“Tawking” Like a New Yorker

January 30th, 2009 by Melina

Lesson 1 — Sentence Structure

Well. As you may know, I’m from California (“Upstate CA,” where it’s foggy, not to be confused with LA). But please, don’t let my Californian vowel sounds fool you. My mother’s family is from Queens, and I’ve lived in Manhattan for years now. So, thanks to nature and nurture, I am definitely a New Yorker.

However, my Uncle Steve is quite upset that I don’t “tawk right.” I’m getting better though. Working in Brooklyn definitely helps. I’m becoming more bi-dialectal every day.

So, lucky readers, I’ve decided to start sharing what I’ve learned about speaking New Yorkese.

I present to you, Lesson 1: Sentence Structure.

Sounding like a New Yorker is more than just dropping the r’s from the ends of your words. Sentence structure is everything. To prove this, I’m going to translate a simple sentence:

“I’m annoyed because my computer isn’t working.”

(I’m a computer teacher. I hear this phrase constantly. But I digress.)

Translation Process

Step 1: Remove the word, “because” and replace it with a period.

“I’m annoyed. My computer isn’t working.”

Step 2: Move “my computer” to end end of the second sentence.

“I’m annoyed. It’s not working, my computer.”

Step 3: Add a little drama. Try placing a sound of disgust before the first sentence.

Uch. I’m annoyed. It’s not working, my computer.”

Step 4: This is optional. If you are really annoyed, and are ready to throw the offending computer out the window, give your sentences some flair.

Somebody get the gun and just shoot me already. Uch. I’m SO annoyed. It’s not working, my computer.”

There you have it. Now, it’s your turn to practice.

Translate the following sentence:

“My apartment is freezing because my radiator is useless.”

To see the answer, select the white space below.

“My apartment is freezing. It’s useless, my radiator.”

Want to give the sentence more flair? Leave your ideas in the comments.

Homework: Watch the following video and discuss amongst yourselves. (For an even more fabulous Linda Richman video, which I sadly couldn’t embed, click here.)

YouTube Preview Image

Next lesson: When Harry Met Mary.

P.S. Forgot something rather important. For Part 2 of this lesson, click here.

Posted in Mel In Manhattan, Mel's Favorite Posts, Tawking New York

4 Responses

  1. Pam

    What a fun, fabulous post! You do it so well that I’m scared to try it, but here goes!

    My radiator? Ugh. It’s useless. My apartment is freezing. I’m just gonna throw it in the river and be done with it.

    Okay, so I improvised a bit. Can I be an honorary New Yawker? :)

  2. Robin

    I didn’t know you were from California!

    This was a fun lesson! But after you and Pam, there’s no way I’m going. :) Does it count if I love to eat New York pizza and bagels?

  3. admin

    Pam, I hereby pronounce you “Honorary New Yawker!” :-) Great job!

    Robin, or course pizza and bagels count! Yum!

    You both get an A++++, and I’m a very harsh grader. Nicely done!

  4. Marilyn Brant

    Just popped over to say “hi” and I read your hilarious post! Love the step-by-step tawking lesson :). Hope you’re having a good weekend!

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