Nonantum, Massachusetts

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Coletti-Magni Park

Nonantum (from a Native American Algonquian word meaning "blessing or prayer") is one of the thirteen villages of Newton, Massachusetts, also known as Silver Lake or The Lake. The lake in question was filled with construction rubble and built over from the 1930s into the late 1950s. The neighborhood kids cleared the snow each winter and played hockey on it through the 1950s. At that point Silver Lake was more of a pond. The village is one of the centers of Italian population in Newton. Our Lady's High School later called Newton Catholic High School and now known as Trinity Catholic High School [1]) is located in the village. The commercial area has numerous restaurants and food establishments featuring Italian cuisine. A historical report can be found at [2].

Nonantum figures in early Massachusetts history as the home of Waban, one of the first Native Americans in Massachusetts to convert to Christianity. He had been taught by John Eliot.

Lake Talk[edit]

A notable element in Nonantum is the Lake dialect. Lake Talk, as it is called, is an idiosyncratic language spoken in the village, particularly among Italian-American locals. The dialect's origins are unclear. It has been speculated that it is a blend of Italian and some World War II code, but others have seen similarities to Angloromani or Italian Romany ("gypsy") slang. Many people in the village are descendants from natives of San Donato Val di Comino, Italy.

According to a 2001 article in the Boston Globe some examples of words and phrases in Lake Talk include:

  • mush (pronounced to rhyme with push) -- "guy" or "man", can be positive or negative depending on context
  • wicked pissa, mush!--"extremely awesome, man"
  • chabby -- "boy child", possibly related to the Romany word chavvie = "boy"
  • chor'd -- "stolen", possibly related to the Romany word choro = "thief"
  • chuccuo -- (chu-co, also pronounced as "chew-ch") -- "donkey", "horse's ass"
  • cuya moi -- "shut up" or "go to hell"
  • divia (div-ya) -- "crazy", "jerk, screw-up, or harmless screwball," can be used as a noun or an adjective
  • inga -- "unattractive" or "bad-tempered person" or "junk" or "crap"
  • jival -- "girl"
  • mush has a cormunga in his cover -- "guy is hiding a gun"
  • mush is the earie -- "the guy is listening"
  • over-chay or overchay (ova-chay) -- "it's a lie" or "he's an actor." Directly translates as "overkill"
  • oy -- "eat"
  • pissa -- "awesome"
  • pukka to the mush -- "tell the guy"
  • quister jival (quest-ah jival) -- "pretty girl"
  • quister (also pronounced as "quish-ta") meaning awesome, good, beautiful
  • quister mush (quest-ah mush) -- "good, standup guy"
  • shapdude (shup-dude) -- "how's it going?"
  • wonga -- "money"
  • geech -- "go away"
  • gash -- "girly man"
  • jawl -- "steal" or "look at"
  • dikki ki dotti -- "unreal or unbelievable"
  • minje -- "dirty or unattractive woman"
  • suv -- "to have sexual relations"
  • corey"-- "the male sexual organ"

Massachusetts State Auditor Joe DeNucci, a Nonantum native, told the Globe:

You talk the Lake language and only people from there can understand you. An awful lot of what it means is how you say it and how you use it. You improvise a lot, mixing it with carnival talk and bebop.
"Mush is the earie." That means "The guy is listening."

Lake talk is not confined to the neighborhood. Nonantum students have spread it to Newton North High School, which serves the area.[1]

Notable residents[edit]

Some famous former residents of Nonantum are actress Marianne Leone, art historian Daniel Zolli, and actor Matt LeBlanc.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 42°21′45″N 71°12′08″W / 42.36250°N 71.20222°W / 42.36250; -71.20222