Subscriber Services Weather

Burnett's Urban Etiquette

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Updated: the No Speak List

Last week I wrote about how disturbed I was to see a woman on television tell her corny boss to "keep it real." My problem wasn't the words but the likelihood that the woman had no clue where they came from and what they really mean.

When I lived in Sicily as a child my older sister and I made friends w/a bunch of the local kids. One day, a group of the older kids, with whom my sister had grown tight, decided to prank me. They called me over and told me they were going to teach me a little Sicilian. So I followed their lead and repeated the phrase they gave me over and over until it felt natural rolling off my tongue.

A short time later another older boy came strolling up, and the group urged me to practice my Sicilian on him. I was eager - stupid, but eager - so I walked up to him and said something to the effect of "Sua madre è un maiale grasso." Don't condemn me. I was 10. I found out only after the older kid had chased me on foot about half a mile that I had called his mother a fat porker. He didn't beat me like I stole something, though in retrospect I wouldn't have blamed him if he had. But the kid did cuff me about the ears a couple of times and scold me - in English - for repeating words I wasn't familiar with.

So after observing and overhearing a little more misplaced co-opting of hip-hop jargon over the past few days, I feel like we need a list.

If you are: over the age of 50, a boss of any kind, a parent over 40 who either has either never listened to hip-hop or hasn't in over 10 years, NOT a former rapper, an adult who lives in a home full of stuffed animals, a member of the clergy, an elementary or middle school teacher, a person who drives a minivan, a person who does not own at least one old-school hip-hop album, a person who still says "jiggy," or a person who still thinks Vanilla Ice represents the Miami rap scene, then you are forbidden for goodness sake from using the following words and phrases -
  • Yo
  • G
  • What up?
  • Dog (as used by American Idol judge Randy Jackson)
  • Homie
  • Home boy
  • B-boy
  • Fly
  • Peace (unless you are praying for it), and definitely not Peace Out
  • Dope (unless you are fiending for it)
  • Pimpish
  • Hollah (or holler, if you were an English major)
  • Anything that ends in "izzle"
  • Keep it Real, or Keeping it Real
  • Trippin'
  • Word, Word up
  • Chillin'
  • Down (as in "I am down for...")
  • Played, or played out (as in "People, who don't subscribe to hip-hop culture but insist on using old hip-hop lingo, are played out.")

If you have anything that should be added to this list, write back.


  • Also can't use:
    True, true dat or true spoke)
    Scrill or Scrilla
    Do the Math or Give me your Math
    Audi or ghost
    Jiggy or any variant
    Bling (although the word has become ubiquitous and has reached the status of "cool" or "hip" in unhip vernacular)

    These are just a few that shouldn't be used by Skippy the neighbor's kid. Or his mom. And especially not his grandma.

    By Anonymous Big Daddy, at 4:24 PM  

  • Hey! I'm sayin' hello to the 3-0 any day now and I own my own business and have six employees. Does that mean I have to stop. Hell no.

    Here are some helpful rules to play by. Don't keep up with short lived words. They are corny. Avoid most Southern slang, it's corny. (I spent several years and a bunch of summers in the South growing up but it still applies.) It all has to flow in normal converation. Don't force it in. Don't dumb down your conversation or assume exagerrated expressions or voices. Only use it with people that you know will know the meaning.If your not that articulate or well educated avoid slang altogether as it may be seen as the only way you can communicate due to the aforementioned deficiencies.

    By Blogger Miamista, at 4:42 PM  

  • I concur. I'm not exactly "hip" or "with it." As a mid 20's that likes some rock and classical, I avoid the hip-hop lingo, as I just don't "get it" and don't want to fake it. I like your etiquette concept and that's why I read it.

    By Anonymous ChrisA, at 10:02 PM  

  • My mom uses the word "dingleberry".

    By Blogger McDLT, at 4:33 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home