Wicked Nizza!

On December 10, 2011, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times

On The Silly Side by Jimmy Del Ponte

(The opinions and views expressed in the commentaries of The Somerville News belong solely to the authors of those commentaries and do not reflect the views or opinions of The Somerville News, its staff or publishers.)

Somerville is packed with intelligent people who know how to “talk proper” when we have to. But that doesn’t stop us from reverting to our language comfort zone. Maybe when we are among fellow long-time residents, or lifers, do we go back to using good old Somerville slang. Now this does not include everyone so you may say, “Hey, I never said that!” Well, you may never have said it but a lot of us have! Most of these slang terms pertain to most of the Boston area also.

When we say “this afta” we mean this afternoon. Do you live in a 3-“decka” or a three family home? Once again I have enlisted the help of my friends to share some of their Somerville native local language, slang, and verbal gems.

Somervillians, or “‘Villens” as we have recently come to be known as, not only have the traditional Boston accent, but a few slang terms and words that we feel are our own. We didn’t invent these colloquialisms, but we sure used them a lot. Somerville people didn’t sit on the front stairs. We sat on the “stoop.” And often while we were relaxing and trading stories with our neighbors, we sipped a nice cold “tonic.” My uncle worked at the Cott Bottling Co. in Somerville. As the advertisement said, “It’s Cott to be good! When we were heading to Davis, Union, Teele or Magoun Squares, we were simply going “down the square.” We buy our liquor at the “packy.” We use “elastics,” not rubber bands.

We eat off plates instead of dishes and when you go down to the basement, you are in your “cella.” We don’t eat dinner we eat “suppa.” We don’t eat grinders, we prefer subs. I still hear some people say “brefast” instead of breakfast if they are talking fast. Only Somerville people know what sledding up Powder House means. We know that the rotary is the circle of hell. We eat Nutty Buddy’s (ice cream cones with nuts and a chocolate shell) not drumsticks. We keep our clothes in the bureau and sometimes the dresser. When we are out of milk and bread, we run to “Stah” (as in Star Market). We flick on our “blinka” instead of our directional. It’s not really cool…it’s wicked nizza (and that p- word !!) We sit on the piazza and the veranda, and occasionally on the porch.

We have somehow turned the one syllable word “mine” into a two syllable word and say “my-in.” Here’s an example, “Hey, that tonic’s my-in!” We drink from a “bubbler” not a water fountain, or dispenser. “Get out of here” was pronounced, “Get ahtah heah!” You do not “have to” you “hafta!” My son reminded me once that I said “troat” instead of throat. Maybe I should get my money back from Emerson College, the college of the spoken word!

“Na-ah” means no. Here are some names that only long time ‘Villens would know such as, Nan’s Sub Shop, Fields Stationary, and Apple -A- Day. Nan’s was a sub shop directly across from Somerville High School. Field’s Stationary was in Davis Square managed by our old friend, and Davis Square staple, Mr. Wise. And “Apple a Day” was a fruit and veggie store that was in Davis Square for quite a while. Only dyed in the wool Somervillians know who “Butchie” and “Brownie” are. I don’t even want to start the discussion on whether that stuff you put on spaghetti is sauce or gravy. FYI – in my family gravy is brown and sauce is red! And just so you all know, at this wonderful time of year PC stands for Peaceful Christmas.

All this talk of food is making me hungry. Excuse me while I go “up the house” to make myself a “wicked nizza sangwich!”


28 Responses to “Wicked Nizza!”

  1. j. connelly says:

    Well done Jimmy…..You should really take info from all of the articles & responses you get and put it all into a book…it brings back memories & info on the past in the city & how good it really was. How lucky we were to have lived in those great times.

  2. Joseph Keller says:

    What does “bastid” mean? :)

  3. No Barneys says:

    Let’s no forget the word Barney and not to mention the excessive use of the words buddy, kid, guy and pal.

  4. T.LaVita says:

    Hi Jimmy,I had to send the message all over because I messed up the Captcha code,isn’t that funny?Again I want to say,you did it again,the article was superb. The reason I care so much when you do the history of Somerville is because my husband grew up in the Ville,and told me so much about it.I will e-mail you and tell you all about him.you probably knew him,A wonderful guy.Your Fan in Mich. Toni.Again Merry Christmas,and a very Happy New Year

  5. jimmy says:

    Thanks everyone ! I have been thinking about putting a book together with my stories and comments !

  6. Jimmy fan says:

    Jimmy, you da man!

  7. mike says:

    I think your book would be a best sella. Go for it. Semma Pre, Boom, Boom, Boom

  8. Libertarian says:

    I’d buy a book of Somerville. Would remind me of a better time in the ville. The time before Progress.

