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Along with a distinctive dialect, New Orleans has terms which are unique the the area and culture. I have a list here that explains a lot of these terms, as well as puts to rest some terms that are played up by the tourist industry, but only tourists actually say. My sources are a website called 'how ta tawk rite', at (http://www.gumbopages.com/yatspeak.html), which is a damn good site written by a native older than I, and my own personal experience living in this place for the past twenty years.

I've chosen not to represent the words in IPA, but there is consistency with the vowels: 'ee' will be the vowel in feet; 'i' will be the vowel in hit; 'ey' the vowel in wait; 'e' as in met; 'oo' as in soon; 'u' as in cook; 'o' or 'o_e' as in low; 'a' as in cat, 'ah' as in hot; 'ai' as in sigh; 'ow' as in cow and '@' will represent the schwa as seen in cut. The sounds 'aw' and 'aê' have special pronunciations. the first is more rounded than the low back vowel in cough, to the point of being labialized, that is, having a 'w' offglide. The 'ae' is a bit higher than the vowel in cat, and is the vowel in bad in this dialect and some others. Also,the schwa + 'r' combination will be represented by 'er'. Another note that pompous tourists fail to recognize is that New Orleans pronunciation has most often nothing to do with French or Spanish pronunciation, or even English for that matter. Some of these are just variations in pronunciation, but are noticeable and important if you wanted to sound right.

THE LIST:

  • Algerian (ael-JEER-ee-@n)- Someone from Algiers, Louisiana, which is a part of Orleans Parish on the other side of the Mississippi River from downtown New Orleans. Not someone from North Africa, though the name comes from French soldiers who were reminded of the shitty weather in the Algiers of North Africa.
  • Ambulance (aem-byu-LAENS) - same as it normally is, except the stress is different from the standard 'AM-byu-l@ns'
  • Anyways (EN-nee-weyz)- And, then; and, so
  • Arab (EY-raeb) Someone of Middle-Eastern descent
  • Arabian (@-REY-bee-@n) Someone from Arabi, Louisiana, in St. Bernard Parish, my hometown where I grew up and lived for ten years. It's a place full of old Yats and baby-boomer era homes.
  • Awrite (aw-RAIT) - allright!
  • Ax (AEKS) - aside from the wood-chopping tool, it means to ask - for you linguists this is a fine example of metathesis.
  • Babe (BEYB) - a term of endearment used between member of any gender.
  • Banquette (beyng-KET) - the sidewalk, but this term is rarely used anymore except in the speech of older people from New Orleans' glory days in the early 20th Century
  • Bayou (BAI-yoo) - Contrary to popular belief, people in New Orleans do not have swamps and bayous running through their back yards. You'd have to drive a bit (about a half-hour) in order to actually reach the vast wetlands that make up much of Southern Louisiana. There is one bayou that does run right through the city though, Bayou St. John. But with the city rising up all around it, it seems more like a canal than the traditional idea of a bayou.
  • Begneit (ben-YEY) - a type of French doughnut, it is fried and has a lot in common with the Mexican sopapilla. Often served with coffee and milk, they can be found at Cafe du Monde and other cafes throughout the city.
  • Behave (bee-HEYV) - sounds like it normally does, but conjugates at the 'be' part so that you get 'being have'. This is heard in the black dialect most often and is one of my favorite oddities of speech in the city.
  • Berl (berl) - boil, and a crawfish berl is a crawfish boil, which is often equivalent to neighborhood barbecue.
  • Betsy - refers to Hurricane Betsy, which hit in the mid-1960s (it actually hit southwest of the city and was significantly weakened by the time it got there). It inundated many parts of the city, in particular the Ninth Ward and St. Bernard Parish, and many people in their 40s and up will have stories about what happened 'back in Betsy'. It's the reason why a house may have a watermark, or why a family dog was lost. Needless to say, it was perhaps one of the most monumental events to ever shake the city.
  • Bobo (BO-bo) - A small injury or wound; this term is used in children's speech most often. To this day I can't think of a better word that applies to all small wounds.
  • Boo (BOO) - A term of endearment, often used by parents and grandparents. This is one of the few terms in New Orleans believed to be Cajun in origin.
  • Bra (BRAH) - aside from a female undergarment, this is a variation of 'bro' and is used often between men as an introductory term, as in 'say, bra...'
  • Brake tag (BREYK TAEG) - called an inspection sticker in other states, the brake tag does not only encompass brake inspection, but everything from headlights to the horn. However, the primary concern is the brakes, and an expired one can be a pretty serious infraction.
  • Broom (BRUM) - what you use to sweep your porch, but with the vowel in 'look' and not the vowel in 'cool'.
  • Bucktown (B@K-taewn) - A region of Jefferson Parish that lies on the shore of Lake Pontchartrain.
  • Buddy - refers to Buddy Diliberto, a popular New Orleans radio personality to whom locals listen to get the latest scoop on 'da Saints' and 'Elleshew'. The catch is that this guy has a horrible stuttering speech impediment. only in New Orleans could someone like this be on radio
  • By (BAI) - A wonderful preposition in the New Orleans dialect. It's more like the German bei or Russian u than the traditional English use of 'by'(In fact this might be due to German influence). You can say 'by my house' or 'by John's' and mean 'at my house' or 'at John's'. This is because the common English use of 'by' means roughly 'next to', but in this sense, and in German and Russian it has a meaning more like 'In the area of'. So, you can say 'By Mama's da phone ain't been woikin' and it means the same thing as Russian 'U mamê têlêfon nê rabotajet'. This is how we get to use phrases like 'by my mom an'nems' to mean 'back home'.
