New Orleans History -- Lake Pontchartrain
Friday, July 12, 2024
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Yat - What is it & who speaks it?

Yat IS spoken by many residents of our "city". The quotation
marks imply that most people who live in and around the greater New Orleans
area proudly claim New Orleans as their "city". They are black
and white, red and yellow, straight and gay, old and young, from the city
or from the suburbs or parishes. What makes Yats so special is our
tolerance of people who may not be just like us (whatever that may

We treasure the differences. We learn from the people who aren't
"like us". And we are all richer because of that. It's taken
about 300 years to get to this point. But what a nice place it is to

Yat is the gumbo of all of the past lives and languages. It's
French and Spanish, Italian and Irish, African and English, and whatever
else I'm leaving out. It's alive. It's unique. It may even be
genetically passed from one generation to another. We can get a fine
education and master the English language but in our most inner thoughts
and interactions we speak Yat.

Are there variations of the language we
call Yat? Surely. Ninth Ward Yat is not the same as Down Town Yat which is
different from Uptown Yat which may be different from suburbian Yat. But
anyone born and raised here can understand and communicate with any other

It's a language many of us try not to use when "we're
being professional". But no matter how educated or cultured some of
us like to think we've become, an "outsider" can spot us a
mile away.

We are who we are. We can't change that. And most of us
would not want to. Which is good because we are some of the nicest people
in the world. That's why people from everywhere visit our city again and
again. Yeah, I know, they come for the food and the Quarter, Jazz, Mardi
Gras, the Jazz Fest, and to see Bourbon Street. But they come BACK because
the people here treated them so well.

What I meant ta' say is dat day
come back heah because da Yat's treat em so good.
I had moved away the beginning of 1970 and lived up north for several
years. Although still in the States, I was just across Lake Erie from
Canada. I missed New Orleans everyday. I was homesick and cried alot. I
yearned for contacts. I searched the radio, and sometimes found connections
like Pete Fountain filling the airways. Then, I would cry some more,
expecially when they played Pete's "Do you know what it means to
miss New Orleans...."

Now, I have lived in some very progressive
cities that did and could still afford better professional opportunies,
city services, education, etc....But no where in the world is there an
energy as rich, creative, sultry, bekoning,and addictive as New Orleans.

I am "me" here more than any place else; more alive, more
intouch, more intune. I believe the energy here is what produces such fine
talent, not the gene pool. Talent of every medium is awakened and nurtured
by the very air we breath, and the powerful electrical charge we all feel.
We are all lured by this decadent and eloquent lady's magnetic pull. New
Orleans is beyond a place on the map, it is a state of mind and being.
Someone from New Orleans who speaks the local dialect. Literally speaking, "yat" comes from the expression "Where ya at?" which translates, in English, to "Where are you at" meaning "Good to see you! How are you?" It doesn't mean "Where are you located?"
Dawleen Battistella,

You awe tha best one in tawkin' in tha real ole New Awl-ee-yuns way. Ya know, like befoo-ah tha Sista's tried to teach us how'ta tawk right. An' like how we tawk when it's jus' us. An' how we tawk when weah not at work and don't hav'ta impress anybody.

Could'ya get us goin' on some topic usin'na local language? It doesn't mattah what yah tawk about. Jus' stawt talkin', will ya???
Hey, Dawlin' Hawt! I mus' have dat E.S.P.N. or sump'n, dere! Ah just po-sed a lil' note about dat Gentilly Woods website and when Ah looked up Ah seen dat lil' Kathy had sent me a note. Ain't dat nice?

Dawleen has been woikin' huh finga's to da bone, dere! Ah promiss ta git back maw offin', ya'll!

Meanwhile, Ah'll see ya'll in da gumbo, dere!

Dawleen Battistella
Watcha mean by seein' us in da gumbo?
Hey, Dawlin'! Ahm so glad datcha got ya l'il fawrum goin' agen!
When ya' sez "See Y'all in da Gumbo" its like sayin, "See Ya Laytuh" or, "See Ya in da Funny Paypuhs".

If y'all wanna see some real expoit Yat/Nint Wawd?Chalmeese tawkin', visit da St. Binawd/Plakamins fawrum on dat Inside N'awlins dot com website, dere! Mos'lee durin' da week in da mawnin's an' oily (early) aftanoons, dere!

Dawleen loves all 'a' y'all and Gawdbleshya, dere!
We have a great bunch of people in this forum who grew up in all different parts of the city (or suburbs). And we all know that (contrary to popular "Yankee" belief) there are/were different dialects in different neighborhoods.

I thought it would be interesting if you would post "New Articles" with a phrase in "English"--any phrase you can think of. Then each of us could respond with our neighborhood "translation".

For example if you posted "Are you enjoying the oysters, Mr. President?" I'd repsond with (suburban Metairie--50s to the present dialect):

"Howdahya like dese oiw-stahs, Mistah President"

But somebody in the parish (is that where Mayor Maistre was from?) would translate it as:

"Howya like dem ersters, Mistah President?"

Somebody from uptown, downtown, across the river (or wherever) might have a different "translation".

I'd be interested in seeing the differences. Whadayathink?
In my part of Metaire it was "Oiy-sters".
What was it in your part of town?
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How would you all say, "Would you like some mayonnaise on your shrimp?"
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"Ya want some mynez on ya shrimp?"

I've heard about various pronunciations (or mispronunciations) of "shrimp", such as swimp, swimps, srimp - even stwimps(!) - but we always just said "shrimp", in regular non-mangled English.
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Yeah, dat'swat we'd say too. Just like that.

My husband, raised far away from me over by Jefferson Highway, gets annoyed when I say "mynez". He corrects me everytime. I just reply "Yeah, ya right. I know it's "may-o-naise" but my Daddy always called it mynez and I'll always call it mynez too. Ya pain in'nee a.."
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In Jefferson where I grew up it was oiy-stus
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Someone axed how ta dis-kribe da way we tawk down below, heah! ("Down Below" was a way of saying that we lived in the "Nint' Wawd"). Ah wuz readin' summa dis stuff on ya website heah, Cathy, an Ah seen dis one diskripshun ba a nonnamuss poison (person) dat kawled it "Locally Mangled Grammar", dere. It wuz inklooded inna t'read (thread) on 01/24/02 called "New Aw-luns Talk was Fun", dere. Yah, Ah reely dig dat toim.........."Locally Mangled Grammah!", dere. Kicks, hanh?


Dawleen Battistella

Ah liked dat diskripshun too--"Locally Mangled Grammar". Ahm wonderin' if ya could translate it ta N.O. tawk faw me. Ya know like hah wood JU (Dawleen) say "Locally Mangled Grammar". If ya can translate it I'll change da page title fah dat section ah da website.

An' I was wunnerin' if ya know if "Wutchamacallit" is a local or not.
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Loc'ly Mangult Grammah? That's about the best I can do with it, Kiddo! Maybe we oughta just leave it as is.

And I believe "whatchamacawlit" is used far and wide, I've heard it in many places.
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We lived in Ohio and Pennsylvanis when my children were growing up. Saying "Yes Mam'" was consider very derogatory, "Slave Talk" I was told. So, among many Americans, particularly Yankees, it it quite insulting.

None of us has used the term of 30 years.
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and Southerners see it as an indication of good manners. Different strokes for different folks! I rarely hear it here in Canada, so I guess it's not in their tradition - eh?
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