“GhettoSpeak”: The “Jive Talk” of the 21st Century

Posted on: March 13, 2012

Memorable lines from
Airplane! (1980)

First Jive Dude: Shiiiiit, maaaaan. That honky muf’ be messin’ mah old lady… got to be runnin’ cold upside down his head, you know?
Second Jive Dude: Hey home’, I can dig it. Know ain’t gonna lay no mo’ big rap up on you, man!
First Jive Dude: I say hey, sky… subba say I wan’ see…
Second Jive Dude: Uh-huh.
First Jive Dude: …pray to J I did the same ol’ same ol’!
Second Jive Dude: Hey… knock a self a pro, Slick! That gray matter backlot perform us DOWN, I take TCB-in’, man!
First Jive Dude: Hey, you know what they say: see a broad to get dat booty yak ’em…
First Jive DudeSecond Jive Dude: …leg ‘er down a smack ’em yak ’em!
First Jive Dude: COL’ got to be! Y’know? Shiiiiit.

Sesame Street's "jive-talkin" muppet Roosevelt Franklin aired during the 1970s. Video clip from the movie "Airplane" aired in 1980.

On a recent slow news weekend,  a rather colorful  topic  trended on Twitter–#ghettotranslations.  Back in the day,  GhettoSpeak or speaking ghetto  was called  jive talking.  Over the years, it has evolved into other popular phrases such as  speaking slang,  rapping, and more formally speaking  Ebonics.  Whatever the terminology of choice,  GhettoSpeak  is a deep-rooted vernacular of the African American community that seems to come naturally to any one who lives in or frequents  the ghetto, the projects, the hood, or some similar setting.  And in 2012, it appears the  language of the hood  is  not likely to go away any  time soon.

For those individuals whose upbringings or current lifestyles have sheltered them from the world of GhettoSpeak (myself included), here’s something that might be useful on the social circuits: my list of the Top 25 Ghetto Translations Tweeted on Twitter over the past weekend.  This list is followed by  my list of Top 10 Common Ghetto Expressions Tweeted, specifically designed for people who have been around long enough to know what these mean but who may still be out of touch. More #Ghettotranslations Tweets can be found at

(Editorial Note: I wish I could have used all 2,380 Tweets that came across my Twitter feed, but space  won’t allow. They were all quite informative and simply hilarious!)


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