  • Bywater (BAI-waw-t@) - An area just due east of the French Quarter.
  • Cajun (KEY-j@n) - A term annoyingly and erroneously applied to New Orleans. Any Cajun in New Orleans most likely comes from somewhere else. My grandfather, from Thibodaux (TI-b@-do) is culturally Cajun, but technically not Cajun, since this refers to a specific group of people who were kicked out Nova Scotia and Acadia in Canada by the British (Acadian --> Cajun). (see Longfellow's 'Evangeline') It refers to the culture of these people as well as the people themselves. This is a wonderful and incredibly important part of Louisiana's heritage (see Longfellow's 'Evangeline'), but it is not New Orleans. If you want to experience Cajun culture, go about 150 miles west to Lafayette, the Cajun capital of Louisiana.
  • Carrolton (KA-r@l-t@n) - an area where Carrolton Avenue and St. Charles Avenue come to a point at the river, and the location of the world-famous restaurant Camelia Grill.
  • The Cathedral (k@-THEE-dr@l) - in particular, the St. Louis Cathedral in the French Quarter which is perhaps still the focal point of the city, and has been since its founding (though there have been more than one building, they've all been in the same place). It's the place where good little Catholic girls dream of getting married, and the place where the rich and well-known of the city do tie the knot. Mass is televised every Sunday, and on holidays. It is not built in the characteristic Spanish architectural style as the rest of the city is (Everyone was in the cathedral when the city burned down), but is a beautiful, outwardly quaint building that sits facing the Mississippi River on Jackson Square.
  • The Catholic District (KAT-lik DIS-trik) - A 'district' of high school sports (5A) that includes the schools Jesuit, Holy Cross, Brother Martin, DeLasalle, St. Augustine, Rummel, and Shaw. This is traditionally one of the most competitive districts in Louisiana sports, especially football. This is because these schools are very old and, unlike private schools in the rest of the country, they have an alumni base of people from all walks of life, from very rich to dirt poor, black and white.
  • The Causeway (KAWZ-wey) - refers in particular to the bridge running from Metairie to Mandeville across Lake Pontchartrain. This was actually the longest bridge in the world up until a few years ago, at 24 miles.
  • Chalmette (shal-MET) - a town in St. Bernard Parish, and home to many true Yats Chalmette is often the exemplar of 'no class' and tackiness, even in adjective phrases like 'That's so Chalmette'. A phrase like this would refer to something like wearing white shrimping boots to church or smoking despite a tracheotomy (I've seen these things happen).
  • Cement (SEE-ment) - same thing it normally is, but pronounced differently.
  • Chalmatian (shal-MEY-sh@n) - someone from Chalemette.
  • Charmer (CHAW-m@) - basically a Yat woman in uncomplimentary situations. A woman who looks like she just got out of bed would get comments like 'oh, you're a real charmer this morning'.
  • The Chef (SHEF) - refers to Chef Menteur Highway in St. Bernard Parish and New Orleans East.
  • Chief (CHEEF) - A form of address among men
  • City Park (SIT-tee PAWK) - Basically the 'Central Park' of New Orleans, though actually bigger and includes golf courses, long oak-lined paths, a childrens' park called Storyland and home to the Celebration in the Oaks, a big deal around Christmastime, with lots of lights and food and shit.
  • Coffee and Doughnuts - refers to begneits and cafe-au-lait in this sense, like 'Let's get coffee and doughnuts'
  • Coke (KOKE) - While it does refer to the wonderful beverage Coca-Cola, in New Orleans it can often simply refer to any soft drink in general. 'Pick me up a Coke' could mean Pepsi or even Dr Pepper. In fact, the word 'soda' is never used , and 'pop' is cause to get you funny looks and well-deserved insults.
  • Al Copeland (KOPE-l@nd) - A very important and extravagant businessman in New Orleans sometimes called 'The Chicken King' by newspapers, he owns many of the restaurants in town, and founded the Popeyes fast food chain in Arabi (He's lost that company but still owns all the recipes and spices). Copeland is a very colorful and controversial figure who is a quintessential New-Orleanian and is often seen in the news.
  • Cornder (KORN-der / KON-d@) - streetcorner, this term is heard in the 7th and 9th Wards, and can be heard in some Fats Domino songs (He still lives in the 9th Ward).
  • Crawfish (KRAW-fish) - never, ever, ever, ever, pronounced 'KREY-fish' and if you pronounce it this way, you are likely to be shot in the head (and justifiably so). It is a popular food to eat in the springtime, when in season. They are immersed in a big pot of propane-boiled water and a shitload of cayenne pepper, as well as potatoes, corn, and other stuff. The way you eat them is you rip them apart at the tail, squeeze the tip of the tail, pull out and eat the meat, then suck the head for the juicy fat and cayenne-boiled water inside. This method is called 'suck the head, squeeze the tip'. People eat pounds at a time, and it's often the center of a large get-together like a block party or family reunion. A tradition in New Orleans is to have an enormous crawfish boil on Good Friday, a day in which us Catholics (the predominant religion) are forbidden to eat meat. Of course, in traditional Catholic fashion, the point of the fast is ignored and the technicality is exploited as an excuse to splurge on crawfish and beer.
