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Old 09-12-2019, 09:47 AM
61 posts, read 55,547 times
Reputation: 117


I've lived here nearly all my life and grew up hearing the "Yat" dialect (so called because the old-timers who spoke it, the "Brooklynese" sounding people, would ask you "Where y'at?" instead of "How are you?"). "Neutral ground" stems from the time when the city was divided into the Creole/French sections, the French Quarter and downriver from it, and the American sectors, upriver from the Quarter. The Americans and Creoles disliked each other, but had to do business together. So they met on the grassy strip down the middle of Canal Street, on "neutral ground."

No, there never was a canal on Canal Street. It was built wide for that, but the canal was never constructed. (Typical of the way this city does things.) For a time the city changed the name to, I think, "Touro Avenue," after a prominent local businessman. Nobody called it that. After a year the city quietly changed it back.

My mother was Canadian, so I grew up speaking like William Shatner and Michael J. Fox. But I learned the Yat dialect and spoke it as a kind of second language, and still can, when I find someone who "tawks like dat."
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