Calling london Transcript

Megan Figueroa: Hi and welcome to the Vocal Fries podcast. The podcast about linguistic discrimination.

Carrie Gillon: I’m Carrie Gillon

Megan Figueroa: and I’m Megan Figueroa. Well, here we are.

Carrie Gillon: Here We are on a very hot day.

Megan Figueroa: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. Central and Southern Arizona are both going to get above a hundred degrees. So that’s a hundred degrees Fahrenheit. I don’t know what it is in Celsius.

Carrie Gillon: It’s above 40.

Megan Figueroa: Yeah. So we can make everyone that has Celsius feel sad for us.

Carrie Gillon: Yes. And as far as I know, this is our first heat warning for the year. So yeah.

Megan Figueroa: It’s time to sweat

Carrie Gillon: From here on until, I don’t know, November, it’s just going to be hot. The good thing about it is you don’t really have to think that hard about what to wear or you just wear summer clothes.

Megan Figueroa: Yup. Yep. Yup.

Carrie Gillon: Don’t have to bring a jacket.

Megan Figueroa: Yeah. And we’re recording this on Cinco de Mayo, which brings up something that I saw in the news actually. Because I’ve been thinking about how a lot of times on Cinco de Mayo a lot of bad things happen. And one of the things that happens is that some that people put on a fake or mock Spanish accents.

Carrie Gillon: Yeah.

Megan Figueroa: And it’s not good. We totally need to do an episode on that. Mock accents and imitate and imitating other accent accents that are not.

Carrie Gillon: Yes, we definitely do. Yeah. Hari Kondobolu do you want to come talk to us?

Megan Figueroa: Oh my gosh. The whole Simpsons thing. Yeah. Yes. So yeah, it’s in the news right now, as you know, it’s something that’s not great and I’m like afraid to go outside today. Cause I don’t want to hear or see anything racist.

Carrie Gillon: Yeah. That’s true.

Megan Figueroa: But I saw an article and I sent it to you about this journalist. How do you call them when they’re on TV? I mean, they’re still journalists, journalists, I mean, broadcast journalists.

Carrie Gillon: A reporter, she’s called a reporter.

Megan Figueroa: a reporter, Claudia Tristán, and she got some heat, shall I say? Oh, on Facebook about saying El Paso [Spanish pronunciation] and not El Paso [English pronunciation], which is the way you say it in Spanish, right? The city name is in Spanish and right. I mean, I can imagine, I can imagine that a good share of the population in El Paso is Spanish-speaking bilinguals. Maybe. I’m guessing.

Carrie Gillon: Yeah. I’m pretty sure. And that brings up the question. I wonder how they pronounce it. And like when they’re speaking English, do they like, is there like some sort of decision that to pronounce it, the more Anglo way most of the time. And that’s why the white commentators were just shocked or they just don’t interact with people who would use the Spanish pronunciation. I don’t know.

Megan Figueroa: I feel like it’s the latter.

Carrie Gillon: It’s probably at least the latter in some cases, for sure.

Megan Figueroa: We tend to be in our little bubbles. Thinking about how this happened in Phoenix a couple of years ago with a reporter who said Mesa [Spanish pronunciation]. So instead of Mesa [English pronunciation], Arizona Mesa [Spanish pronunciation]. My dad told me about it. Who’s he’s a Spanish speaker. He always uses the Spanish pronunciation. So I think about, we have Casa Grande, Arizona, how people say Casa Grande [casa grand, English pronunciation] and I’m one of them.

Carrie Gillon: But well, I mean, that is kind of its real name now. Right? At some point it was pronounced like Spanish way. But yeah, it’s been a while,

Megan Figueroa: but of course he always brings it out Casa Grande [casa grande, Spanish pronunciation], like always. I think that they there’s going to be Spanish-English bilinguals that are always gonna say things this way. And either it’s just people being so angry about it. I want to think it’s more than just like racism, but what, how are you doing now? why are you so angry.

Carrie Gillon: It’s yeah, if you wouldn’t be, you wouldn’t be angry. If there was no racism involved. You just wouldn’t you would just be like, oh, that’s another way of pronouncing that word. It’s like, would you get mad at a French speaker saying Paree instead of Paris,

Megan Figueroa: I know it’d be like, oh, wow. That’s so romantic.