  • Creole (KREE-ole) - In New Orleans this term has come to be less of a specifically ethnic term (It used to refer to various mixings: French/Spanish; French/Black; Spanish/Black, etc.), but now is more of a general term applied to an item of New Orleans culture or cooking.
  • Darlin (DAW-lin) - A term used by women as a form of address, or by men towards women. Differs from the Deep South 'dahlin' in that the vowel is very rounded. Synonymous with 'hawt'.
  • D.H. Holmes (HOMZ) - a now-defunct department store still referred to by older locals when talking about a non-specific department store. Same goes for Maison Blanche.
  • Dixie (DIK-see) - The Civil War is not as prevalent in the minds of New Orleanians as is it in those of say, Atlantans, and when you say Dixie you often are referring to a brand of beer, that really just recently started making a comeback. Some people swear by it, some say it tastes like piss. Personally, I like it, and it should be the traditional quaff to drink with crawfish.
  • Dodo (DO-do) - another Cajun term, it means sleep, and comes from fais do do, basically 'go to sleep'. Often heard as 'make dodo', it's a term used for children usually
  • Doubloon (d@-BLOON) - A type of metal coin minted yearly by Mardi Gras Krewes in various colors and usually made of aluminum. There are a lot exclusive members-only ones made of brass or silver. They are collected with great fervor, and people collect them like you'd collect stamps. Some are actually worth thousands of dollars. You'll often here collectors yelling 'Da-BLOOON!' along parade routes.
  • Down the Road (DAEWN da RODE) - This is a term that in St. Bernard Parish, along with 'up the road' refers particularly to St. Bernard Highway, which thravels the length of the parish and all the towns are along it.
  • Dressed (DREST) - when you order a po-boy or hamburger you'll be asked if you want it dressed. This means it has lettuce, tomatoes, and mayonnaise. This is very common and heard all over the city, and it's opposite is 'nuttinonit'.
  • Elleshew (ell-e-SHOO) - LSU, Louisiana State University, pronounced as one word.
  • Erl (ERL) - oil, the source of employment of many New Orleanians
  • Ernge (ERNJ) - orange. A little kid once told me that 'ernge' is the color, and 'orange' is the fruit (pronounced 'AW-rinj', never 'AH-rinj'), and as far as I can tell, this is true.
  • Erstas (ER-st@z) - Oysters, another staple of the New Orleans diet, often eaten raw with cocktail sauce mixed with mayonnaise. To me they taste like a salty, slippery tongue. They're also grilled, and also fried and put on po-boys, my preferred way of eating them.
  • Esplanade (es-pl@-NEYD) - an old term for 'walkway' that's not really used anymore except as the name of the street that bears the name. Notice the pronunciation is indeed not 'es-pl@-NAHD'
  • The Fairgrounds (FAE-graewndz) - The New Orleans Fairgrounds, a popular destination for family entertainment like horse racing. Also the site of the annual and world famous New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, or simply 'Jazzfest'.
  • Fat City - a traditionally prominently Italian area of Metairie that is home to many a shady restaurant and sleazy singles bar. Many Yats live here, and it's here that you'll see fifty and sixty year old chain-smoking emphesema-ridden women who wear tacky-ass clothes and dark glasses and dye their hair jet black and wear cheap jewelry. This place has a lot in common with Chalmette.
  • Faubourg (FO-berg) - a (usually rich) neighborhood, it refers in particular to such old neighborhoods as Faubourg Marigny (MA-rin-nee) and Faubourg St. Martin.
  • Faucet (FAH-sit) - a faucet, like it normally is, except that the pronunciation is different than the normal 'FAW-s@t'
  • Flambeaux carriers (flaem-BO) - these guys carry large tanks of propane on their backs and a sort of metal 'flame-tree', called 'flambeaux' above their heads in-between bands and floats during Mardi-Gras parades. They traditionally lit up the floats in pre-electricity days, but now their function is purely historical and fun.
  • Flying Horses (FLAI-in HAW-s@z) - A merry-go-round/carousel, particularly the big one in City Park. This is a term I distinctly remember from childhood.
  • For (FAW) - Like, 'by', this pronoun can have a special meaning. It is used in statements of time in place of 'at' or 'by'. 'We had to be home for 6', 'The parade was for 7' are examples of how it's used.
  • French Market (FRENCH MAW-kit) - the open-air market in the French Quarter where one can find fresh fruit and seafood and weird and cheap shit. Also called the Flea Market
  • F'sure (f@-SHOOR) - Like 'Yeah You Rite', a statement of agreement, not used so much by younger generations, sadly
  • F'true (f@-TROO) - often synonymous with 'really?' or 'for real?'
  • Garden District (GAW-dn DIS-trik) - a very, very, nice uptown neighborhood, its beautiful old houses are a big tourist attraction and the height of luxury to a New Orleanian. The neighborhood is just a few streets west of the French Quarter, and the term is sometimes erroneously applied to all of uptown, since it is all a pretty old money-rich area.
