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You should watch your slanguage … you follow?

178999973_235203c364_o-225x300BIGRecently one participant on a conference call kept asking “You follow me, Brandie?”  Perhaps it was his Brooklyn-esque speech patterns, but what I was hearing was

Hey idiot, do I need to dumb this down for you?

That was cleared up a few days later, when during a one-on-one call I asked him “Do I present myself in a manner that leads you believe it’s necessary to speak to me like I’m four years old?” (ok, perhaps I didn’t say it in such an eloquent manner)  To which he replied “What the *f bomb* are you talkin’ about?” (I *heart* New Yorkers – no ambiguity)

I explained my perspective, and he replied, “It’s the equivalent of you Cali types following a thought wth ‘ya know’.” (“Cali?”  Totally not cool.)

Ah Ha!

… our regional slang is colorful and meaningful – to us – but it could be insulting to an out-of-towner.

Fast-forward to this post.  As my encounter illustrates, our regional slang is colorful and meaningful – to us – but it could be insulting to an out-of-towner.  What’s more, it’s fluid – evolving as new terms and phrases are created and edited from the mash up of regions and work functional areas & industries, thus increasing the chances of an unintentional insult.

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The takeaway

Make certain you know where your clients are from, and don’t ever assume they “get” your industry jargon or regional slang.

Just for fun

What are some of your regionally-specific sayings that those of us in “Cali” may not know.  (Somehow I’m thinking @GwenBanta will have some doozies).

Here are a few of my favs from the workplace.  Without the aid of Google, what do you think they mean?

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  • Seagull manager
  • Chainsaw consultant
  • Blamestorm session
  • Bis Cas Fri
  • Double-tap


Written By

Brandie is an unapologetically candid marketing professional who was recently mentioned on BusinessWeek as a Top Young Female Entrepreneur. She recently co-founded consulting firm MarketingTBD. She's held senior level positions with GE and Fidelity, as well as with entrepreneurial start-ups. Raised by a real estate Broker, Brandie is passionate about real estate and is an avid investor. Follow her on Twitter.



  1. Ken Brand

    April 1, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    I laugh when I hear the word, “ass-hat”. As in, she had here ass-hat on.

    Cheers Brandie. Bless your heart!

    • Brandie Young

      April 1, 2010 at 4:30 pm

      Hi Ken, I had not heard that one before … ew, it conjures a picture …

  2. Benn Rosales

    April 1, 2010 at 3:27 pm

    The worst from Texas, obviously, honey, hon, sweetie, babe, and the absolute worst ‘dear.’ I’m not originally from Texas, so when someone in authority uses these terms of endearment you know they mean well (or at least you hope) until you feel a smack on the rear.

    • Brandie Young

      April 1, 2010 at 4:30 pm

      Benn – i need to find a different term of endearment for you!

      • Benn Rosales

        April 1, 2010 at 4:52 pm

        Nope, you keep calling me all those nice words unless we’re negotiating! ha

  3. Rick @ Resell Rights Ebooks

    April 1, 2010 at 7:37 pm

    How are you bye?
    How she going bye?
    Where ya too?

    These 3 are very common where I am located which is Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada. Most locals greet people with the first two. The third is applied when asking where are you, where are you going, or where you are from?

    Over the past few years we had an influx of cruise ships dock at our port for the day before departing again. It is absolutely hilarious to sit in the local coffee shop and watch the tourist’s faces when they are being greeted by the counter staff or being asked “Where ya too?”.

    • Brandie Young

      April 1, 2010 at 8:16 pm

      Rick – Funny! I can get the 1st & 3rd, but wouldn’t be able to decipher “How she going bye?” At least I will now how to blend if I make it to your neck of the woods.

      My mom & her family used to say ‘Where ya at?” which didn’t have anything to do wtih your location – it was asking “How are you?”

  4. Andrew McKay

    April 2, 2010 at 5:36 am

    I’m English and been living in small town Canada for 2 years. The accent is a bonus, the blank looks when I talk sometimes not so good. “I love your accent so keep talking but I don’t understand what your are talking about ” is quite common ( I should add “ey” on the end of the sentence) but unhelpful when explaining something.
    I say meet you at “half nine”, you mean ” nine thirty.” “He’s a decent chap”, you mean “god guy.”
    “Mate” is my equivalent of “buddy” ( or bud as they like to say up here) but means your sexual partner in these parts. As I add mate on to the end of a load of sentences when talking to other men you can imagine.
    Still I can use English cuss words when playing soccer and the referee doesn’t realise how much I’m insulting him if I say it with a smile.

    • Brandie Young

      April 2, 2010 at 11:37 am

      Andrew – Funny! Sounds like you know exactly how to *work it* – and I love that you can say bad words and nobody knows. Thanks for commenting!

      • Andrew Mckay

        April 2, 2010 at 11:51 am


        I went to the university of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for year when I was 21 and had far more problems there with “slang” and actually being understood. On the plus side I really did learn to successfully “work it” there 🙂 pleasure not business though 🙂

  5. Missy

    April 2, 2010 at 9:42 am

    Brandie, I grew up in the South. I always say, Hey good to see you. Or answered emails with Hey Tom, how are you? Thinking of moving to Ann Arbor.

    My assistant at the time ( who is from N.J) told me to stop it as it was not custom to use that term everywhere.

    So I did in emails, but I can’t help it. I like to say Hey in person.

    • Brandie Young

      April 2, 2010 at 11:40 am

      Hi Missy, good to hear from you. I don’t think you should lose the “Hey”. It’s friendly and warm and people will get what you mean. Have a great weekend!

  6. PLR

    September 14, 2010 at 7:41 am

    The art of patience is being lost in today’s society, jumping to conclusions and assuming the worst is prevalent. Having said that not many people care… so what to do? Tell people to be patient and tolerant for as long as possible passing all anger boundaries they may think is limiting them.

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