Friday, June 27, 2014

Words That Mean Something Very Different in NOLA

As a transplant in NOLA (2+ years and going strong!), I'm especially conscious of how much dialect affects what words mean. I've finally stopped asking what people down here are saying-- 1. because I've probably picked up on it by now, 2. because sometimes that's just easier, and/or 3. because if I don't know it by now, it can't be all that common so stop saying that, I don't want to hear it! 

Not to mention people in New Orleans make fun of how I talk all the time (e.g., my hard A's like when I'm wagging around a saggy bag, my occasional "you guys" instead of "y'all," or talking about cheese all the time). 

Welcome to the Midwest! Where words mean exactly what the dictionary says they mean! 

Lessons learned here? For one thing, people in New Orleans are jerks for their weird words and for making fun of ME for being normal. (I mean, seriously. National news anchors base their delivery off of Columbus, OH speech patterns. HELLO. I should cite that, but I won't because you can Google it or assume I'm lying.)

For another, I have to be very conscious of how I'm speaking if I want to fit in, because there is a LOT of room for misunderstanding. 

So here I am, a gal who doesn't talk like she's from New Orleans OR from the Midwest, who will try to explain to all you people exactly what my struggle has been.

Example #1: Snowball

This is a no-brainer in the Midwest. However, it's completely foreign to people in New Orleans. And shut up, you NOLA local who swears you made a snowball once in 2008 and it was glorious. NO. That was pathetic. This is a snowball to you:

The yummier, smoother, fancier version of the Icee of the rest of the world. New Orleans: the one place in the world where eating yellow snowballs is not only appropriate but also encouraged.

2. Example #2: Shotgun

In the Midwest: Your God-given and Constitution-protected right to bear arms and spend a lot of money on ammunition. We have that in NOLA, too, but when you talk "shotgun" here, THIS is the first thing to come to mind:
A New Orleans shotgun is a house. You live in it. You paint it crazy colors. You don't use it to take out targets, animals, or people.

On a related note, example 2b: camelback. In the Midwest: a brand of water bottle or an actual camel's hump. In New Orleans? A shotgun house with a second story added to the back end. I could explain to you why, but I won't.

Example #3: Cold drink
In the Midwest: quite literally and unimaginatively, a drink that is cold. Any drink that is cold.

In New Orleans: quite irrationally and very specifically, a soda or pop or coke or whatever you choose to call a sugary, carbonated beverage. Probably cold. I am sure that I will NEVER understand this.

Example #4: Dressed

In the Midwest: Again, literally it means being dressed. Having clothes on. (We're not creative? Or maybe we just like for our words to MAKE SENSE.) Extra points for dressing in a dress.

In New Orleans: Putting everything on your sandwich. Like your sandwich is getting dressed up? I guess. I guess I can embrace this. When I go home to see the family, I will just ask for my sandwiches with everything on it. Sorry. "Fully dressed" will only get me strange stares at the deli in Ohio.

Example #5: Suck the head, pinch the tail

Um, excuse me? This is a family-friendly blog and I will NOT have the kind of dirty talk.

Oooooooooh, wait. You're in New Orleans, so you're eating crawfish. Yep, this sexually charged phrase is a set of instructions for eating mudbugs. They're delicious, and this is the best way to enjoy them, so cheers, y'all! I'll be suck 'dem heads until dere ain' no more to suck!

And a note to my Midwestern friends: Just don't bother saying this. It's not worth it. #badpickuplines