How to Speak in 1938 New York

Posted on: November 22nd, 2010 at 11:02 am by

Thanks to Boogie reader Shawn Chittle for passing along this link to the 1938 Almanac for New Yorkers [PDF].  In the wake of Friday’s post on Bowery slang, it seems rather appropriate to highlight the section on deciphering various city dialects (“In a Manner of Speaking”). Buckle in, this one will have you laughing!

So here it is, how to speak proper New York City English, circa 1938 (pp. 114 – 115):

Braykidup, braykidup: Policeman’s suggestion to any group of loiterers.

Wazzitooyuh? Delicate rebuff to an excessively curious questioner.

Wannamayksumpnuvvit? Invitation to a brawl.

Tsagayg: Sophisticated expression of polite incredulity.

Wattitcha? To a gentleman with facial contusions or (colloq.) a shiner.

Oppkar-goynop: One third of the vocabulary necessary to operate an elevator.

Donkar-goyndon: Another third of the vocabulary necessary to elevator operators.

Ollowayback-Jayzagate: The remaining third.

Takadiway: “Please remove it from sight immediately.”

Domebeeztoopid: Expressing specific disagreement, with undertones of disparagement.

Statnylant: The place on the horizon where good ferries go.

Whuzzup? Request for information, any information.

Waddadajintzdoodisaft? “Did the New York National League baseball team win today, I hope?” (Except in Brooklyn)

Ladderide: Warning not to pursue the subject further.

Hootoadjuh? “Please give the source of your information.”

Whyntchalookeryagoyn? Rhetorical expression of relief used (by motorists esp.) after a near-collision.

Filladuppigen: To a sympathetic bartender. Eventually elicits the response ….

Yoovadanuffbud: From the same sympathetic bartender.

Duhshuh-ul: An underground railway connecting Times Square and Grand Central Terminal.

Domeblokadoor : An usher, or guard, in full cry.

Sowaddyasaybabe or Hozzabotutbabe: Prelude to romance.

Steptiddyrearidybuspleez: Bus driver’s request whenever two or three passengers are gathered together.

Nyesplayshagottere: On first looking into a friend’s apartment.

Welyecut: Antiphonal response for host and hostess.

Saddy: Last day of the week.

Sumpmscroowie: A note of suspicion.

Plennyaseatsnabalkny: Optimism outside a motion picture theater; not entirely trustworthy.

Scramltoowisydafrench: a short-order is given.

Onnafyah: A short-order is being prepared.

Wahgoozidoo? Cynical dejection.

Assawayigoze: Philosophical interjection for conversational lulls.

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