Carrie Gillon: I mean maybe, maybe, well, let’s take about, let’s talk about Paris, Texas. Cause I guess that would be closer. Would they get mad? I don’t know. That’s. So from my Canadian perspective, this is just totally bizarre to me because of course not everyone is can speak French in Canada, not at all, but if someone were like a reporter, let’s say someone on the CBC or any radio station in Canada was using like speaking English and then using the French pronunciation for the French name of the town. No one would even blink. There is lots of anti-French sentiment in Canada, but yeah, that just wouldn’t be, I’ve never seen it. Maybe it does exist. And I am just blinded. Like I just haven’t noticed it. But, so please let me know if I’m wrong, but I just, from my perspective, this is just totally bizarre. And so therefore, I have to think it’s racism. So racism. Must be racism.

Megan Figueroa: Yeah. I mean, my it’s, my instinct is always racism, but I actually think it’s, I think it’s true this time. Especially since, I mean, I don’t want to go too deep into comments, but the one that they actually like screenshot for the article was from a woman named Beverly saying, “I hate how she says El Paso. It’s like she’s saying with an a.”

Carrie Gillon: I didn’t even understand what that meant.

Megan Figueroa: Yeah. I don’t know either.

Carrie Gillon: because when you pronounce it the Spanish way, I didn’t hear an extra a.

Megan Figueroa: right. In any way. Thinking about how Spanish vowels are said that you, you even say the vowels shorter than like it’s not as long as we would think that English vowels are said so like-

Carrie Gillon: the E and the O are shorter than they are in English.

Megan Figueroa: Yeah. So Claudia wrote back, “I’m saying El Paso correctly in Spanish as it’s written. Thanks for your comment though.” Oh, and then Beverly wrote back “anytime. It’s a strong accent though.” What is? Beverly, go home.

Carrie Gillon: Let’s remind everybody. Everyone has an accent. Every person who speaks out loud has an accent.

Megan Figueroa: Yeah.

Carrie Gillon: Secondly, what does strong even mean?

Megan Figueroa: I know this, it goes back to racism. Yeah. It’s a little bit too strong for me. It makes me uncomfortable. I don’t know what it is doing. Do people not want to be reminded that there are so many place names that are in Spanish because this used to be Mexico?

Carrie Gillon: Yeah, probably, maybe, maybe very subconsciously, but probably.

Megan Figueroa: Happy Cinco de Mayo. oh, oh. So we have some new patrons.

Carrie Gillon: yes, we have from a few new ones from last month. We have Emma Trentman and Kimberly Sorells. So thank you so much. So if you want to become patron, we have the $1, $3 and $5 level, you can support us to help us continue doing this really fun thing that we do right now.

Megan Figueroa: I made a joke on Twitter about how I was a professional millennial, and I just thought, oh wow, it’s a joke, but maybe I am because I have like a podcast. Yeah. Don’t have a job really.

Carrie Gillon: You just finished. So yeah.

Well, so our next episode, so this episode, we’re going to be talking with Issa Wurie from London and he’s, yeah, a bus driver. So he has like, interesting things to tell us about London life in London. And he’s also the co-host with his wife of Young Free and Coupled, but after, so in two weeks, we are going to have an episode on “like” , so that’d be super fun.

Megan Figueroa: Yeah. It was fun to record.

Carrie Gillon: It really was.

Megan Figueroa: And that was a really fun recording too. I think. We probably lost like half of the recordings. We just like chatted for a super long time.

Carrie Gillon: Probably.

Megan Figueroa: Yeah, that was a lot. Yeah.

Carrie Gillon: But it was a long, a long enough time ago that I don’t remember what was, what was, yeah. Sadly.

Megan Figueroa: I just, I just remember the poor man was recording at like 1:00 AM. Yes.

Carrie Gillon: yes. Yeah. He’s a really interesting schedule.

Megan Figueroa: Yes. Wow. All right. It was fun. So hopefully you all think so too?

Carrie Gillon: Yes. And here it is.


Carrie Gillon: Okay. So today we’re interviewing Issa Wurie from London, UK and he’s the cohost of the podcast, Young Free, and Coupled with his wife, Shameika and he’s here to talk about his speech impediment and also hopefully London accents and all things London. So welcome, Issa.

Issa Wurie: How’s everyone doing?

Carrie Gillon: Good? You?

Issa Wurie: I’m feeling great. I’m feeling great over here in London. No it’s been quite a nice day for me today. So okay. Yeah.

Megan Figueroa: Yeah. Even though we’ve, we’ve made to make you talk to us at 1:00 AM.

Issa Wurie: I forgive you I forgive you

Carrie Gillon: It was your suggestion.

Issa Wurie: Okay. Yeah. So I’ve got me there. I can’t Say much now can I No more sympathy.