  • Gawd (GAWD) - the supreme deity, present in the 'Triniddy,' made up of Jeezus Chris', Gawd da Fawtha, and da Holy Ghos'.
  • Gentilly (jen-TIL-lee) - a neighborhood in the middle of the city, between the French Quarter and the lake.
  • Go cup - a plastic cup thrown at Mardi Gras Parades that fits easily into drink-holders in cars. The name comes from the fact that they are used to serve drinks in bars so that people can drink on the street. Drinking on the street in most places is fine, but glass bottles or beer cans are prohibited. (the exception is Mardi Gras parades)
  • Grippe (GREEP) - an older term for the flu
  • Gris-gris (GREE-gree) - a voodoo spell that is more commonly found in movies than in the city. Voodoo is not so prominent in New Orleans as the tourist industry would have you believe, but it does have a pretty significant presence.
  • Gumbo (G@M-bo) - a popular dish, coming in two main varieties, seafood gumbo and chicken gumbo. It's soupy and roux-based and served on rice, usually containing okra and sausage. It is attempted by non-New Orleanians all over the country who fail miserably at recreating the taste. It is a fact that there is no such thing as good New Orleans style cooking outside of New Orleans, unless the cook happens to be from here. Any attempt by anyone else is crap. If you want a real gumbo, go to someone's house, not to a restaurant. If you want real New Orleans cooking, do not go anywhere that has Emeril Lagasse's name connected to it. He's not even from here and you'll pay out of your ass.
  • Heart (HAWT) - a term of endearment used by women, much like 'dawlin'. Also the organ that pumps blood, of course.
  • Hickey (HIK-ee) - This term has caused me some embarrassment. Apparently, it means 'a red mark made by necking' everywhere else. In New Orleans, it's the bump you get when you get hit on the head. I believe a 'passion mark' is what other people call a 'hickey'
  • Housecoat and curlers (HOWS-kote n KER-l@Z) - Basically, what a Yat woman sits around in all day as she watched soap operas and chain-smokes.
  • Huck-a-bucks - a type of frozen treat made in dixie cups of frozen Kool-Aid and sold on street corners by kids, like a lemonade stand. We called these things freezies where I'm from (Arabi), but 'huck-a-bucks' is a Seventh Ward thing, I believe.
  • The Huey Long, The Huey P. - The Huey P. Long Bridge, built in the 1920s was the first bridge to be built over the Mississippi River this far south. It was a huge engineering feat in its day, and still stands today for both automobile and train traffic, though the automobile part is pretty narrow by today's standards. It's actually a very safe bridge, and accidents are extremely rare.
  • I'll take me a... - May I have a...
  • Indicator (IN-di-key-t@) - A turning signal on a car, also called a 'blinker'. New Orleans drivers are also notorious for not using these.
  • Industrial Canal - a locked waterway running from the Mississippi River to Lake Pontchartrain, it is the gateway into the lower Ninth Ward and St. Bernard Parish
  • Inkpen (INGK-pen) - a pen, particularly a ball-point, but can refer to any pen. Notice the stress.
  • Insurance (IN-shoor-@ns) - insurance, but the stress is different.
  • Irish Channel - Sort of the renegade brother of the erudite Garden District (located between the Garden Distict and the River), it is one of theost interesting neighborhoods in the city, and it is famous for being a truly ethnically mixed neighborhood long before that sort of thing was common in the South or even the North for that matter.
  • Jambalaya (j@m-b@-LAI-y@) - a famous Creole dish made with a base of rice, it is cooked in the same sort of bots used to boil crawfish and crabs. It can contain many different ingredients: chicken, sausage, shrimp, just to name a few common ones, and range in color from brown to orange. Only one rule: It has to be delicious. This rule is broken by anyone outside of New Orleans who tries to make it. Don't try. You suck at it. See the gumbo entry for more details on this. Also, is is never ever, ever, ever pronounced with the first syllable rhyming with 'ham'. Don't come to New Orleans unless you want to pronounce it with the first syllable rhyming with 'bum'.
  • Jawn (JAWN) - the popular boy's name 'John' a-la New Orleans locals.
  • Jax (JAKS) - Jax beer, brewed at the Jackson Brewery, which, as far as I can tell, is now sadly extinct. The Jackson Brewery is now, however, a very popular and nice downtown shopping location.
  • K&B - stands for Katz and Besthoff, it was the name of a local chain of drug stores identified by their big ugly purple signs and offensive yellow neon lights in front of the stores. Everything that had to do with K&B was purple, and they had a store brand of everything, from ice cream to vodka. In the old days, there was a real soda fountain and all, with stools and soda jerks and everything, but those days are long gone. Of course, like the story of all local drugstores they were bought out by the assholes at Rite-Aid who ditched the beloved purple as well as favorites like K&B pencils and K&B gallon ice cream. It's a sad story, and I try to avoid shopping at Rite Aid when I can. However, at some of these locations, the yellow neon lights still exist, as well as the purple plastic mini-doors inside the store.
  • K&B purple (POI-pl) - a particular shade of purple, it is not used in complimentary statements. 'His car was K&B purple' usually means that it's an ugly-ass car. Despite the fact that K&B was raped by fucking Rite-Aid, this color still exists in the local vernacular.
