“Let me tell you about yo mama and yo daddy and their trip to Target where they met a metro…”

Downtown Roanoke, Virginia at nightThe language we use casually, which I’d describe as “urban language” really is a lot more interesting than more formal language. The thing that got me thinking about this was the whole “yo mama” thing. In my mind, if people would say “yo mama” referring to someone’s mother, then it would make sense to say “yo papa” to refer to someone’s father. But it’s not. It’s “yo daddy”. Of course, a lot of these slang terms don’t make sense. I went hunting on Urban Dictionary to get some common slang terms defined, and its’ rather interesting what you find, since the site collects definitions from its users. For instance, after hearing someone described as a “metro”, I went hunting, and found out that a “metro” is a male who’s not gay, but somewhat effeminate. Also called a “metrosexual”. And from what I can gather, the term “metro” comes from the fact that the person is more often than not found in an urban setting. It’s also interesting how we twist the pronunciations of normal words to provide a certain connotation. Put in the word “target” and you get people talking about the department store. One definition puts a French twist on the pronunciation, so that it’s pronounced “tar-ZHAY”. Upscale, perhaps? Admittedly, Target is basically a more expensive, preppy version of Wal-Mart. This perception gives rise to the French twist on the pronunciation. Similarly, my parents have always pronounced JCPenney as “JCPennAY” to give it that French twist, indicating upscaleness. You won’t find those pronunciations and connotations in any official literature from these companies, trust me. Still, the language says a lot about the culture, and ours is definitely an interesting one…


Date posted: January 1, 2004