Carrie Gillon: So yeah, you suggested that you wanted to talk to us about your speech impediment and that we haven’t talked about anything like that yet on the, on the podcast. And I think it’s really interesting, especially since you also have a podcast. So yeah. What did you want to tell us about what it was like growing up with one, what it is that you have?

Issa Wurie: Okay. Well, yeah. I did kind of. Reach out to you guys because I really, really enjoy what you guys are doing. I think I just think it’s really cool. Whenever I see a new episode, is out excited to see. What you guys are going to discuss. And probably my favorite one was “We’re Ghana talk English.” Yeah. Because I grew up with my, my stepdad, he’s from Ghana and he spoke Twi which is one of the languages in Ghana.

Carrie Gillon: Very cool.

Issa Wurie: That was really cool to just listen to what I was at work. And I remember thinking to myself It would be cool if I could actually come on and talk to you guys because as I was growing up, I never like most children. I never liked going to the dentist. My mom would say, all right, come on. It’s time to go. And I would be like, no, I don’t have to go. And then when I did, the dentists would kind of say, well, his teeth are fine. They’re not growing as straight as they could, but they’re strong and he’s okay. And I’ll be like, see mum Well then obviously, as time’s going on, if you don’t get braces and stuff, then your teeth start to grow in different ways. They start to grow a little bit crooked and it wasn’t, I’m 32 now. And to be honest, it wasn’t till about Five years ago that I realized that I was changing the way that I spoke so that I wasn’t stumbling over my words all the time. And you know, I, wasn’t not biting my tongue and doing all these weird things, just, just because of growing up with my teeth, growing a certain way. And I always remember. One time, I kind of said to myself you’re, you’re actually changing the way that you talk. You’re changing the way that you pronounce words and. You know, it made me slow down my speaking a lot, just so that people could understand the words that I was saying. So I dunno if you will call it, like self-imposed something like that, but that’s kind of the issue that I’m dealing with. Plus to top it off. I decided to do a podcast with my wife, so I decided to talk and hopefully have people listen to me. So yeah, few things.

Megan Figueroa: And was that scary? Did you feel like you were putting yourself out there in a way that, might cause some, I don’t know, some judgment by people. Were you afraid?

Issa Wurie: As you get older, it can go one of two ways. You can ever be more sure of yourself depending on how you’ve grown up, or a lot of insecurities can creep in. And as I got more sure of myself, I did get more insecurities and. You know, a lot of podcasts are say this anyway, they say in their first few episodes, they, when they listened back to it, it’s like, who was that? Who, yeah. Who was that talking? Yeah. You know, even people that have gone back that know me to I’ve listened to our first two episodes, they’ve kind of said, why were you talking that, that like I’m trying to talk properly so people can understand me. Cause more people. Hopefully it will be listening or people will be like, when we can understand you properly anyway, where you talk like that, it’s just weird. It doesn’t sound like you. Right. And you know, that’s, that’s something that’s actually helped me a lot people saying to me, be yourself it, sometimes it takes a lot to have that kind of courage.

Carrie Gillon: Yeah.

Megan Figueroa: Oh, definitely. Definitely. What would your friends say then? That the way that you’re speaking to us now is you being yourself or not being yourself?

Issa Wurie: I like my friends, my friends would definitely be able to tell if they’ll say are your, what, what they would say is you’re talking more proper. That’s what, that’s how they would say. You know, you’re pronouncing your words properly because normally how I would Normally just talk. If I’m just doing stuff, I talk quite fast. And obviously I, I spent my whole life growing up in south London and so I Mo I use slang I’d use all these different things. My dad is from Sierra Leone and my mom is from Jamaica. So if you mix all of the stuff yeah. I’ve got my own way of speaking. When I’m going to talk to someone or on the podcast, I try to talk a bit to more of the Queen’s English. I try. Yeah.

Megan Figueroa: And if you, so if you’re talking to your wife or your kids at home, you would be using the Southern London slang.

Issa Wurie: Definitely. I would be, yeah, I’ll be putting everything out in the bag. I’ll be it’s, it’s just normal because I grew up in a time where London slang It kind of was lots of people were starting to talk with London slang. No, not that people weren’t doing it before, but it became more allowed. You’re allowed to talk like that more. I know it might seem a bit weird, but. Because of like music and advancements in technology and things like YouTube being able to speak to people from all over the world and being accepted and people saying, oh, your music’s cool. And the way you talk is actually really cool. You know, we were me and my friends and stuff. We actually, a lot of the slang that you might hear in London, if you just took it on a bus in London and listened to some of the younger children, it’s my generation that. made up Quite a few of these kinds of words. So, yeah, I think I just grew up at a time where there was still a lot of people that would look down on you for talking with like the South London slang but at the same time, we were kind of empowered as well. And because we were young, we didn’t really care. You know, when you’re young, you’ve got that kind of rebelliousness, doesn’t matter what other people say. You kind of, as long as you have your friends there with you, then you kind of just do whatever you want. And slang was a big part of that.

