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A Bostonian's Guide to the English Language


I was born in Norwood, Mass., learned to canoe and ice skate on Lake Hiawatha in Bellinham, Mass., attended Assumption Catholic School (uniform and all) for two years, and had my first taste of lobster at age four. I now live in Texas, but even though I'm not seeing the Charles River everyday, I think fondly of the architecture, food, people, and history that make Boston so special. I get back every chance I can to see family and take in the colonial ambience.
It's true that Southwest Airlines has been in the New England area for some time now, with our service from Manchester, NH, Providence, RI, and Hartford CT, but our arrival at Boston's Logan International Airport in August means we are landing in the heart and soul of some of the most interesting dialect and accents in the United States. Fellow blogger Bill Owen teased in an earlier blog post about how our Minneapolis/St. Paul service landed in the heart of "Um, yah, yah" land. Well, this native Bostonian is here to tell you our LUV jets are about to land in "Wicked Awesome" town.
In Texas, "fixin' to" and "y'all" roll off the tongue with ease. Same goes for "wicked awesome" (or any variation thereof) in Boston. The movie was wicked awesome, the traffic was wicked, did you see the Red Sox game? was wicked awesome.
So, yes, my New England family members joke about how I live in the land of cowboy boots, country/western music, and livestock. But, I joke right back, because there are some truly unique Boston phrases and terminology. Here is a short guide to help you translate their version of the English Language:

  • The letter "R" doesn't exist. Just substitute "ah." As in, "so deah, what rental cah company should we use to reserve a cah when we visit Boston?"

  • Pahking can be expensive. Cah pool, take the T, or visit an ATM for a small bank loan before traveling into the city.

  • New England clam chowdah is best eaten with oystah crackahs.

  • If you've never eaten a lobstah before, don't be afraid to ask a restaurant wait staffer for a lobstah opening lesson. If you're not from New England, using a seafood crackah tool will be foreign to you.

  • On wahm weekends and all summah long, New Englandahs (Bostonians included) head for the Cape. It's not Cape Cod. Just "the cape." Hyannis, Yahmouth, Plymouth, etc. Oh, and Provincetown is affectionately called P-town.

  • Women carry pocketbooks, not purses. This could be generational. Clearly I hang out with older people.

  • Bostonians refuse to admit that Interstate 95 exists. Their beloved, and crowded, Route 128 will always be Route 128, wicked old signs and all.

  • The Green Monstah. No, not something from the latest "Monsters and Aliens" movie. It's the famous wall at Fenway Park in Boston, home to the Boston Red Sox. They figured out a way to put seats on it several years ago. If you see a game at Fenway, find a street vendah selling sausage and peppahs sandwiches. Best ballpark eating anywhere.

  • Standard outdoor geah is anything North Face. No, Bostonians aren't logo obsessed. They just know how to beat the cold!


Lastly, Bostonians are fiercely proud of their sports teams. One of my cousins has a "man cave" in the basement of his Dedham, Mass., home completely outfitted with all things Celtics, Red Sox, Bruins, and Patriots. He has stadium seats, a row of lockers, pennants, and even his screen saver dedicated to his beloved sports teams.
If you have a New England experience to share, visit Southwest's Travel Guide and tell us about it. Was it wicked awesome? I'm all eahs.

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I thought it was Interstate 95, not 93, that Bostonians refuse to admit exists? This is from a personal memory. LOL. And I thought Houston was tough to get around...
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Wow, thanks for sharing that information. In Chicago it is also pocketbooks--not necessarily purses. And yes, it probably is a generational thing. I don't hear many people calling purses pocketbooks much anymore unless they are near old people at I am very glad that we decided to expand to Boston. I can't wait to visit!
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Ya, It's 95 that they tried to name 1-28, not 93. And as it turns out, that was a wicked stupid idea. Only those people from away call it 95.
Oops. Ya'll are right! (That's my Texan slipping through). It was a slip of the finger. It's 95. There's actually a hilarious highway sign just after the 93/95 merge (if you're headed toward Dedham) that has all the signs on one post (93/95/128). If you weren't from around there, you'd have no clue what road you were on! And, I could swear it looks so beat up that some angry road warriors must have tried to remove the 95 sign in the middle of the night! Great catch, readers! Sorry for the typo.