New York Speak (Speech Memes)

borgI have a lot of clients in New York. I was emailing a friend (in New York) about the similarities in their speech…

“I’ve gone on hysterical tears about things New yorkers say.  I had a friend going there to sell her goods at a convention there.

At the end of the day…
At the end of the day…
At the end of the day…

I told her to expect to hear that said a million times. She’d have to try not kill herself or bang her head into a wall, because of it.

New Yorkers sound smart and organized. They sound educated…”

“There is rushed pace. People call me as they walk to where they’re going, or as they get a cab. They talk in the cab. There is way you talk when people are listening, maybe?

I think that must be what it is. They are talking to me, but people are near them. You have to adjust your voice for that…”

I explained, I can tell the difference between a New Yorker and someone who goes between New York and New Jersey. It’s like the variation in southern accents or in the Spanish is spoken in different regions.

As for the common phrases, I think “speech memes” are relatively new. My guess is that it’s tied to the Internet, but I’m not sure.

People cut and paste other people’s ideas. This is a new capability and it’s bound to have an affect. There are people who wake up every morning, hoping to go “viral”.

That’s the perfect word for this.  It’s possible to introduce a phrase (or an idea) into the collective, as if it were a petri dish…and then watch it replicate.

I can’t stand this, myself. I’m drawn to people who are creative and original, who think independently. In fact, here is a vintage rant on this topic – Quit Fixing People – How To Have No Friends At All

Uranus and Pluto are messin’ with my natal Mercury – does it show?

What phrases are overused in your region?

Related Post


New York Speak (Speech Memes) — 24 Comments

  1. Well, at the end of the day the bottom line is, it is what it is, we are what we are. …cabbie you can pull over right here and I’ll get out – 😉

    I’m an aquarian with sun in 1H – I’m a tad quacky – does it show? *snicker* *snicker*

  2. I live in Melbourne, Australia and I love Aussie rules football. It seems to me that when the players are interviewed, they so often start their sentences with the word: “Obviously” It’s not the coaches or commentators and not by State or city. Just the football players of any city that play in the AFL! Obviously, obviously, obviously…… That’s been for a few years now…doesn’t annoy me but is very obvious to me.
    Years ago when I lived in country QLD people used to say: “Aye but..”
    Teenagers in QLD were saying “sos” instead of sorry a few years ago.

  3. I know exactly what you’re talking about 🙂 I grew up right on the CT/NY border. I can always tell a New Yorker. Especially a Long Islander, those people are really distinct. Jersey is harder, they’re like a mellowed out NY usually. Or they’re over the top. “Here’s the thing” is another big saying with them.

    When my bff and I moved out to NV and CA everyone always made fun of how we talk like valley girls, so I’m guessing thats how people in CT sound.

    People in Maine say REALLY weird shit. I can’t think of any examples, but if you want speech memes that is the place to go!

    • AND BOSTON. I can’t believe I forgot about them. When I went to school there a few years ago every other word was wicked and hella.

  4. How I hate “at the end of the day”. !!!

    In Texas, we are always “fixin’ to” do something. It sounds perfectly normal to me. I’m sure I could come up with many more, but I’m fixin’ to go to work.

  5. Hi Elsa: I’ve been a “New Yawker” all my life. I remember back when the image of a NY “cabbie”, sticking his head out the window and yelling “Take It Easy!!!” was pretty much the symbol of fast-moving, fast-talking New Yawkers. Nowadays, people in the city are movin’ at “overdrive” speeds. Literally waking up in a “super-grande-caffeinated” mode. Attention spans are a thing of the past, multi-multi tasking is the norm. “It Won’t Be Long” (to quote The Beatles – Happy 50th (TODAY!) at NYC’s JFK), before “the machine” really starts to deconstruct and break-down. But, isn’t that “The Plan?” For those of you, unfamiliar:

    • 80% of the conversations I have with NY’ers – they are in motion. They are going to work, going out, going to pole dancing class, taking their dog for a walk, walking another person’s dog…invariably, they’re going somewhere.

      I have Mars conjunct Mercury so I am all for the, by the way. I am totally used to being abruptly cut off, because of another call coming in…or the person stops talking because there is someone listening, or whatever.

      I *like* this.

      I do understand, you have to talk to your dog, while you talk to me, and/or converse with the cad driver, or whoever.

  6. I live in a small village in Europe, I don’t travel and English isn’t my native language.
    I find all this absolutely fascinating.
    (I like “I’m fixin’ to” best).

  7. I grew up in the midwest (years ago) and never lost my accent. I miss the “doncha know”, and “I tell ya” at the end of sentences. I moved from one state to another and went to a new school where I was warned about initiations in the bubbler. I guessed it was a machine used to regulate heat in the basement. My first week as a 7th grader I was doused with water from the bubbler – a drinking fountain!

  8. LOL I am so close… yet so far away. I grew up in suburbs an hour outside NYC, and I’m virtually the only one from my age group who has decided to stay in my boring old hometown. I can adapt to the city in a snap, but I prefer a country life… Actually I love the South. I like to take things nice ‘n’ easy… this Taurus enjoys the slower pace. I do love my grandma’s stories of growing up in Manhattan, and NYC is my favorite city in the world. I lived and went to school there for a good 9 months, and decided it’s just not for me – not to live in. I would rather commute! Even when I go in for a night to party with my friends, I always want to take the last train home to get back to my own bed.