Carrie Gillon: Do you have some examples of London slang for us?

Issa Wurie: Oh, there’s so much with South London slang is almost like Patois from the Caribbean. What we do, we take a lot of those words and we just pronounce it a lot quicker and a lot harsher. So we would say something like “man dem” or “girl dem” we’ll say something like that. Whereas if you were to go over to Jamaica, there’ll be like, oh there’ll be like “man dem” (softer) and “girl dem” (softer) it will be more relaxed, but it won’t be like, “man dem” (stronger) you know, “girl dem.” Especially because of the music that we have here called Grime music, which is like, kind of like sped up rap music. Yes. A lot of our slang is just sped up words. So we’ll say something like “baggaman.” Could you guess what that meant, “baggaman”? That, that, that means lots of people. So it’s like, say in lots as in bags if you were to say I’ve got bags of this item, so we’ll say “baggaman”. Yeah. We’ll say something like, “there’s bare people over there, bare.” As in lots of. To show a lot of – if you bare something you’re showing a lot of it. So that’s yeah. So there’s a lot I mean, I’ll try and pull some out for you guys and see if you get something to say,

Carrie Gillon: that’s very cool that there’s a lot of Jamaican influence.

Issa Wurie: Yes, because a lot of it is to do with our parents. You know, when our, when our parents came over after this second world war to help out in England and fill in all of the jobs that was needed to help Britain get started again, solely in the transport industry and in the hospitality industry. So. They came over in floods, boatloads, a baggaman came over and you know, obviously they had children. And back then they bought music, they bought food. And so my generation is like the third generation. So you had the people that came their children, and then we come next. So we’re a bit more rooted and we have a bit more of a say in the cult culture you know, so a lot of these words. You just get, I would say just normal people just kind of use it and understand what it means which is really, it’s really funny to hear sometimes. Actually you would think they’re going to be talking that proper English when you’re saying certain things they’ll know what you’re saying, which is, which is really, it’s really fun because London is very multicultural, very extremely And I wouldn’t want it to be any other way to be honest with you.

Carrie Gillon: Yeah, no, I think it’s much more exciting as a multicultural city than it would have been back in the day when it was less multicultural.

Issa Wurie: Yeah.

Megan Figueroa: Yeah. So I have no knowledge of London. I have not been there. What is South London like? Like what, I don’t know if you’re from London and someone says that they’re from South London. What does that mean? What does everyone know about South London?

Issa Wurie: Okay. So features of South London, it is, they’re very that the differences are so. They have they’re minor. It will be hard to because it’s so easy to get around London. Like if, when you come to London, you can’t, you can’t walk for more than two minutes without seeing a bus stop.

Carrie Gillon: It’s true.

Issa Wurie: Busses everywhere. You can get the underground, you have trains and it’s so easy to get about. So it’s been like that for so long. But one, one thing I would say about South London. Is like a lot of the slang there. It originated in South London, like the music I was telling you about which is Grime music. It kind of started in East London, which is funny. Cause that’s kind of like where Cockney kind of originated, but, every part of London has its own feature so. When you’re south of the river, you get a bit, a bit more Cockney. You get a bit more of Cockney speak and you get more people that you would hear but it’s here using Cockney, but it’s so hard now because everyone just mixes with everyone else. So things that I notice when I leave South London. And it’s probably a little bit to do with, from when I was young. I just think south London is better. And I know that’s a bit bad to say, because if you were to get someone from north London, they’ll be like, oh North London’s better but in South London, you’ve got all these different parts. In so many different parts of South London, Lewisham Croyden, Brixton, almost everywhere. I have. I haven’t really, to be honest with, you spent a lot of time in North London. It’s only as I got older for work. And as you get older, you naturally want to explore your city more. So I would cross over the river and kind of to be honest, when I was younger, my, my grandma lived in North London and, I think quite a lot of people from the Caribbean, they lived in North London as well. Especially you’ve got a lot of markets like Dalston market, where a lot, a lot of Black people would go there to sell all these exotic stuff that people have never seen before. So, in that regard North London, it had a lot more of the Caribbean feel to it, but, but nowadays I kind of look at London as just one big place.

