What People in New Orleans Say, and What They Actually Mean

Mardi Gras party
wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock (edited)

People in New Orleans have a very distinct way of speaking that is often imitated (badly) in movies, TV shows, and books about child-adopting vampires that are still better love stories than Twilight. And while we’re not all voodoo queens portending bad gris-gris in cemeteries at midnight, there are some phrases that only make sense within the city limits. Here’s a helpful translation guide to pass along to all your "Yankee" friends.

"Bet I know where you got them shoes."

Translation: You look like a tourist. Can I have some money?

French Quarter new orleans
<a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/gallery-611893p1.html?cr=00&amp;pl=edit-00">f11photo</a> / <a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/editorial?cr=00&amp;pl=edit-00">Shutterstock.com</a>

"Ugh. I never go to the Quarter."

Translation: I moved here five minutes ago, and, from what I understand, not going into the French Quarter makes you legit.

"Parking $10."

Translation: I do not own this parking lot, but again, you look like a tourist, and I would like some money.


"You want that dressed?"

Translation: There’s no way I’m giving you a dry po-boy if you are older than 10, but asking makes me seem polite.

"You know we passed a good time."

Translation: We drank until someone fell over, and then we helped that person up and continued drinking for about two hours after that.

New Orleans
Flickr/Exile on Ontario St

"Hang on. I gotta get down and make groceries to the Rouses."

Translation: I need to spend about two hours buying $400 worth of onion, celery, bell peppers, red pepper, and rice, and afterwards will still need to head out to Algiers, where I buy my sausage out of a cooler from a liquor store because it’s the best.

"Awww. You're cute."

Translation: This is next-level shade. It really means: you are not cute, and I hate you.

Chartres street new orleans
Fotoluminate LLC/Shutterstock

"It’s pronounced ‘Charter.’"

Translation: I have now lived here 10 minutes and correcting people makes me feel less out of place.

"All these Yankees are on my nerves."

Translation: People who live north of Slidell or west of Thibodaux are not from this state and have no business calling themselves Louisianians.

Faubourg Marigny
<a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/gallery-117169p1.html?cr=00&pl=edit-00">IrinaK</a> / <a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/editorial?cr=00&pl=edit-00">Shutterstock.com</a>

"Frenchmen's gotten just as bad as Bourbon."

Translation: Hanging out in the Marigny basically makes me a music critic.

"My nainaine and parrain over by my mama's, so you know I gotta pass by the house."

Translation: I can’t hang out at any point today because my godmother and godfather will hound me to my grave and then into the afterlife if I don’t spend this entire Sunday eating with them at my mother’s.

Popeye's rice and beans
Cole Saladino/Thrillist

"I feel like I could maybe eat some red beans & rice."

Translation: Do you want to go to Popeyes?

"It’s a Chalmation bar."

Translation: People who live outside the city have no business coming in for any reason, and I will not frequent any bar populated largely by people from Chalmette for fear that I’ll catch whatever brain-eating parasite caused them to drift downstream.

new orleans drinking ordinance
Flickr/Quinn Dombrowski

"I can get a go cup?"

Translation: I know I can, and I’d like one.

"Y’all quit messing around out there on my banquette."

Translation: Neither Camille nor Katrina could make me leave this block in the city, but these Airbnb Yankees have got me considering a move to Metairie.

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Emily Alford keeps her expectations for supermarket sausage incredibly low and is still usually disappointed.