that my parents grew up in Northern NJ near PA - Easton/Allentown/Bethlehem/ perhaps that's why I use it.
My Georgia cousins eat supper at dinnertime, not dinner. Dinner is lunch. And they don't "save" money, they "poke it back."
Ditto on the pasty. And as you know, a native of the Upper Pennisula is a Yooper...made famous by the "Yoopers"--a musical group/band from Ishpeming...I'm sure you know them. I also went to Michigan Tech and I did stay in the mining business all my career--just not in Michigan. When I was at Tech the college students were called Toots (derogatory for engineers) and the locals were the Makis. I still have a soft spot for the UP.
As a native of Southeast Texas (Beaumont/Port Arthur) pretty much right on the TX/Louisiana border, I still use the term "Soda Water" for soft drinks. Of course, we also use the plural,"y'all." However, when we bought a farm and moved 9 hours north to the Arkansas Ozarks two years ago, we were surprised to find that certain of the really authentic locals use the term "You'uns" instead of "y'all" as the plural for "you" (more than one). As I reviewed this comment prior to posting, I noticed having used "pretty much" as a modifier above. Likewise, we use "pretty" as a modifier for "good" to mean "good but not great." We also still use the term "fixin' to" (meaning "about to" or "getting ready to").
I thought that was "having cheese on his pie for breakfast." Perhaps I was misinformed.
Having lived in central Texas for the last 19 years I still can't get used to calling a pond a tank, as in stock tank.
A fun post Bulldog, with amusing and interesting comments.
I lived in Kansas over 30 years ago and I was struck by the fact that they always said the highway number first, as in '61 Highway' instead of 'Highway 61'.
Mrs feeblemind, being a southern California girl, wants to call our interstate 'the 80' but no one calls it that here. It is simply 'the interstate' or 'I-80'.
My last boss in corporate America was from the Texas panhandle. I'll never forget the first time he offered to buy me a can of pop. He stood by the machine and said, "Can I buy you a coke?" and I said, "Yes." He replied, "What kind? They got root beer Dr. Pepper, 7-UP and Coca-Cola."
I always thought a coke was a coke but down there it is slang for pop.
"Coke" also is the generic term for "soft drink," but my best understanding is that "Coke" means soft drinks across a large swath of Texas, but "soda water" means soft drink only in southeast Texas. If I'm wrong about that, somebody let me know, however.
"The back way" is a common expression in northern Indiana, also.
In Wisconsin; you drink water out of a bubbler and throw pennies into a fountain.
drinking fountains are bubblers
We use back way to refer to least traveled route
A leaker is someone who is not reliable --
At the office, on your own birthday you bring treats for your colleagues
I work at a university in Texas, and a former president from the Midwest didn't know what was meant by "tump" as in "tump over."
Originally from Long Island, but have been gone for nearly 40 years. Every once in a while, my New York comes out. It does drive me slightly crazy when I see media refer to "IN Long Island", not "ON Long Island", but that's probably the same for many people from...an island. We had subs and soda. I'd die for a knish and a real bagel. Oh, and New York Style pizza. The kind where you fold it in half and the grease goes running down your arm!
Lived in Southern California for quite a few years (off and on, thanks to Uncle Sam), so learned the "THE 5" thing a long time ago.
In North Carolina, I'm pretty sure I lived "down east" (unlike the Down East in Maine - never lived there). Went to more than a few "pig pickin's".
Been in eastern Missouri for the last 15 years. Here, being called a "hoosier" has NOTHING to do with being from Indiana, and it is not a compliment. They make Toasted Ravioli here (ravioli that has been covered with bread crumbs then baked or fried lightly), and I do love me some Concretes (frozen custard, usually mixed with your choice of additional items - my favorite at the local, "world famous on Old Route 66" place is called a Cardinal Sin, with chocolate syrup and cherries mixed in). The Saint Louis Style Pizza - mmmph. It's a thin crust, more like cardboard then a bread product. There is a local place that makes "New York Style" pizza that is actually pretty good.
I found it interesting when visiting friends in Texas, that when you ask "How far is it?" to a given destination, they don't reply in distance, but in time.
Instead of "It's about 15 miles from here" they would reply "It's about 15-minutes from here."
No one has ever told me "It's 800 miles across Texas" They usually say "It will take you at least an entire day to cross Texas."
I suspect that's because the concept of distance is more difficult to comprehend than the concept of time. Or it's just a better way to brag about how big Texas is! :-)
I was always told that Houston to El Paso was about 3 six-packs and Houston to Dallas was about 2.
Your remark about pie for breakfast reminded me of a link a recent MF Commenter George Putnam provided us. It's Yankees All the Way Down.
The one thing I know about the South is "Well, bless your heart" is a backhanded compliment, closer to insult than anything else.
Well, the furthest north I've been is San Fran, and I was told to take "the 1" to Monterey, whereas "the 101" was an inland route. Admittedly, 280 was not "the 280", but I still got enough of "the" to make the connection...
Whenever anyone in my family goes anywhere, we will usually ask "How did you get here? Did you go the back way?" Obviously "the back way" is a shortcut or some alternative route which allows you to avoid traffic or other roadblocks that typically occur on the commonly used roads.
I am not familiar with using "back way," but in the part of New England where I am from, "back roads" were used to describe less-traveled rural roads. These were town roads without a State or US Route number, without a median stripe.
"Toot" derives from most MTU students being engineers and engineers drive trains and trains go "Toot-toot." I never felt that "Toot" was derogatory. Maybe because I grew up with the term as my father and his brother both attended and several family members sometimes refered to them as "Toots."
Growing up in Michigan we have both "back roads" which are usually unpaved or rarely used roads (sometimes just seasonal two-track like roads), and I've also used (and have heard it uses) "back way" which just means an alternative route (usually only know to locals) from the most commonly accepted and trafficked route.
And whether you drink pop or soda depends roughly on which side on the Wisconsin River you live on. East it's soda, west it's pop.
The back way just means you didn't come down the main drag.
If you want to sound like a local, there's no "l" in Muhwakee.
You can still get beat up in any sports bar by announcing "Kramer jumped!" or more recently, "Dez made the catch".
The taboo against ketchup on a bratwurst is lessening, but every body knows stadium sauce is still best.
Of course in Joisey we go down the Shore as well :)
and it may be Taylor Ham from Sea Bright on north but it's pork roll south of that
Around Philly/south Jersey it's Water Ice. Other places it seems to be Italian Ice.
And of course it's S/south Jersey, not southern New Jersey.
And it's a hoagie. Other-named similar sandwiches are merely pretenders.
Also, for south Jersey and around Philly, rural roads, especially narrow ones without lane markings, were cow paths.
Around Austin, Tx, when I moved there in the middle '60s, the Interstate was referred to as IH-35, not I-35. IH was Interregional Highway, not Interstate Highway.
Absolutely true. English has the same pronoun for both singular and plural second person - sometimes confusing. Southerners solved this by using "you" for singular and "you all" or "y'all" for plural.
I know whereof I speak. :) My family has lived in the South since the 17th century, as they were French Huguenots who immigrated here in the 1670's.
Partly true - if you say, "Well, bless your heart," it generally means, "I can't think of a polite response to what you have just said, because it really wouldn't be polite to call you a blithering idiot or a complete jackass."
HOWEVER, if you are speaking of someone who is not present and you are going to say something that might sound unkind and, at the same time, you want your listener to understand that you are not actually being unkind, THEN you say, "Bless her heart, she just .........."