Megan Figueroa: And so does that mean that your accent is considered a Cockney accent?

Issa Wurie: Oh no, no, no, no way. it’s more like, oh, “you all right, mate. How are you doing mate? You know? Yeah. I’m going to go down to butchers” and they’ve got their own complete different words. Everything is different. I don’t know if you’ve heard of a show called like EastEnders. There’s a show we have. Okay.

Megan Figueroa: So East London is Cockney

Issa Wurie: So there’s a show it’s called EastEnders and it kind of revolves around a lot of- the market is a big part of it. You know, you would hear them shouting out stuff “come on, love coming up and look at what I’ve got. I’ve got this stuff for ya” so it was really- that show is more based around like the Cockney kind of lifestyle. I don’t even want to pretend to like say anything in Cockney because I’ll kind of butcher it so badly.

Carrie Gillon: Yeah.

Issa Wurie: In films. They use it. If the film is set around East London, and it’s to do with like the like gangsters like our version of gangsters over here in, in a Hollywood movie to show that, oh, these are like gangsters from years ago, they’ve got like a heritage of being gangsters. They would pretty much give them a Cockney accent and people would kind of understand, okay, they’re Cockney. Like these certain traditions

Turkish: Tommy there’s a gun in your trousers What’s a gun doing in your trousers

Tommy: for protection!

Turkish: For protection from what? What’s to stop it blowing your bollocks off every time you sit down?

Megan Figueroa: Is there any media that represents the South London accent that you know, any movies, TV,

Issa Wurie: there’s, there’s a film called Attack the Block. And it’s got an actor called John Boyega.

Carrie Gillon: Oh yeah. We know him.

Issa Wurie: Yeah. That’s cool. Yeah. I latched onto something.

Megan Figueroa: Yeah.

Issa Wurie: So, he grew up in Peckham. Okay. And Peckham is, it’s a place where a lot of black people live. So when, when you come to Peckham and you can go to like the market, there’s a lot of African shops, a lot of Jamaican shops. You have music, you have Patois, you hear a lot of, African languages. And we just generally see more of the Black culture. So, loads of people in South London, we really love John Boyega because we feel like, oh, he is kind of like, we’re so proud because it’s like, not, not that making it out or you made it out of this bad place, but you had a big dream and, and you, you went for it and you got it. So we’re really proud. But when he was younger, he was in that film Attack the Block. And if you listen to it’s- I love watching that film because they use the slang perfectly. Because he was younger as well. So you hear a lot of, you hear a lot of the stuff, man dem you had them talking about all loads of the words.

Pest: That’s a alien bruv. I believe it. Must have come from outer space trying to take over the Earth, innit, when it landed in the wrong place. Wrong place.

Youth: Welcome to London, motherfucker!

Issa Wurie: What often films are there? There’s. That’s another really good film. It’s, it’s a film called Kidulthood and then the next one is actually called Adulthood. And then I think the third one is called Manhood, especially Kidulthood and Adulthood. If you watch those films, you hear South London slang all the way. Is, is, is uncompromising. So if anyone out there is listening, then those are the films.

Megan Figueroa: Yeah. Cool. Yeah. Is, would you say the soundtracks? Good? Yeah.

Issa Wurie: Oh, the soundtrack is, yeah. Yeah, yeah. You know, I really like when I see a lot of, YouTube videos of people from Latin America and Canada, when they hear South London slang, because it’s, it’s, it’s just because of the way that we say it. So you see, like, when I said to you, oh baggaman is a baggaman over there. When I kind of explain “a bag of,” you know, it’s like, oh, I get it. There’s so much that you get in that. Yeah. YouTube is a great example because what does that do? People can go on there and be themselves and people all over the world can hear it. And I think it’s kind of getting a bit of- our slang is kind of had a little bit of a jumpstart rappers like Drake, certain rappers from Canada who kind of use that slang. They’ve always used the slang but I think because the British, like urban music scene is is making a lot of strides, it’s a bit more accepted to hear it in music, because one thing that we’ve, we didn’t really use to like, we’ve all seen is we’ll always feel like our music was looked at as inferior to hip hop in America. Obviously it makes sense because hip hop in America, was started way before our, our hip hop scene, Grime music kind of got anywhere, but now Grime music’s probably been around for probably like just under 20 years. If you go right back to the roots or we’re really starting to root our slang and our sayings and stuff into the music that we make. So if you listen to. UK Grime music for a couple hours, you start to pick up slang yourself.

Carrie Gillon: Do you have any examples, like of Grime music that you like

Issa Wurie: Yeah, it is. There’s a really good artist. He’s called Stormzy

Carrie Gillon: Stormzy?

