The Costa Family

Our Travels, Hobbies, and Family

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Things to know about Boston

and how to talk Bostonese

The truth, now. How many of you'se said "Boston University" to the cabbie at Logan and ended up at BC? 
You're right. It wasn't a misundastanding. The cabbie knew you weren't bon heah, so he took you for a ride.

By now, you know that nobody in the Hub calls it Boston University. It's BU. We don't really call it the Hub, eithah, except in headlines. By the time you graduate from this page, you'll also be able to tell Southie from the South End, know how to pronounce Gloucester and who should have been at first base instead of Bill Bucknah.

You'll know who the cahdnal is, how to take the T to JP, and what the blinking red light on-top-a-tha old Hancock Building means in the summah. And if you're smaht, you'll know how not to get cahded at the packie.

Herewith, a student's survival guide to Bawstin: How we tohk: We don't speak English. We speak whatever they brought over heah from East Anglia in 1630.


The Bawstin accent is basically the broad A and the dropped R, which we add to words ending in A - pahster (pasta), Cuber (Cuba), soder (soda). For the broad A, just open your mouth and say "ah," like the doctah says. So car is cah, park is pahk. If you want to talk like the Mayah, repeat after me: "My ahnt takes her bahth at hah'past foewah." 
Getting back to the work Cubah. We say Cubah when it's at the end of a sentence. We say Cuber if it's followed by a word that stahts with a vowel, ie, "Cuber is". See? Simple, no? Let's use the two in a sentence. 
Cuber is a country 90 miles south of Florida. 
The country 90 miles south of Florida is called Cuba. 
And you thought it had no rhyme nor reason.

When we say: \ We mean:

b'zah\ odd

flahwiz\ roses, etc.

hah'pahst\ 30 minutes after the hour

Hahwahya?\ How are you?

khahkees\ what we staht the cah with -- or ahwah way of saying chino pants--repeat aftah me: 
To staht the cah, I removed my khahkees from the pocket in my  khahkees and put them in the ignition. See? Simple!

retahdid\ silly

shuah\ of course

wikkid\ extremely

yoose\ you, plural

hammah\ hammer


tim-aydah/ tomato

Now ya gettin' it


How we'll know you weren't bon heah:

You wear a Harvard sweatshirt.

You cross at a crosswalk.

You ask Susan Wells directions to "Cheers."

You order a grindah and a soda. It's a sub sandwich and a tonic.

You pronounce it "Wor-chester." It's Whostah. It's spelled Worcester.

You Pronounce it "Glou-chester." It's Glosstah. It's spelled Glouchester. Don't ask !!

You walk the Freedom Trail.

You call it "Cope-ly" Square. It's Cop-lee Square...spelled Copely... Again...Don't ask !! Take my word for it.

You say ant. It's spelled aunt. So pronounce it auhnt. It's not rocket science heah.

You go to BU.


Getting around:

Boston is a mishmosh of 17th-century cow pahths and 19th-century landfill penned in by water. You know, "One if by land, two if by sea." Remember that? It's required reading in any Boston kindahgahten. So isn't the"Old Ironsides" poem. THAT we had to memorize in kindahgahten. Don't laugh, it's true.

Charlestown? Cahn't get theyah from heah.

And which Warren Street do you want? We have three... plus three Warren Avenues, three Warren Squares, a Warren Pahk, and a Warren Place.

Pay no attention to the street names. There's no school on School Street, no court on Court Street, no dock on Dock Square, no water on Wahtah Street.

BackBay streets are in alphabetical oddah. Ahlington (Arlington), Berkeley, Clarendon, Dahtmith (Dartmouth), Exitah (Exeter), Feahfield (Fairfield), Glostah (Glouchester), there it is again.

So are South Boston streets: A, B, C, D.

If the streets are named after trees (Walnut, Chestnut, Seedah (Cedar), you're on Beacon Hill. If they're named after poets, you're in Wellesley.

Dot is Daugh-chestah (Dorchester) , Rozzie is Rosin-dale (Roslindale), JP is Jamaica Plain. Readville doesn't exist, only to those who live there.


The North-East-South-West thing:

Southie is South Boston.

The South End is the South End.

The North End is east of the West End.

The West End is no more. A guy named Rappaport got rid of it one night.

