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When You Are Told to Hit the Ram

Having settled in Brooklyn families not only had to learn English but they also had to understand Brooklynese. If you are not familiar with N.Y.C. then it simply means that each borough and also the neighborhoods had distinct ways of talking which differed from one to the other. I was born and raised in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, New York and I always loved saying, ”Meet me on toidy-toid Street”. What this odd saying meant was simply to meet me on 33rd Street in Brooklyn dialect. However, I never really got the accent because I spoke two languages – English and Latvian. So anyway you get the picture of what an immigrant faced. No one spoke just pure and plain English.

This grandma from a Latvian family had to go to the doctor’s office and was faced with a nurse who said to her, ”Siddaun” which of course to the nurse was normal speaking in Brooklyn but precise English would have been, ”Sit down” or even ”Take a seat”. It must have been a busy morning at that time. Now this grandma is listening with Latvian ears. And the phrase siddaun sounds like the Latvian version of sit aunu which means hit the ram.

Now, this poor grandma couldn’t understand why in a doctor’s office she had to hit a poor animal but if this was how things were done then she was only too glad to oblige. The only problem being that for the life of her she couldn’t see any rams in the office and certainly none that she could hit. It all only became clear to her when she recounted her experience at home and her laughing children explained the situation to her. What happened in the doctor’s office? Someone kindly seated her, the doctor checked her out and she went home still confused about the ram she had to hit.

  • Question of

    Is it sometimes hard for you to understand what someone is saying?

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  • Question of

    Do some accents and dialects confuse you?

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