Issa Wurie: S T O R M Z Y. So he he’s quite recently. Been making quite an impact actually, around the world. If you, if you were to go way back to the beginnings of grime to hear kind of how it started, how the beat started and stuff, Dizzy Rascal

Carrie Gillon: Okay. Dizzy Rascal.

Issa Wurie: Dizzy Rascal I like the way you guys said. And also Wiley, W I L E Y. If you go on like Apple Music, Spotify, and put those artists in their music’s changed now. But if you check their earlier work, when they were really pushing to get their music heard, they purposefully were using slang. They were kind of even overusing it. And the music is very punchy and hard, because you know, they’re trying to make an impact. The impact’s being made now money starting to be made. So it’s not needed so much, but they do still make really good music. And you know, one more word that you’re always going to hear in London is “innit”

Carrie Gillon: “innit,” Yeah.

Issa Wurie: “innit” you’re always gonna hear it. You’re going to hear it used in so many different ways. It’s not just going to be used as a substitute for “isn’t it”, it’s going to, can we use it kind of for, we use it not as like positive, what’s the word, positive affirmation kind of like, oh, I might say something like, oh, ” I’m going to go to the shop and get a packet of sweets innit.” it doesn’t make sense to say “when I go to the shop and get a packet of sweets, isn’t it.” But it’s kind of something that we add on at the end of our sentences, just to kind of make sure that the person that we’re with is with us. You know, so that word gets used a lot. We don’t pronounce the T it’s just “inni.” Yeah. Everyone just knows what we’re saying.

Carrie Gillon: Yeah. This, this came up before, because in Rez English, it gets used a lot too, although it’s, it is with the t “innit” but it comes from the “inni” that you use

Issa Wurie: making its way around the world.

Megan Figueroa: So I wonder what are you, so you said that when you’re podcasting, you try to speak a certain way. What are you teaching your kids about language and how they speak? Is there anything that you actually like directly tell them about it?

Issa Wurie: It’s, it’s interesting because we actually homeschool our children. We’ve been doing that for just over a year now. They, I don’t say to them, “don’t speak like this. You have to speak like this” because I think it’s really important for children to have freedom. And hear how I talk because they normally hear me talk just how I normally talk. They don’t really hear me when I’m podcasting and all. I don’t really have any other reason to talk and pronounce my words better. So they they’re starting to pick up words. They’re starting to say. You know, things like “init.” You know, and back in, back in when I was young, to be honest, like my mum was likely to say, oh, “why do you keep saying ‘init,’ you know, talk properly” and teachers and stuff would say that, but I, I. I don’t hold them back. Obviously when they are learning that the actual English language, how to spell, the Queen’s way of pronouncing things, then they know how to say it that way. When they’re just talking between themselves and with their friends, they know all the slang that I know. Sometimes my, my kids’ friends come and they’re playing on the, on the computer and I’m in another room and me and my wife were just sitting down hoping no one gets hurt and we’re just hearing these kids just use the slang. And I think it’s good because if that’s, how, if that’s the environment that you, that you’ve grown up in so long as you’re being looked after and you know, you’re not teaching children rude words. They’re going to pick those up too. Like I’m not in some sort of LA LA land. Think they’re not going to hear anything bad, but you know what? Why not let them speak like a Londoner. There’s nothing wrong with speaking like a Londoner.

Megan Figueroa: Right. That’s I love it. Yeah, no, that’s, that’s definitely like the music. I’m sure. It’s like having the podcast where like, no, just because the way you speak is perfect. No, that’s great. Yeah. Kids pick up on everything,

Issa Wurie: But it’s, it’s great. It’s great to see things like that. It’s you know, that you’re children are integrating just picking up learning things themselves and can’t hold them back

Megan Figueroa: And they’ll add their own special twist to it because of their friends they have and where their friends come from. And it’s all very, very neat. It’s very cool that all of this just we’re all

Issa Wurie: Another thing that’s really interesting. I’m a, I’m a London bus driver. Okay. So. Every day, I’m up and down London and I’m hearing school kids. And there, there are newer words. Okay. If you want to, if you want to know what’s new and fresh, you have to talk to like my younger brothers and stuff, because they say somethings when we’re just talking a normal conversation and I’m like, “okay, what does that mean? What did you just say?” You know, and I’ll be like one word. They use a, they use a word, they say “moist.” They say, ” oh, that’s moist.” One time we sat down. I was all like “Okay. So what does that mean?” You know, it basically means when someone is being a bit like a bit flimsy a bit you can’t pinpoint what they’re trying to do, be a bit wary of them. And you know, it’s, it’s obviously got a negative connotation, but they would say, “oh, that’s moist. Oh, what are you gonna do? You’re gonna go. And” OK. Let me think of a good example. All right. “So this guy he’s always going around bullying people, but he’s moist. I’m not hanging around with him.” It’s that kind of a vibe. That’s something I actually learned not too long ago. And yeah, new words coming up every week. Not even new words, but new ways of using the word.

