Monday, June 23, 2008


I'm a young bol, which in Philly-talk means, a guy under thirty. Next year I'll be considered an old head. Of course, by then the language will change. Slang is short-lived; the language reflects its urban originators, whose median age is 23 (nationally, the statistic is early thirties).

I'm a lover of language. Etymology enthralls me; a thesaurus enchants me; and I'm a geek for slang. Each subculture has its idioms, jons, and vocabulary. I couldn't learn it all 'in a minute' even if I tried.

But I did learn a few terms this weekend, both from the street and the construction site.

The men in our church did a two-day work project at CE National's Urban Hope Training Center. The ministry comprises more than seven facilities spanning a single city block. We worked in the youth center basement: moving cement, dumping trash, fixing plumbing, wielding power tools, and building a wall.

Men bond well around piles of sawdust and stacks of treated 2x4s. Those with calloused hands and splinters taught the ones with paper cuts and carpal tunnel the lingo of construction. I learned that cripples and studs have nothing to do with your gait and hairstyle, but they are support structures within a wall. I learned that plumb wasn't just a fruit but a wall that stood flush, erect, and level. And I discovered that Sawzall was not a country in Africa, but a prototype reciprocating saw tool useful for deconstruction.

I grew my vocabulary from hammer and nail to chop saw and Remmington actuated fastener, and I may have grown some chest hair in the process.

1 comment:

willtolive said...

or better yet, some ear hair!