  9. j. connelly says:

    There was a photographer, (Maclone??) across from St Ann’s. For years he took pics and the local paper & the Herald, (which then had a daily page set aside for Somerville news – “Somerville Stroller”) would use his prints. He took pics of everything, even when the city got new equipment for the DPW, Fire, Police, he would click a pic of it & it would then be in the paper. I inquired several years back from the new owner about old negatives as Maclone had taken a portrait photo of my brother & myself in our Fire Dept dress uniforms for our parents. Unfortunately the new guy said he threw all the negatives out when he took over. His loss as he could have made $$$ selling the old prints. So the point of this is…….

    Jimmy….Do it now…Don’t wait….Get the original out now & later you can add a sequel…

  10. Kellers Heros says:

    Joseph Keller says:
    December 10, 2011 at 10:31

    What does “bastid” mean?

    With the language you use to publish you cant figure that out?????

    a street slang language primer just for you…..

    wicked = very
    mean = much approval
    f@#$= just about any word regardless who is standing in ear range
    FO = I am still working on that one, but I dont think it is nice.
    dog = drug language for people, hey you!
    KMA = I dont like you or your opinion.
    BandE = somebody came to visit your home and helped them self!

    in several other states the A and R have meaning in the alphabet.

    hope that helps you….Sir

  11. Keller twin says:

    in next weeks class we will study humility and social compliance.

    a touch of humor!

  12. diction says:

    As always No Barneys, yes over used! nice offering…..

    keep the cards and letters coming, dude!

  13. A Moore says:

    Yeah, we have our own 24 letter alphabet. Ok Jimmy, woncha let us help you ight da book?

  14. Jimmy Del Ponte says:

    Everyone can help write the book ! I will include all the great comments ! In the Wicked Nizza article I left out “SCOOPING.” The art of going out and trying to pick up girls !! Then maybe we would go relax in he ” parlor? ( if her old man wasnt home !!! )

  15. teelesquaremayor says:

    Did people from the ville ever use the term “spucky rolls” as in when you go to the store pick up some spucky rolls for the sloppy joes.

  16. gary m. says:

    Hey Jimmy,
    Wicked, awesome, super, and da-best. Get goin on dat book. Tanks (and that’s not mispelled)!!!

  17. Jimmy Del Ponte says:

    Teelesquaremayor….. I have heard the word SPUCKY referring to submarine sandwiches. We called them SUBS… and sometimes.. GRINDERS.. My dad used the term SPUCKY too.

  18. teelesquaremayor says:

    thanks jimmy! We called em subs too but we called the rolls spuckies. we’d get a large meatball sub and it came on a spucky roll. Love your columns even though I’m an outsider.

  19. A Moore says:

    I haven’t noticed anyone using spucky or grinder terms in my years in Somerville. So I am going to have a cupa coffee and grab a slice and chill out..

  20. Libertarian says:

    Yeah, I never heard grinder either. Not til I moved to CT. Down here, you order a sub and they ask you what it is. Same with Frappe. Don’t think I’ll ever move to massachusetts again (It was a good 30 years, but I’m looking for a low tax, high freedom state to raise my family in), but I will always order frappes and subs.

  21. Loris Werter says:

    Why is it that immigrants have to speak English or else they are accused of being insular and ungrateful and Villens can speak bizarro language with impunity? Sounds like a double standard to me!!!

    Long live Nicked Wizza!!!

  22. No Barneys says:

    Somerville people are accused of being insular all the time..I rather enjoy it.

  23. Kellers Heros says:

    No Barneys, you enjoy being thought of as insular????

    oh well we all need a hobby or two!

       [in-suh-ler, ins-yuh-] Show IPA
    of or pertaining to an island or islands: insular possessions.
    dwelling or situated on an island.
    forming an island: insular rocks.
    detached; standing alone; isolated.
    of, pertaining to, or characteristic of islanders.

    I think the word you might use is insolent!
       [in-suh-luhnt] Show IPA
    boldly rude or disrespectful; contemptuously impertinent; insulting: an insolent reply. YES I know any body that speaks a wee bit of english can tell by the language that is used daily…in massa..fn…chusetts

    what do you mean somerville, just???????

  24. diction says:

    while you are arguing over what to call a sandwich it is not fit to eat, now it is so old!

    what you might think about is all the visitors to MA that speak english as a second or third language. They speak it better than all of us. When they go home they dig through a dictionary looking for the foul words they learned here….

  25. Kellers Heros says:

    Libertarian, I give you a quarter to come back and take keller with you!

    Freedom from vehement tirade, prolonged outburst of bitter, outspoken denunciation!! i got more humor….

  26. No Barneys says:

    I need Keller would be all over that one. Yes Joe i like that we’re insular, specifically because of people like you.

  27. Jimmy Del Ponte says:

    They can dig through the dictionary much like we would if we heard words that we didnt quite understand too. Its part of the culture of the Ville. ( and Boston ) And the words arent always foul,.If you want to hear some truly foul words, open your car window and drive through the Rotary at PowderHouse Square.

  28. Libertarian says:

    @Jimmy –

    LOL! That’s truth. Especially during the first couple of weeks after Tufts move-in day. Can also hear the same at the parking lot for the porter square Star.

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