Megan Figueroa: Yeah. Yeah, no, definitely. And you, and you said you were 32, right? I’m 30. And I’m like so sad that I’m out of that element of all the new slang. I have to like get it after it’s been used for couple months.

Issa Wurie: I know that’s one of the things that we have to just go through. I know,

Carrie Gillon: I don’t think I was ever cool enough to be on the cutting edge of slang. So. Yeah. Moist was interesting because a lot of people hate that word. Like they really, it really skeeves them out. So apologies to the listeners who don’t like the word “moist”.

Issa Wurie: I’m sorry, listeners. Sorry. Sorry.

Megan Figueroa: Yeah, they, they have like a visceral reaction

Issa Wurie: like that. I won’t use the word again. Even when you say it, your mouth has to move in a certain way. So it’s one of those words, you know? I’m tempted to just say really slowly, but I’m not gonna do it.

Megan Figueroa: It’s okay. We have an explicit

Issa Wurie: new like swear words that we get in a, maybe a couple hundred years who knows.

Carrie Gillon: It’s possible.

Megan Figueroa: That’s true. We don’t know it could be anything

Carrie Gillon: because what becomes a swear word is so dependent on what’s taboo. And since this word is now becoming more taboo, it might.

Issa Wurie: Well, you never know. We’ve got a word that we use on, we say “raw,” we say “raw,” yeah. And that’s like, if something. It’s surprising. And you’re really shocked people that “raw, did, did that. Man, just get hit by a car?” you know, and when I was actually younger, that, that word “raw”, it comes from Patois. So when my mom would hear right. And even like my, my wife’s, Shameika, my co-host of the podcast that we have. Okay. My wife, her mom, she’s from Jamaica as well. Shameika was born in London. If you, if you say “raw” around them, they’ll be like, “it’s a naughty word.”

Carrie Gillon: Really? What is it?

Issa Wurie: Okay. “Raw” is short okay for “Rassclaat.” yeah. If you just think. Okay. “That doesn’t mean anything,” but if you- like, “claat” is like “cloth.” Okay. And “rass” is like, It, it means. I cannot. It’s it’s women’s genitalia, preeminent. So that’s what you are. You are that like piece of cloth, like back in the days for, but that’s what they’ll do you use. That’s what you are. So when people use that word is it’s a really strong word with serious like history behind it. But what we did, we just shortened it, thinking which are say “raw”, but nowadays you hear kids, they don’t, they’ve even kind of lost a bit more of that meaning. I’m kind of living and seeing Black, how people, how children nowadays are using that word. It’s got less and less of this bad meaning attached to it. So you know, that’s actually quite interesting when you think about it like that.

Carrie Gillon: Yeah. I mean, that’s pretty, that’s pretty common words to sort of lose some of their impact over time. And we, when we talked about swearing, I mean, “fuck” does not have the same impact that it used to. And it’s very interesting also like referring basically to menstruation, right? Like that is one of the huge taboos out there.

Issa Wurie: It shouldn’t be, it shouldn’t be, it shouldn’t be. Yeah, because come on less. What’s the big deal, but you know, I guess that back in the day, unfortunately, this is the kind of things that people would use against others. Things that they know that people- you can’t really change something like that happening to you. You don’t, you don’t really have much of a say if that’s happening to you. Pretty much. So people can kind of use that against you. Like a lot of um words that are used against people like their color their gender or something that people can just pick on straight away. So yeah, it does have serious history behind it.

Megan Figueroa: Yeah. But yeah, you’re right. I bet a lot of the kids using it these days, have they have no

Issa Wurie: idea. And if my mum will sit in there, my mum would be about to blow. My mum. I don’t, I don’t even say oh, “raw. You know what? This happened!” Because I was still used that word. That’s how I’ve grown up. Yeah. So. That word would come out. But you know, if, if you listen to a lot of like dance hall music, which is like more kind of upbeat reggae music, like the Bob Marley kind of reggae music, a bit more upbeat, they use in certain words and stuff because when they’re saying certain things, they want it to make an impact in the music. You know, they want to listen or to really know what they’re trying to say. So really interesting.

