If you plan to visit New York and use a proper English phrasebook to get you around, fuggetaboutit! True New Yorkers admittedly (and proudly) speak a version of English you can't even begin to decipher with a phrasebook. Whether it be years of immigrants melding their respective languages into one or just a random jamble of words, the dialect spoken here needs a bit of explanation.
First thing first, to speak like a New Yorker, forget the combination of the letters “T” and “H”. As in:
Dees, Doze, Dis and Dat (These, Those, This and That)
For whatever reason, these, those, this and that don't exist in New Yorker. Instead, D's are really popular and if you want to fake being a native, drop these and switch to doze.
Ga' Head (Go Ahead)
A phrase of encouragement. As in, “go on with your bad self”.
Get the Fuck Outta Hea (Get the Fuck out of Here)
Sure this sounds confrontational but its a term of disbelief more than anything. Scenario: “So Paulie (a common man's name in NY for some reason), I ran into Fat Lou dis morning and he told me that five guys rolled into the deli wearing nothing but speedos and cowboy boots.” Paulie “Get the F*ck Outta Hea”.
Da bot a’ yous (the both of you)
More than one of you. You and a friend are bot yous.
How YOU Doin? (how are you doing?)
Made popular by Friends, it's like asking how you are doing but with more intent. Put some emphasis on the YOU and you'll blend right in.
Fuggetaboutit (Forget about it)
Don't worry about it, it's all good. Also used to express that something is never going to happen as in, “You think you can get in her pants? Fuggetaboutit!”
Not a hooker but a single cigarette. Smokes in NYC are about $10 a pack so there is a huge demand for single cigarettes (at $0.75 a piece).
Directly translated to mother. Popular uses include: “I heard your mudder was sick? How is that old broad?” and “F*ck your mudder”. Both are quite different uses of the term but nonetheless very common.
People that either don't know or forgot your name will call you “boss” instead, especially if you go to the same bodega (the general store you see on every corner) more than once during your visit. You will feel like a big deal for no good reason.
If you get one of these thrown in your direction, know that you really f*cked up. The equivalent of being called a douchebag. Get your fight face on, shit's going down.
Used to up the level of any conversation. Feel free to stick an “eyyy” into just about anywhere. Beginning a conversation with it is more like a “hello”. Show emotion by throwing it in as an exclamation. Combined with random hand gestures, you can have an entire discussion about nothing using “eyyy” and leave satisfied. Moment of silence? Get your “eyyy” out and it won't be so awkward.
The above grab bag of phrases is a good start. If you have a handle of their uses, try saying them really loud, louder than you feel comfortable (aim for people being able to hear you within at least an entire city block radius), and you'll be on your way to truly speaking like a New Yorker.
Illustration by: Lydie Greco