Eastie is East Boston.

The East End is Boston Hahbah.


About our "cuisine":

Boston cream pie is a cake.

Frappes have ice cream; milk shakes don't.

Chowdah does NOT come with tomatoes.

Soda is club soda.

Pop is Dad.

If it's fizzy and flavored, it's tonic.. ie.. Coke, Pepsi, RC (Royal Crown), Moxie, They're all tonics.

When we mean tonic water, we say tonic water.

Scrod (any small white fish) is whatever they tell you it is, usually fish. If you paid more than $6 a pound, you got scrod.

Brown bread comes in a can. You open both ends, push it out, heat it, and eat it with baked beans (on Sadiday).

They're hot dogs. Franks were people who lived in France. By the way, a frankfort isn't a hotdog until you put it in a bun.


People without last names: Bostonians know each and every one by their full names.









Things not to do:

Don't call it Beantown.

Don't pahk yaw cah in the Hahvid Yahd.

They'll tow it to Meffid. It's Spelled Medford.

Never, and I mean NEVER say: "Oh, you're from Boston? Pahk the cah in the Havahd Yahd." To a Bostonian. They hate that.

Don't swim in the Charles, no matter what Bill Weld tells you.

Don't sleep in the Common.

Don't wear orange in Southie on St. Patrick's Day.

Don't call the Mayah Menino "Mumbles." He hates that.



Johnson never should have hit for Willoughby.

The subway doesn't run all night. This isn't Noo Yawk.

Ray Flynn used to be mayah.

It's Comm Ave, Mass Ave and Dot Ave.

Yaz wore 8, Ted wore 9.

The drinking age is 21. If you use a fake ID, make sure it isn't from Mississippi.

Mit Romney, Volpe, and Sergeant were all Republicans, in the most Democratic State in the Union. Go figure! Oh, by the way....Massachusetts isn't a's a Commonwealth.

To get back to Logan from BC, take the Green Line to the Blue Line then grab the bus.


Things you should know:

There are two State Houses, two City Halls, two courthouses, two Hancock buildings. There's also a Boston Latin School and a Boston Latin Academy. How should we know which one you mean?

Route 128 is also I-95. But south of Canton it is called I-93. North of Canton it is I-95 again. Hm, it is also Rte 1...but only when south of Dedham.

The breakdown lane is for emergency stopping, except during rush hours... Then it becomes the high speed lane.

It's the Sox, the Pats (or Patsies), the Seltz, the Broons. The Sox play in Fenway Pahk... The Seltz and Broons play in the Gahden. The gahden is gone now, sigh. So, they use ta play in the gahden. But now they have a new Gahden...Because Bank of America didn't want it called the Boa Center. Think about that.

The Harvard Bridge


The Hahvid Bridge goes to MIT and a true Bostonian calls it The Mass Ave Bridge. Don't ask!

Now here's a trivia that no one knows and to keep it that way...please don't tell anyone what you're about to fine out.

It's measured in "smoots." Yes, the Hahvid bridge is measured in Smoots. What's a smoot? A true Bostonian knows what a smoot is, so read on and take this class.

Years ago, in the middle of the night (back in the fifties...don't quote me) a bunch of MIT students grabbed a classmate with the last name of Smoot and kept laying him end to end, on the sidewalk of the Harvard Bridge. They did it three hundred and sixty four times. Yes, that's 364!

At each length of a "Smoot" they painted a red line. Those lines stayed on the bridge for well over twenty years. Well, years later (in the seventies...don't quote me) The DPW put new sidewalks and because of public demand, repainted those red one-foot lines making us 'true Bostonians' very happy. 

The bridge is 364.4 Smoots, plus one ear long. By the way....That kid Smoot became the Federal Chairman of weights and measures. Or something like that. Really!!!!

Read all about it, directly from Oliver Smoot himself here:


The Hub:

A Bostonian once called this city the Hub of the Universe. It was - in 1775.

The Big Dig: The downtown highway project took longer and costed more than it should have. The ten yeah excuse for why traffic heah was so b'zah.

The old Hancock Building lights are actually a weather forecast:

Steady blue, clear view

Flashing blue, clouds due

Steady red, rain ahead

Flashing red, snow instead.

In the summer, flashing red means the Sox home game has been called off.