Sunday, December 30, 2012

Burnah (slang):

This morning I weighed 220.8 pounds. I’m now entitled to imagine that I have dropped a 4-pound weight that I used to carry everywhere. It’s not surprising that I'm more active.

One of the pleasures of getting old is the ease with which one recovers the memories of youth. This morning, I recalled “burnah”, a slang word that may have died. (I can not find it on the Internet.) The word may have been local to my part of Nassau County, Long Island, NY, where I grew up. It might even have been coined by the one member of our childhood gang whose parents spoke German in the home. That boy certainly spoke “burnah” with relish.

The word’s two syllables were both accented, and both drawn out to taunt: burrrr-naaaaah. Those two syllables carried a wealth of meaning, more or less equivalent to this: Envy me, you poor, miserable suckers! Here are a few samples uses:

Did you hear that Jackie Robinson stole home yesterday? I was at the game, my dad took me. Burnah.

My new toy machine gun can kill all the cowboys and indians at once. Burnah.

For maximum effect, the word could be repeated, with a falling tone at the end: I don’t have to go to school to play basketball. I just got my own basket at home. Burnah! Burnah.

Every year, more new words enter the English language. I guess it won’t hurt to lose a few.

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