  • King Cake - a large ring-shaped pastry covered in sugar and icing and traditionally served at king-cake parties. These parties take place every Friday from King's Day (January 6, the day celebrated on which the Magi visited the infant Jesus) until Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday, the day before Lent starts). Here's how it works: In a classroom or workplace, one person brings the cake in one Friday. Inside the cake is a little plastic baby, and the person who gets the piece with the baby has to buy the king cake the next week. Of course, local bakers nowadays make king cakes year round and for any holiday occasion as well as birthdays, and they can and are shipped anywhere in the world, usually via kingcakes.com. The best of these is Randazzo's Goodchildren Bakery, but Haydel's Bakery is another favorite. The recently shut-down McKenzie's Bakery actually made crappy king cakes in my opinion, though their doughnuts and other pastries were the best in the universe.
  • Krewe (KROO) - this is a Mardi Gras Organization, and many of them have parades which roll throughout the Mardi Gras season. Some only have grand balls. Some are old and pretentious, like Comus and Proteus, while others are exravagant and rollicking good times (Bacchus and Endymion), while some are downright irreverent, like Tucks. Some other famous krewes are Rex, Zulu, Thoth, Orpheus, Saturn, Shangri-la, Momus, Orpheus, and many many more. There are usually give or take thirty krewes which roll each year, and many others exist as purely social clubs, the original and core essence of all the krewes.
  • Lagniappe (LAEN-yap) - it means 'something extra', like when you get a free coke with a meal, or you buy a pound of ham and get an extra two ounces. The point is to bring return business, as well as friendship and good will. This term is not really used anymore in common speech by anyone really, except to refer to the Friday pull-out entertainment section of The Times-Picayune
  • The Lake - refers to Lake Pontchartrain (PAHN-ch@-treyn), the large lake that's the northern boundary of the city.
  • Lakeview - a nice neighborhood on the Lake in the northwest corner of the city, bordering on Jefferson Parish.
  • Locker (LAH-k@) - basically, a small bedroom closet or coat closet, you know, where you hang your clothes and put your shoes at night if you're good.
  • Louisiana (l@-WEE-zee-A-n@) - the fine, fine state in which our fine, fine city is located. New Orleanians often forget that the state consists of more than New Orleans, the Baton Rouge, and Acadiana. But whatever, no one's ever heard of West Monroe, and tourists sure as hell don't go there. An important note is the pronunciation: it is not 'LOO-zee-a-n@' as popularized by the tourist industry and by idiots, especially Hollywood idiots (I swear, not a single jackass in Hollywood has ever heard a New Orleanian talk).
  • Make groceries (gro-SHREEZ) - to go grocery shopping. This is unquestionably due to the influence of some European language, most likely German or French. The verb 'to do' and 'to make' are the same in most European languages, and the idiom was mistranslated. Of course, this expression has fallen by the wayside, and you really only hear older people use it nowadays, if at all.
  • Marching 100 (MAW-chin-wun-HUN-drit) - The band of St. Augustine High School is perhaps the best known in all of Mardi Gras parades and high school football fields. Dressed in purple and gold Roman garb, they are indeed an impressive sight.
  • Mardi Gras (MAW-dee GRAW) - perhaps New Orleans' most famous feature next to Jazz, this is an annual Carnival celebration that represents one last big party before Lenten fasting (It means 'Fat Tuesday'). Sadly, in the past few decades, New Orleans and Mardi Gras have become whores to the tourist industry, and the holiday is hardly enjoyable for what is traditionally was, a family thing where kids dressed up and people just had a good time. It's now called 'the biggest free party on earth' and is ruined by moron tourists (I don't mean to call all tourists morons...there are many many good tourists whom we love and want to come visit us and come back every year and then some, but then there are some that are no good and only ruin the spirit of Mardi Gras and of New Orleans). New Orleanians are historically by nature heavy partyers, but within the bounds of good moral character, nowhere near the excess exhibited by these out-of-town jackasses (by the way, true New Orleanians are found nowhere near the French Quarter). I still love it, and will continue to do so despite the rise in idiocy and decline in the traditional place of Mardi Grs in New Orleans. Oh, and a word of advice...driving around and saying 'which way to the Mardi Gras' is a good way to get directions into a bad neighborhood or a bloody mouth. Also, the cops rule the streets, so listen to what they say, and don't ever bring up 'rights'. They're nice guys but have little tolerance for what they see as disturbance of a large crowd. They're not the best crowd-control police force in the nation for nothing.
  • Marraine (mah-RAEN) - godmother, also called 'nanny' and nanan (NAH-nan)
  • Maw-maw (MAW-maw/m@-MAW) - grandmother. She's married to Paw-Paw. I've actually even heard the German Oma (O-maw)/Opa (O-paw) in some places.
  • Mayonnaise (mey-NAEZ) - odd pronunciation, also 'MAI-nez'.
  • McKenzie's (m@-KEN-zeez) - a local bakery that just recently went out of business cause some asshole complained of health code violations (they'd been 'violating' them for over 50 years but no one complained), they had the best doughnuts in the universe, as well as many other pastries. I mourn their passing every morning.