  9. I think the word ‘meme’ is new but there is nothing new under the sun.

    By chance, reading Maugham’s ‘Cakes and Ale’ (1930) tonight wherein his narrator says this:

    ‘The Americans, who are the most efficient people on the earth, have carried this device [the use of “ready-made phrases”] to such a height of perfection and have invented so wide a range of pithy and hackneyed phrases that they can carry on an amusing and animated conversation without giving a moment’s reflection to what they are saying and so leave their minds free to consider the more important matters of big business and fornication.’

  10. Some expressions depend on the user’s age, and there are some expressions you just don’t hear anymore, like “for cryin out loud,” which my dad used to say. I’ve started saying, “oh brother!” just because I like the ring of it. The most colorful expressions I’ve ever heard came from a roommate from Texas who sounded a bit like Dolly Parton. She wasn’t at all cute but her expressions were adorable!

  11. Bronx, New York born and bred…. hahaha I love it! You have to keep the pace here no doubt! But I tend to think we are all original in this place. New Yawk accents…. when you are from here you can tell Brooklyn from Queens. And in Manhattan or downtown as I call it…. everyone is fabulous. Most definitely their own lingo in their land of fabulosity. My daughter speaks that language as she works in the city in the fashion industry. As for our multi tasking abilities, we text , talk , yell at the kids, while paying bills on the internet with lunch in our laps. I stand mostly when I eat lunch, because why bother sitting down. Don’t get comfortable, have to run somewhere to do something. Sleep as little as possible because why waste downtime on sleep. After all the city never sleeps why should we.
    I’m old now (over 50) and live on Long Island. But life never slows down…. and neither do the property taxes or much else for that matter. Milk is almost 5 dollars a gallon. To park at the beach is 10. So you have to get up and go. Sell sell sell and try to get there before someone else takes your milk money! But you gotta love it!!! It’s New Yawk!!!

  12. first time I went to NY I was so naive, shop girls would smile to me and ask”hello how are you?” and I used to answer back but they were not listening anymore.
    I also got an adrenaline rush from residents’ way of talking, I liked it!I’m pisces mercury conj chiron,emotional communication and perception,curiosity and rhythm.I’m very reactive to pace changes.In NY I felt like I was spinning around all the time.
    I’m not comfortable with packed sentences, even though they sometimes help me to keep a distance and handle the vibes I get from people.I don’t like to be forced to say something If I don’t have anything to say,as well.
    In Italy we have plenty of them, varying from region to region.there’s literally “what do you say?”(american “what’s up?”),then they look elsewhere, imported from Naples.a way to fake interest in someone and icebreaker in conversation, not meant to be answered back.
    now it’s very popular to answer “absolutely yes!!”instead of plain “yes”
    In Rome, my hometown where I live, average speech tone is not very attentive nor’s as if nothing could choc a roman anymore,after all they’ve (collectively) seen through centuries.

  13. Downtown New Yorkers must all be extroverts! I could never have a conversation, especially an important one like talking to my astrologer whilst walking to a cab or with other people around me! And that fast pace….its a city of extroverts. Has to be!

  14. They also talk to me until someone comes to the door with their dinner. They answer the door, pay for the their food…

    “Keep the change,” they say. “Elsa, I have to go – my food is here.”


  15. Well, I guess I have to chime in on this subject because I’m a native New Yorker and I’ve never heard anyone say some of the things you’ve mentioned, such as “at the end of the day.” I don’t even know what that means or why anyone would say it. I guess I’m not hanging out with the hipsters? A few of the New Yorkers on here mentioned that they could tell the difference between a Brooklyn or Queens accent and that’s someone that most of us who live here can do. And then there was someone who said that downtown New Yorkers were probably on a faster speed than the rest of the city, and THAT’s true as well. I used to live on the Upper West Side and we were a little slowed-down compared to the downtowners. However, if I was walking somewhere, especially to an appointment, and if someone asked me for directions, I am capable of giving directions and continuing to walk to my appointment. I don’t have any of those “sayings” that you mentioned and I was thinking that maybe because I have natal Mercury trine Uranus, that I tend to be kind of original in my speech patterns. I don’t use typical New York City cliches, like “not for nuthin'” which I hear a lot from Brooklynites. At any rate, before I retired (I’m now 63), I did everything fast. I worked in New Jersey for 10 years and someone I worked with once told me that when he met me (when I was 26), he couldn’t deal with me because I was (in his words) “spilling” out of myself. So, I think that New Yorkers do tend to be hyper but they mellow out as they get older. The one thing I always tell people about us crazy New Yorkers is that even though we’re come across as loud mouths, we have hearts of gold. And, P.S., I’m an introvert so I don’t even know how I’ve managed to live in this city for 63 years!! But I just love it here, so I’m here to stay.

  16. I just had a client provide the contact info for her cleaning lady, to one of her friends, in the middle of our convo.

    And this:
    “I had one guy tell me I was too affluent for him. I’m too affluent! Well he was too gay for me, but I didn’t tell him that. I didn’t say, you’re too gay for me, and you should like my nice apartment, if you’re gay as you are!”

    ha h aha

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *