August 22, 2006

More Jerseyspeak.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 7:22 pm

It’s been quite some time since I’ve addressed some of the finer points of Jerseyspeak. Pay close attention to the following, because it might keep you from getting your ass kicked when visiting the Garden State. You got a problem wit dat? No? OK, let’s go.

One of the examples of Jerseyspeak that I have always found to be interesting is the use of the terms “Not for nothing”** (which is pronounced “nah-fuh-NUTTIN’”), and “I am just saying” (which is pronounced “I’m-jus sayin’”).

The former is used to introduce one’s gratuitous opinion on a matter, particularly when the person offering the gratuitous opinion has some reason to believe that the opinion may not be well-received or believed by the listener. The latter is immediately employed in cases where the gratuitous opinion is challenged.

Consider, if you will, the following exchange between Tony and Angelo, two business associates:

Tony: “Yo, nah-fuh-NUTTIN’, but I think that guy Sal is ripping us off.”

Angelo: “You gotta be nuts! I know Sal for years. He may be an asshole, but he ain’t a teef!”

Tony: “Aaaaay, I’m jus sayin’.”

As you can see, the “nah-fuh-NUTTIN’” linguistic device permits Tony to subtly alert Angelo that he is about to make a statement, which may be outlandish, insulting, or just wrong, and from which Tony may have to distance himself, depending on the Angelo’s reaction to the statement.

The “I’m jus sayin’” device permits Tony to escape responsibility for having said such a thing, ironically by asserting that he was only saying it.

Jerseyspeak – It’s an art form.

** One could scratch one’s head bloody trying to discern the literal meaning of the double-negatived verbal tic “not for nothing”. “Not for nothing”? If something is “not for nothing”, doesn’t that mean that it is “for something”? I have to stop thinking about it, as I am getting blood under my fingernails and screwing up my great farookin’ hair.


  1. Actually, that manner of speaking, if you could call it ‘speaking,’ is somewhat similar to the way we speak here across the river in Brooklyn, USA, although I’ve tried to at least slightly refine my accent.

    I always thought Thomas Keane had an interesting accent … not many people I know speak like that.

    Comment by erica — August 22, 2006 @ 8:44 pm

  2. No! Not the hair! Stop thinking Jim!


    I’m jus sayin’

    Comment by Teresa — August 22, 2006 @ 9:06 pm

  3. Erica — Nah-fuh-NUTTIN’, but noBODY in Jersey talks like Thomase Keane (the Patrician-don’t-pronounce-the-letter-“R”-speak), except for Thomas Keane.

    Teresa — Fugetaboutit!! Nobody f**ks wit my great farookin’ hair.

    Comment by Jim — August 22, 2006 @ 9:11 pm

  4. RJ: “Yo, nah-fuh-NUTTIN’, bud I tink Tom Keane tawlks dat way cuz he went ta school in New England.”
    Jimbo: “You gotta be shittin me!”
    RJ:“Aaaaay, I’m jus sayin’.”

    Comment by RJ — August 23, 2006 @ 12:02 pm

  5. You have no idea how much help your “Jersey Speak” posts are for me.

    With all the business I do in Jersey now, I *NEED* to speak the language.

    You, sir, are a Professor!

    Comment by Tammi — August 23, 2006 @ 1:04 pm

  6. Jim,
    I always t’ought it was ” You godda problem wid dat?” Did they teach you to use “t’s” in law school?

    Comment by Mark Reardon — August 23, 2006 @ 2:19 pm

  7. Yo, nah-fuh-NUTTIN’, but ain’t this da way most of the Donks in the state house talk? Hey, I’m jus sayin’, ya know.

    Comment by joated — August 23, 2006 @ 2:28 pm

  8. […] for nothing, eidah: nobody likes a babbo. Jus’ saying, yannow? Spewed in: Blog Bites at 5:25 pm Trackback URL for this post: […]

    Pingback by Electric Venom » Blog Archive » How To Survive New Jersey — August 23, 2006 @ 6:29 pm

  9. How timely. I’ve just undertaken an informal study of the difference between North Joisey and Brooklyn accents and attitudes. Lesson one. Don’t assume the Jersey guy has a clue about that block in the East Village on 6th between 2nd and 3rd, but the cashier at the deli in Chapel Hill will know exactly the Indian resturant you’re talking about.

    Comment by Libby — August 23, 2006 @ 6:32 pm

  10. Nah-fuh-NUTTIN…how come there are so many people in Joisey named *Sal*??
    Jus sayin’.

    (I’m from California….did I say that right?)

    Comment by DogsDontPurr — August 23, 2006 @ 8:49 pm

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