  • Metairie (MET-@-ree/MET-tree) - the main town in Jefferson Parish, Metairie is perhaps the biggest suburb of New Orleans, and the home of many of the Yats of today. It's a textbook example of urban sprawl, and traffic is a bitch. Often the term 'Metairie' will be used to refer to any confusing, congested, modern, tasteless consumer landscape. To say 'I went to Houston and it was like a giant Metairie' means it was confusing and had no character, just generic urban sprawl. (Anyone from New Orleans who has been to Houston knows exactly what i'm talking about:)). A real Yat will say the second pronunciation, which is spelled 'Metry'.
  • Mid-City - a neighborhood roughly on North Carrolton Avenue, it has a character all its own, which is distinctly New Orleans, but with a particular flavor. It's one of my favorite areas, and it's where much of the Endymion parade passes through. There's a particular style or architecture for the most part which is very reminiscient of the early half of the 20th Century, and North Carrolton is lined with palm trees.
  • Mirliton (MEL-i-tawn) - vegetable pear/chayote squash in other dialects, it is grown in many a New Orleans back yard with tomoatoes and cucumbers. It's also found in many a creole recipe.
  • Mosquitohawk (m@-SKEE-t@-hawk) - a dragonfly.
  • Mudbugs - I shouldn't even give this the dignity of space, but I feel I should mention this complete fabrication of the tourist industry. No one uses this term except for guys from freaking Omaha who wear Mardi Gras beads in the middle of July and have straw hats and wander into the housing projects accidentally. Yeah, that's his name, the idiot tourist. The term is 'crawfish', not 'mudbug', not 'crayfish', not 'crawdad'.
  • Muffaletta (muf-f@-LAH-t@) - an extraordinary Italian sandwich invented at Central Grocery on Decatur St.. It's made of ham, Genoa salami, mortadella, provolone cheese, and marinated olives on a round seeded Italian bun. This is jokingly referred to as the biggest Italian contribution to New Orleans, but if you ask me, it's a pretty damn big contribution, somewhere up there with Jazz and Mardi Gras.
  • Museum (myoo-ZAEM) - another one that has an odd pronunciation.
  • Nash (NAESH) - Nash Roberts, the Word of God during the hurricane season. He's a retired weatherman from one of the major local tv stations who is brought out of retirement every time a hurricane threatens the city. He works with a black and a red marker on a marker board with a map of the US (A friend of mine from Boston saw this and thought that's how we do weather down here), like he did back in the sixties and seventies. New Orleanians honestly will swear by this man's words, though in my experience he's wrong, and all the work is done by the regular weathermen anyway. But locals will 'wait and see what Nash has to say', and believe every word of it.
  • Neutral Ground (NOO-tr@l GRAEWND) - This is hands-down my absolute favorite local. It's widely used even nowadays by all generations in the city, it has a cool historical background, and it in itself is more important in New Orleans than in many other cities. Oh yeah, it means 'median'. The term 'median' is never used, ever. In fact, many New Orleanians will not understand you if you call it a 'median'. In New Orleans, they can be very very wide between streets (kids play football on them). Uptown, they're essential to parade routes (You're either on the curb side or the neutral ground side of a float) and streetcar lines. The name comes from the fact that in the really old days of the city, Canal Street divided two distinct neighborhoods: The French creoles on the east side, and the newly-arrived Americans on the west. There was not much amity between these two groups, but on Sundays they met in the middle of Canal Street to exchange goods and conduct other business. In this way, the piece of ground in between two streets became known as the 'neutral ground'.
  • New Orleans (NOO AW-l@nz/NOO OR-lee-@nz) - 'Proud to call it home'. I just want to make some notes on pronunciation here. The name is never 'NOO or-LEENZ' EVER (except in songs when it has to rhyme). Another wrong pronunciation is 'NAW-linz', which is a myth perpetrated by the tourist industry. Both of these pronunciations will immediately mark you as a tourist, and not just any tourist, but one that has no idea where the hell he is. However, when 'Orleans' is by itself, as in 'Orleans Parish' it is pronounced 'or-LEENZ'. Go figure.
  • New Orleans East - an area on the eastern fringe of Orleans Parish which ranges from rich mansions to poor slums to fishing camps on stilts.
  • Ninth Ward (NAINT wawd) - also called 'the Lower Nine', it is a traditional homeland of the Yats. Though most of the neighborhood has fallen to ruin, and many of the Yats have moved into St. Bernard Parish, the neighborhood maintains a particular New Orleans character, where there is a strong sense of community and small businesses thrive. Unfortunately, so does crime, and the Ninth Ward has become a place to go if you feel like getting shot.
  • The Northshore - refers to the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain, where a major subub of New Orleans is located in the towns of mainly Covington, Mandeville, Madisonville, and Slidell. This is where many people have moved to escape increasing crime and decreasing business opportunities in the city.
  • Nutria (NOO-tree-@) - a vile, vile rodent that is all over southern Louisiana and in the canals of Orleans and Jefferson Parishes. They are not native to the area, and the population grows at an unchecked rate since they are not a real part of the local ecosystem. Overpopulation leads to erosion and to general pest behavior (a nutria is basically a giant rat). Sometimes, the police will take it upon themselves to cruise around Jefferson Parish and shoot the nutria in the canals.
  • Parish (PA-rish) - in Louisiana there are no counties, because they are called parishes. It's also more commonly known as a church region, in this case usually Catholic. 'Parish' is used as the name for both political and religious divisions.
