Ashley Richards

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Losing My Native Tongue

April 26th, 2006 Posted in Jersey Dictionary

I recently realized that I’m losing my first language – and I spoke if for nearly 22 years. I have even lost my accent on most words, although some would say I never had an accent. If I talk long enough and you listen to me closely, you’ll hear one or two words missing their end “r.” The only one that I know I drop constantly is in “reservoir,” and I probably will always say it like that. Just like my Irish grandmother always said “tunder” for thunder and “tree” for three. (Sidenote: I once heard my mother tongue accent in a native Irish speaker.)

No longer do I the think in it. It just wasn’t acceptable to let anyone hear me talk in it, so what was the point of even thinking in it. When they heard it, they would think I was uneducated and definetely not from around here. Inevitably people didn’t understand what I just said, and I was tired of hearing the jokes that inevitably followed – especially whenever anyone caught a slight hint of my accent. People just aren’t accepting of foreigners. Sadly, I’m slowly forgetting all the colorful, almost poetic ways of describing things.

I haven’t seen a good dictionary for my native language, so I think I’ll start one here. The first Jersey-English dictionary. Jerseyisms. New Jersey that is – people from New Jersey never say “new”. It’s just Jersey.

Jersey-English Dictionary

josh v.
to tease, joke. Usually delivered as an insult, which is then presented as a loving joke. “Oh I’m just joshin’ ya.” Beware the josh – it could really be an insult.

rad-e-ator n.
dialect: northern New Jersey

The thing that heats your house.

sht-reet n.
street

ax v.
ask

Non-Jersey Words

Joisey n.
Beware any “locals” who use this word. They are not native Jerseyites. Only non-jerseyites say Joisey.

More to come…