A (Minor) Celebration Of My Native Tongue: “Baltimorese”

I wasn’t born in Baltimore, Maryland, but I grew up there. Back in the 60’s, it was a lot less cosmopolitan than it is now (not that it’s “cosmopolitan” now). It wore its blue collar a lot more prominently then. Racism has always been alive and well in crab town.

I remember when Randy Newman wrote his song “Baltimore”.

“Beat up little seagull on a marble stair… Man, it’s hard — just to live”. Baltimore got upset…

We shouldn’t have. Randy Newman was being kind to the city.

Something about me and Baltimore never quite got along. There was nothing wrong with growing up in Crab Town. There was nothing especially right with it either — except maybe the crabs. For whatever reason, I could not wait to get away from Baltimore. I went to school in New York. Lived there for a while before heading west to LA — my home for 35 years.

I would have run further from Baltimore but I ran out of real estate.

Baltimoreans speak a particularly distinctive patois (you can hear examples of Baltimorese at the link). Watch most any John Waters movie and you’ll hear it — especially his more raw early work (“Pink Flamingos” or “Female Trouble”) with his original all Baltimore casts (Divine, Edith Massey, David Lochary). That mushy-mouthed approximation of English? That’s Baltimorese.

I was going through some old files the other day and found this “Fairly Compleat Lexicon of Baltimorese.

Now, please excuse me while I go “downy ocean” to eat some urshters with a nass, cold Natty Bo.

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