March 01, 2006

language equals race 2

Then again if we do take the claim that speaking a particular way constitutes the essence of being a member of a particular race, instead of melanine transplants (recall Michael Jackson's sad attempts) we only need to become proficient in the language.

Thanks to our Language in Culture professor Michael Silverstein who just sent our class this wonderful introduction to Chicago slang I now give you the means to begin your progress towards becoming racially Chicagoan.

1. Grachki (grach'-key): Chicagoese for "garage key" as in, "Yo, Theresa, waja do wit da grachki? Howmy supposta cut da grass if I don't git intada grach?"
2. Sammich: Chicagoese for sandwich. When made with sausage, it's a sassage sammich; when made with shredded beef, it's an Italian Beef sammich, a local delicacy consisting of piles of spicy meat in a perilously soggy bun.
3. Da: This article is a key part of Chicago speech, as in "Da Bears" or "Da Mare" -- the latter denoting Richard M. Daley, or Richie, as he's often called.
4. Jewels: Not family heirlooms or a tender body region, but a popular name for one of the region's dominant grocery store chains. "I'm goin' to Jewels to pick up some sassage."
5. Field's: Marshall Field, a prominent Chicago department store. Also Carson Pirie Scott, another major department store chain, is simply Called "Carson's."
6. Tree: The number between two and four. "We were lucky dat we only got tree inches of snow da udder night."
7. Over by dere: Translates to "over by there," a way of emphasizing a site presumed familiar to the listener. As in, "I got the sassage at Jewels down on Kedzie, over by dere."
8. Kaminski Park: The mispronounced name of the ballpark where the Chicago White Sox (da Sox) play baseball. Comiskey Park was recently renamed U.S. Cellular Field (da Cell)
9. Frunchroom: As in, "Get outta da frunchroom wit dose muddy shoes." It's not the "parlor." It's not the "living room." In the land of the bungalow, it's the "frunchroom," a named derived, linguists believe, from "front room."
10. Use: Not the verb, but the plural pronoun 'you!' "Where use goin'?"
11. Downtown: Anywhere near The Lake, south of The Zoo (Lincoln Park Zoo) and north of Soldier Field.
12. The Lake: Lake Michigan. (What other lake is there?) It's often used by local weathermen, "cooler by The Lake."
13. Braht: Short for Bratwurst. "Gimme a braht wit kraut."
14. Goes: Past or present tense of the verb "say." For example, "Den he goes, 'I like this place'!"
15. Guys: Used when addressing two or more people, regardless of each individual's gender.
16. Pop: A soft drink. Don't say "soda" in this town. "Do ya wanna canna pop?"
17. Sliders: Nickname for hamburgers from White Castle, a popular Midwestern burger chain. "Dose sliders I had last night gave me da runs."
18. The Taste: The Taste of Chicago Festival, a huge extravaganza in Grant Park featuring samples of Chicagoland cuisine which takes place each year around the Fourth of July holiday.
19. "Jeetyet?": Translates to, "Did you eat yet?"
20. Winter and Construction: Punch line to the joke, "What are the two seasons in Chicago?"
21. Cuppa Too-Tree: is Chicagoese for "a couple, two, three" which really means "a few." For example, "Hey Mike, dere any beerz left in da cooler over by dere?" "Yeh, a cuppa too-tree."
22. 588-2300: Everyone in Chicago knows this commercial jingle and the carpet company you'll get if you call that number -- Empire!
23. Junk Dror: You will usually find the 'junk drawer' in the kitchen filled to the brim with miscellaneous, but very important, junk.
24. Southern Illinois: Anything south of I-80.
25. Expressways: The Interstates in the immediate Chicagoland area are usually known just by their 'name' and not their Interstate number: the Dan Ryan ("da Ryan"), the Stevenson, the Kennedy (da "Kennedy"), the Eisenhower (da "Ike"), and the Edens (just "Edens" but Da Edens" is acceptable).
26. Gym Shoes: The rest of the country may refer to them as sneakers or running shoes but Chicagoans will always call them gym shoes!


Blogger Matthew said...

I can just imagine the "S" reciting a few of those in class. Are you sitting in on his LiC2?

- Matt

3/07/2006 2:14 PM  
Blogger Elina said...

Yep! I'm so happy to be back in his class again, really inspiring! I actually just signed up for his linguistic anthro seminar for next quarter in indexical iconicity. Yey!
Anyway Matt, I'll give you a call as soon as I get out of this final paper swamp!

3/07/2006 11:56 PM  

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