The classic Brooklyn accent is far from universal in the borough. With a steady stream of immigrants coming from all over the world (and, now, from the rest of the U.S.), there are probably more accents in Brooklyn than there are buildings. But you’ll still find plenty who speak the working-class dialect that has become iconic the world over. For a perfect written example, read Thomas Wolfe’s 1935 short story “Only the Dead Know Brooklyn,” which begins: “Dere’s no guy livin’ dat knows Brooklyn t’roo an’ t’roo, because it’d take a guy a lifetime just to find his way aroun’ duh goddam town.”

Photo courtesy of Kai Brinker via Flickr.

For non-native speakers, here’s a handy lexicon:

Axe (v) – Ask

Bodega (n) – A corner store deli, usually with a cat. (From the Spanish, meaning “wine shop.” The etymology goes all the way back to Greek apotheke, “shop,” which led to words as varied as apothecary and boutique! How do ya like dem apples?)

Boss (n) – What you should most definitely aspire to be, and what the guy behind the counter at your local bodega might call you if you’re a regular. (more…)