July 22, 2004


Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 8:21 pm

Way back in 2002 I wrote a little something about the way we talk here in Northern Jersey, reluctantly conceding that, yes, we may have a little bit of an accent. I also provided some of the rudiments of Jerseyspeak. I believe that it is time for another lesson.

In that regard, I think it is instructive to compare the “proper” way of speaking in certain situations with the way the folks here speak in those same situations.

Let’s begin, shall we?

When trying to get someone’s attention…
Proper: “Excuse me.”
Jersey: “Yo!”

When trying to get the attention of a gentleman…
Proper: “Excuse me, sir.”
Jersey: “Yo, buddy!”

When trying to get a gentleman’s attention, and he appears to be ignoring you…
Proper: “SIR, Excuse me, sir.”
Jersey: “Yo, Asshole! Over here!”

When trying to get a gentleman’s attention and he continues to ignore you.
Proper: “Sir, Excuse me. I am trying mightily to get your attention.”
Jersey: “Yo, Asshole! Get the shit outta yer ears!”

When greeting a friend on the street…
Proper: “Hello.”
Jersey: “Haya Doo’n?”

When greeting a friend whom you have not seen in a while…
Proper: “Hello there. It certainly has been a while.”
Jersey: “YO! Haya Doo’n? Long time no see. Where yoo bin?”

When inquiring as to your friend’s whereabouts…
Proper: “Hello there. It certainly has been a while. Have you relocated?”
Jersey: “YO! Haya Doo’n? Long time no see. Where yoo bin? You bin locked up or some shit?”

When you question whether another person might be angry with you…
Proper: “Sir, I sense that you might be angry with me.”
Jersey: “Yo, Asshole. You got some kinda freakin’ problem?”

When describing a person whom you believe to be incorrect about a matter…
Proper: “That gentleman appears to be ill-informed.”
Jersey: “He don’t know shit.”

When questioning whether something you have heard from a stupid person is correct…
Proper: “What you just told me seems a bit fanciful, sir.”
Jersey: “Horseshit!”

When questioning whether something you have heard from a person was intended to deceive you…
Proper: “I am having difficulty believing that you are being truthful with me.”
Jersey: “Bullshit!”

When someone describes things that seem petty, over complicated, and unnecessary…
Proper: “I question the necessity of all these useless and annoying formalities.”
Jersey: “Chickenshit!”

[Note our facility with scatological nuance.]

…and finally,

When you are asked by a friend to help him make a difficult decision about an interpersonal matter…
Proper: “You must carefully weigh the pros and cons of your intended action, which may include a thoughtful balancing of the benefits of your intended actions against the risk of an taking an alternative approach. You should also consider the pros, cons, risks and benefits of taking no action at all.”
Jersey: “Yo, Do da right ting.”



  1. Proper: The gentleman decided to enter a rehabilitation facility to attempt recovery.

    NJ: Poor sap got sent to 30 days at Whiskey Camp.

    Proper: I do not accept your suggestion.

    NJ : Get outa my face before I give you a punk-slap.

    Comment by cousin gary — July 22, 2004 @ 8:45 pm

  2. My father grew up in Northern Jersey, around Morristown. We spent most of my childhood in Florida and over the years dad developed quite a southern drawl.

    But get Dad and his brother together for ten minutes and… exactly the way you wrote it. I couldn’t understand a word they were saying.

    btw.. My Dad looks and sounds like Tom Waits and his brother is the spitting image of Art Carney. No wonder I turned out the way I did.

    Comment by Mike S — July 22, 2004 @ 9:04 pm

  3. Mike,

    Sounds like you got some real good Jersey genes!

    Comment by Jim - Parkway Rest Stop — July 22, 2004 @ 9:07 pm

  4. My favorite is “What you just told me seems a bit fanciful.” Funny stuff. As an aside, I sometimes say “Yo” and I’m not from Jersey. Too much Sopranos, maybe?

    Comment by topdawg — July 22, 2004 @ 9:12 pm

  5. Where was these instructions when I first started runnin’ around with my friend from Jersey? Hell it took almost 6 months before I could understand her completely. (Of course if we would have tried to have any “sober” conversations we may have made better progress!)

    Comment by Tammi — July 22, 2004 @ 10:11 pm

  6. Sh-e-e-it, y’all sure dew tawk funny up Nawth.

    When admonishing a youngster engaged in improper behavior.

    PROPER: Young man, cease that activity and return to your parents.

    TEXAN: Son, cut that sh-e-e-it out an’ get yo’ daddy. He gonna whop yo ass.

    Comment by slimedog — July 23, 2004 @ 9:53 am

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