The use of street slang phrases has become increasingly popular in modern times and there is an abundance of examples available to study. If one is fortunate enough to live in a bilingual country, then the odds are that the language used around the corner is also both your mother tongue and your father tongue. The problem arises when the latter is English.
Many of the colloquialisms used by non-English speakers tend to be highly specific and may not be acceptable anywhere near the English language, let alone informal speech. Let us look at three examples of what I consider to be highly relevant (and colorful) slang terms with which we English speakers should always be familiar.
The first of these three examples of street slang phrases are most commonly found in New York. The word “nyow” is derived from two words: you (short for you) and oh (short for you that’s), which are an ony (you) word used by black Americans. In the song, Fats Domino, Michael Jackson uses the word yoh on a number of occasions, such as in the chorus where he asks, “Yee, yo, yeah, yo, I got a big list o’ names.” In this context, he is asking (in English) “Who’s your favorite?” (ymes). The origin of the word is, of course, completely irrelevant to its usage in this song; but it is important to know where it came from so that we can appreciate just how diverse and colorful some of our own languages can be.
Another example of common street slang words is “cyah” and “nuh”. The former is short for “day”, while the latter is short for “night”. To put it another way, the former is used to refer to a day off work while the latter is used to describe a night out. A cyah is also known as a cab, while nuh is commonly used to describe someone who is drunk. For example, “I was supposed to get back to the club, but I pulled over, instead, I went for a ride with my buddy.”
Street slang words and phrases are extremely popular with native speakers of American English. They enable the ordinary person in America to communicate with people from around the world. As well as making casual use, these phrases and words are often used in everyday business conversation. This means that you will come across a lot of them being used in pickup lines, ads for taxis, conversations on the street, and so forth. Some more examples are dummy thicc, thick, thicc, gilf, etc.
An example of one of these powerful street slang words is “gwaan”. This is actually a variation of the English word “getaway”. Gwaan is used to describe a spot where there is no immediate pickup or drop-off. “Gwaan” is commonly found on signs used to locate businesses in a no-drop zone.
One example of a very popular baby Yuh language is “inna combs”. It means “without a comb”. Some people might be surprised to learn that this phrase originated from Brazil. The phrase originated when an indigenous baby was being taught how to bathe himself by pulling his hair. Due to the length of the hair, he used combs that were attached to sticks to untangle the hair which he then rubbed against his face.
Another example of a very popular baby Yuh language is “deh yah enuh”. This means “to drink (or eat) the urine”. An indigenous baby would be made to stand by a hole in the fence so that someone would throw a bucket of urine down the hole. When he finished, the child would be asked to drink some of the urine, brush his teeth using the bucket and eat some of the urine as well.
A unique example of a baby yuh language is one that was recorded by a tourist in Cancun. The man could not understand many of the phrases that were used in the Cancun area. He was able to identify some of them though because he had been hearing them all of his life. He was able to give names to some of the streets in Cancun that have the most commonly used Yuh language.