  • The Parish - refers to St. Bernard Parish to the southeast of the city, which is looked upon with a sort of tongue-in-cheek disdain by residents of other parts of the area. See Chalmette.
  • Parraine (pah-RAN) - godfather.
  • Pass by - it means to stop by, stop over, drop in, whatever. Just a quick visit, and not a drive-by.
  • Pecan (p@-KAWN) - a nut indigenous to the South, it is a main ingredient in pecan pie and and pralines. The pronunciation is not 'pee-CAN', and saying it like that will get you funny looks and hopefully a smack in the face.
  • Pernt (PERNT) - point, as in 'Algiers Pernt'.
  • Pistolette (PIS-t@-LET) - a small loaf of French bread.
  • Po-boy (PAW-boi) - a wonderful New Orleans sandwich on french bread, packed with lettuce and tomatoes and all kinds of meats, like hot roast beef, ham and cheese, fried shrimp, fried oysters, and much, much, more. a roast beef po-boy is by far the best sandwich in the universe. the sandwich was traditionally a cheap lunch for blue-collar workers in the city, stuffed with all kinds of stuff, but today, they're still pretty affordable but not dirt cheap, as they once were.
  • Podna (PAHD-n@) - 'partner' this word is used like 'bra', that is usually between men who don't really know each other
  • Praline (praw-LEEN) - a confection invented in New Orleans, made of sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, butter, and pecans. This word should never, ever, EVER be pronounced 'PREY-leen', at least not in this universe. We invented them, so we get to say how the name is pronounced. Plus, the latter just sounds stupid.
  • The Quarter (d@ KWAW-t@) - the French Quarter, which is actually a tiny section of New Orleans and the most unique - it does not at all represent the city as a whole.
  • Red Beans and Rice (RED beens @n RAIS) - a traditional New Orleans dish, it consists of kidney beans and ham, bell peppers, sausage and all kinds of stuff served over rice. It is traditionally served on Mondays because Monday was laundry day and housewives could let the beans cook while they did the housework. This formula of beans + rice is the nexus of many dishes, like white (navy) beans and rice, lima beans and rice, black-eyed peas and rice, etc. These dishes are usually accompanied with pork chops, sausage, or another meat entree.
  • The River - the Mississippi River (mis-is-IP-pee), so central to the city, is just referred to as 'the River'. No one ever refers to it as 'the Mississip'', except in songs.
  • Room (RUM) - pronounced with the vowel of 'look' and not of 'food'
  • Roux (ROO) - the base of many creole dishes including gumbo, it is a thickening agent made of equal parts of flour and fat. What it does is keeps the flower from lumping, making a thick, smooth liquid on which to base whatever dish you're making.
  • Sausage (SAH-sij) - sausage, particularly andouille sausage (aen-DOO-ee), is important to New Orleans cuisine. Notice the pronunciation is not 'SAW-s@j'.
  • Schweggman's (SHWEG-m@nz) - until recently, a local grocery store chain that was unique in that there was one in pretty much every corner of New Orleans, the sort of focal point in each community. Like many New Orleans businesses, it has gone out of business in recent years. The term is still used to refer to a grocery store in general.
  • Schweggman's bag (BAEG) - a unti of measurement of volume in New Orleans, referring to the old large brown paper bags they used to have. The volume is about three cubic feet, and the term is still used when speaking of volume.
  • Second-line (SEK-@n LAIN) - a Carnival Time dance, it usually involves a line of older women with decorated umbrellas strutting around to the tune 'Second Line', the anthem or Mardi Gras. This also happens at many a Catholic wedding, where everyone is usually drunk.
  • Seventh Ward (SEV-ent WAWD) - located around the Mid-City area, the Seventh Ward is considered to be the quinessential New Orleans neighborhood, and has produced many of our celebrities. It's usually the focal point of any linguistic study of the city because of its location and predominant social class, which is working class, but not poor.
  • Shoot-da-Chute (SHOOT-d@-shoot) - a playground slide.
  • Shotgun house - a style of architecture found all over the city. In the French style of planning, plots of land along a river are long and thin. So the houses also came to be long and thin. A shotgun house usually has a living room followed by a bedroom followed by a kitchen followed by another bedroom.
  • Show (SHO) - Locals will not say 'I'm going to the movies' or 'at the movies', but 'at the show' and 'I'm going to the show' are the local proper way to refer to the cinema. The moviehouse itself is a 'theater' pronounced 'thee-YEY-t@'.
  • Silver dime (SIL-v@ daim) - a dime, some people refer to them as silver even though they haven't been for quite some time.
  • Snowball (SNO-bawl) - Since it hasn't snowed here since 1988, it's not what you're thinking. Nor is it a deviant sexual practice (I can't claim this applies to the French Quarter). It's a frozen treat similar to a sno-cone, but made of 'shaved ice' and not crushed ice. The fine consistency of a snowball is actually closer to real snow than the stuff that falls out of the sky down here when it gets really really cold. And while sno-cones boast a few flavors, any given snowball stand will have 30 or more flavors, not counting 'cream' flavors (contains evaporated milk mixed in). some popular flavors are ice cream, nectar, dreamsicle, grasshopper, chocolate, and he list goes on and on. Toppings include cherries, cream, condensed milk, evaporated milk, ice cream, chocolate syrup, whipped cream, etc. They are sold at 'snowball stands' which are literally everywhere in the summertime, and a good source of employment for teenagers looking for summer jobs, as well as retired people wanting to earn a little extra cash. When you hear someone order a 'large ice cream cream with extra condensed milk', you'll undertsand why New Orleans is so fat.