Carrie Gillon: Very cool.

Megan Figueroa: Yeah. I joke about this with Carrie every episode, how I learned so much every time, but it’s true. Like how else would I have learned this without speaking to someone?

Carrie Gillon: And I will say I’ve probably, probably this one has been the most informative for me as well, because I really didn’t know. Okay. A lot of the slang, for sure.

Issa Wurie: Yeah. I’ll tell you what guys, if you got a couple minutes, if I, if I tell you some words and you guys can try and guess it gives you a couple.

Megan Figueroa: Yes.

Issa Wurie: All right. So I first, I just told you the word and then I’ll give you some context. Yeah. Skeen, skeen. Can you imagine what that would be used for.

Carrie Gillon: skeen

Issa Wurie: When you, you said it really good, Carrie. You said it like skeen. You pronounce that perfectly.

Megan Figueroa: So you got, so you’ve got to drag it out a bit. Okay. That’s what you say to someone who, who just really is slimy.

Issa Wurie: Someone might say to me, “all right, :so Of of I’ve done what you asked me to do and you know, if everything’s going well now, so w let’s start moving less, let’s start going where we’re going.” and I’ll, I’ll say to them, “all right. Skeen skeen skeen.”

Megan Figueroa: copacetic. Everything’s good.

Issa Wurie: “I see.” Like “I see you now,” you know, skeen. Okay. Let me, let me give you one more really good one. Reh teh teh.

Carrie Gillon: Attractive.

Issa Wurie: Okay. That’s a good guess

Megan Figueroa: slimy. No.

Issa Wurie: What, what that means is like, “et cetera,” it means ” and on and on.” So I would say “and then we went here to the park and we’re just doing normal stuff that you do in the park. We had a picnic and we sat down and were talk in and reh teh teh that kind of, yeah.

Megan Figueroa: I love it.

Issa Wurie: There’s a couple for you.

Megan Figueroa: How would you say slimy?

Issa Wurie: I think I’d actually just have to say “slimy” would just all be like, “He’s moving a bit funny. He’s moving a bit funny.”

Carrie Gillon: Interesting.

Issa Wurie: Yeah. Yeah. He’s moving a bit, even a bit where to me, but it’s a lot of it is how you say thing, you know?

Megan Figueroa: Oh my gosh. That was great.

Carrie Gillon: That was awesome.

Megan Figueroa: Any last messages how many listeners do we have in the UK, Carrie? Is there,

Carrie Gillon: I, I don’t know, a few hundred. I think, I think actually let me think. I think it’s about the same as Canada. So that would be,

Megan Figueroa: huh?

Carrie Gillon: I’m going to say a couple hundred probably.

Megan Figueroa: Wow. Oh, that’s good. Okay. Yeah. So most of our listeners are in America, right?

Carrie Gillon: Yeah. 60% are in the U S yeah.

Megan Figueroa: What is like the last thought? What would you want our listeners to know? And most of them are dumb Americans. Just kidding America. What would you want them to know about maybe South London or yeah. I mean now I want to go there. I want to go to there.

Carrie Gillon: It’s a really cool place.

Megan Figueroa: Yeah.

Issa Wurie: Yeah. I would say if you come to London, all right, try and jump on a bus. Visit lots of places, because if you just stay in Central London, things are really expensive. Okay. Visit other areas, because then if you go to certain parts of London, there’s a huge Indian influence. You get great Indian food. If you go off of places, you get great African food, great polish food, some, some parts of London. So really travel around and listen to some of our music, get some of our slang and you know, don’t be scared. Don’t be scared. Take your time. You might have to slow it down a bit, you know? You know, even now when I’m talking, I might say certain things. Play this podcast at 0.5 times, so you can really get what I’m saying. No, I’m joking. Yeah. Just come and try and visit all around. And you know, jump on a bus. If you’re lucky, you’ll get me driving a bus and just take it all in. London’s a really great place.

Megan Figueroa: Yeah. And know that “moist” doesn’t mean what you think it does.

Carrie Gillon: okay. Well, thank you so much.

Megan Figueroa: Thank you so much.

Issa Wurie: Oh, I’ve had a great time. Thank you. Thank you.

Carrie Gillon: And as always, we leave our listeners with one final thought.

Carrie Gillon/Megan Figueroa: Don’t be an asshole.


Carrie Gillon: The Vocal Fries podcast is produced by Chris Ayers for Halftone Audio. Music by Nick Granum. You can find us on Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram at vocalfriespod. You can email us at

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