A Student’s Guide To Bawstin

(for all of you who were not bon heah)
By John Powers, Globe Staff:09/11/97

The truth, now. How many of you said "Boston University" to the cabbie at Logan Airport and ended up at Boston College? You’re right. It wasn’t a misunderstanding. The cabbie knew you weren’t bon heah, so he took you for a ride. By now, you know that nobody in the Hub calls it Boston University. We don’t really call it the Hub, either, except in headlines. By the time you graduate, you’ll also be able to tell Southie from the South End, know how to pronounce Gloucester, and who should have been at first base instead of Bill Buckner. You’ll know who the cahdnal is, how to take the T to JP and what the blinking red light atop the old Hancock Building means in the summer. And if you’re smaht, you’ll know how not to get cahded at the packie.

Herewith, a student’s survival guide to Bawstin:

How we tok: We don’t speak English. We speak whatever they brought over here from East Anglia in 1630. The Bawstin accent is basically the broad A and the dropped R, which we add to words ending in A – pahster, Cuber, soder. For the broad A, just open your mouth and say "ah," like the dicta says. So car is cah, park is pahk. If you want to talk like the mayah, repeat after me: "My ahnt takes her bahth at hahpast foah.’

When we say: \ We mean:
bzah: odd, or a place where they sell stuff.
flahwiz: roses, etc.
hahpahst: 30 minutes after the hour
Hahwahya?: How are you?
khakis: what we staht the cah with
pissa: superb
retahded: silly
shuah: of course
wikkid: extremely
yiz: you, plural

How we’ll know you weren’t bon heah:
You wear a Harvard sweatshirt.
You cross at a crosswalk.
You ask directions to "Cheers."
You order a grinder and a soda.
You pronounce it "Worchester."
You walk the Freedom Trail.
You call it "Copely Square."
You go to BU.

Getting around: Boston is a mishmosh of 17th-century cow paths and 19th-century landfill penned in by water. You know:"One if by land, two if by sea." Charlestown? Cahn’t get theyah from heah. And which Warren Street do you want? We have three:plus three Warren Avenues, three Warren Squares, a Warren Park, and a Warren Place.

Pay no attention to the street names. There’s no school on School Street, no court on Court Street, no dock on Dock Square, no water on Water Street. Back Bay streets are in alphabetical odda. Arlington, Berkeley, Clarendon, Dartmouth. So are South Boston streets: A, B, C, D. If the streets are named after trees (Walnut, Chestnut, Cedar), you’re on Beacon Hill. If they’re named after poets, you’re in Wellesley. Dot is Dorchester, Rozzie is Roslindale, JP is Jamaica Plain. Readville doesn’t exist.

The North-East-South-West thing: Southie is South Boston. The South End is the South End. The North End is east of the West End. The West End is no more. A guy named Rappaport got rid of it one night. Eastie is East Boston. The East End is Boston Harbor.

About our "cuisine" : Boston cream pie is a cake. Frappes have ice cream; milk shakes don’t. Chowdah does not come with tomatoes. Soda is club soda. Pop is Dad. If it’s fizzy and flavored, it’s tonic. When we mean tonic water, we say tonic water. Scrod is whatever they tell you it is, usually fish. If you paid more than $6 a pound, you got scrod. Brown bread comes in a can. You open both ends, push it out, heat it, and eat it with baked beans. They’re hot dogs. Franks were people who lived in France in the ninth century.

People without last names: Dapper, Whitey, Raybo, Larry, Natalie, Roger, Julia and Yaz.

Things not to do: Don’t call it Beantown. Don’t pahk your cah in Hahvid Yahd. They’ll tow it to Meffa. Don’t swim in the Charles, no matter what Bill Weld tells you. Don’t sleep in the Common. Don’t wear orange in Southie on St. Patrick’s Day. Don’t call the mayah "Mumbles." He hates that. Don’t ask what she’s majoring in. You don’t care.

Things you should know: There are two State Houses, two City Halls, two courthouses, two Hancock buildings. There’s also a Boston Latin School and a Boston Latin Academy. How should we know which one you mean? Route 128 is also I-95. It is also I-93. It’s the Sox, the Pats (or Patsies), the Seltz, the Broons. The Harvard Bridge goes to MIT. It’s measured in "smoots." Johnson never should have hit for Willoughby. The subway doesn’t run all night. This isn’t Noo Yawk. Ray Flynn used to be mayah. It’s Comm Ave, Mass Ave and Dot Ave. Yaz wore 8, Ted wore 9. The drinking age is 21. If you use a fake ID, make sure it isn’t from Mississippi. Argeo Paul Cellucci, the governor, is just acting. To get back to Logan from BC, take the Green Line to the Blue Line – then grab the bus.


The Hub: A Bostonian once called this city the Hub of the Universe. It was:in 1775.

The Big Dig: The downtown highway project that’s taking longer and costing more than it should. The latest excuse for why traffic here is bzah.

The old Hancock Building lights are actually a weather forecast: Steady blue, clear view. Flashing blue, clouds due. Steady red, rain ahead. Flashing red, snow instead. In the summer, flashing red means the Sox home game has been called off.

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