  • to Stay - to live at a place. 'I stay in the Ninth Ward' means 'I live in the Ninth Ward'
  • Stoop - the front steps of a house, particularly a shotgun house. It's not quite a porch, and it's where people would just sit out and talk or do other leisure activities.
  • Storyville (STO-ree-vil) - considered to be the birthplace of Jazz, this area on the northern edge of the French Quarter saw its heyday in the early 20th century. It was shut down by the US Navy becuase soldiers kept getting VD from the prostitutes who sold their wares there (prostitution was legal). It declined into a slum, and then the Iberville housing projects were built, and crime reigned in the area. Today Iberville is being torn down and its residents relocated, and optimistic city planners hope to restore the area to its former glory as the true home of Jazz.
  • Streetcar (STREET-kaw) - a type of trolley that runs the length of St. Charles Avenue and parts of Carrolton Avenue uptown and Canal Street downtown. They're somewhat useful to Tulane and Loyola students without cars, and also to working class people and students along the lines, but their main purpose is historical, for they were once all over the city. The route along St. Charles is possibly the most beautiful area in the city, with large, old Victorian-era homes and huge live oak trees. It costs $1.25 to ride the streetcar for any distance.
  • Sug (SHUG) - short for 'sugar', it's a term of endearment used by Yat females, like 'heart'.
  • Terlet (TER-lit) - a particularly charming term, this is a toilet, or what you sit on to take a dump.
  • Throw me something, Mister! (THRO mee S@M'n MIS-t@) - This is what you say to a guy up on a Mardi Gras float when you want him to throw you beads, cups, doubloons, trinkets, or whatever the hell else you want.
  • Time Saver (TAIM-sey-v@) - an out-of-business convenience store characterized by a giant red triangle. The term is still used as a general term for convenience store. These stores were the origin of the ICEE frozen beverages which seem to be all over now, at least on the Gulf Coast.
  • Times-Picayune (TAIMZ-pi-k@-YOON) - the local newspaper, it has, for all practical purposes, a monopoly on the New Orleans newspaper market. There are no other major papers in the city.
  • Toot (TUT) - a wuss, a sissy
  • Twin-Span - The 5-mile bridge that takes I-10 (Interstate Ten) across Lake Pontchartrain.
  • Umbrella (@M-brel-l@) - notice the odd stress
  • Uptown, Downtown, Lakeside, Riverside - the four cardinal points, West, East, North, South respectively.
  • Valise (VA-lis) - a suitcase
  • Versailles (v@r-SAELZ) - see what I mean we don't care how the French say it?
  • Vets (VETS) - Veterans Highway (VET-tr@nz), the main traffic artery through Jefferson Parish, it is an example of urban sprawl at its very worst. The traffic is horrible and it's chock-full of chain franchises.
  • Violation (VAI-@-ley-sh@n) - someone from Violet, Louisiana in lower St. Bernard Parish
  • Warehouse District - (WAE-hows DIS-trik) an artsy area near the French Quarter where many of the old warehouses have been converted into homes.
  • The Westbank (WES-beynk) - the area across the River from the city proper, it includes Algiers, Harvey, Marrero, Bridge City, Westwego and other towns. The funny thing is, the Westbank is actually south of New Orleans.
  • Where you stay at? (WHAE y@ STEY at) - Where do you live?
  • Where Y'at? (WHAE YAT) - supposedly means 'how's it going?', but I rarely hear this, if at all, and I think most New Orleanians would agree. My guess is that it was an older slang that hasn't really come into the past two generations.
  • Whodat? (HOO-dat) - part of a chant for the New Orleans Saints that goes 'Whodat? Whodat? Whodat say dey gonna beat dem Saints?' Well, apparently everybody.
  • Wrench (RENCH) - to clean something under running water, or to wring dry.
  • Y'all (YAWL) - 'you all' the plural form of you. It's pronounced with no twang and less drawl than the rest of the South. No one ever uses 'you guys', which is very very unnatural to me and anyone else from here. Using 'you guys' will immediately brand you a tourist or a Tulane student form the Northeast.
  • Yat (YAT) - a speaker of the New Orleans dialect, derived form the phrase 'where y'at?'. It is also a particular worldview and lifestyle, namely simple,Catholic, and patriotic; and the term can be positive or negative, depending on how it's used. I use it in this write-up with in positive way.
  • Yeah You Rite (YAE yoo RAIT) - a statement of acknowledgement or agreement, very common. I wasn't aware I said this until very recently, but apparently I, along with everyone I know from here, say it all the time.
  • Zatarain's (ZAT-t@-RAENZ) - a local spice company, this is often used as a generic term for 'crawfish boil' or 'crab boil', terms for cayenne pepper, which is put on the tongues of little boys who say naughty words.
  • Zink (ZINK) - the sink, as some people say it. You would 'wrench ya hands in da zink'
  • And that's it...I'll add other items as I see fit. Also, these terms may not all be limited to New Orleans, and are used often in free variation with the standard terms when speaking in a non-colloquial situation.

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