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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 until its total demise in 1971. The neighborhood kids cleared the snow each winter and played hockey on it through the 1950s. The village is one of the centers of Italian population in Newton. The commercial area has numerous restaurants and food establishments featuring Italian cuisine.
Lake Talk is a cryptolect spoken particularly among older Italian-American residents. The origins of Lake Talk are unclear. A 2001 article in the Boston Globe speculated that it is a blend of Italian and some World War II code, but others have seen similarities to Angloromani or Italian Romany slang. Originally, Nonantum was an Irish community, as many of the streets are Irish names. In the late 1800's early 1900's Natives of Castelvenere a town and comune in the Province of Benevento, Campania Region, Italy settled in Nonantum, the first Italian immigrants. Many people in the village now who claim are the first to discover the "Lake" are descendants of natives of San Donato Val di Comino, Italy.
According to the article, 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: "The mush is a real divya," or "This mush is divya"
- inga -- "unattractive" or "bad-tempered person" or "junk" or "crap"
- jival -- "chick" or "woman", female version of mush
- 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." Better defined as exaggeration or equivocation
- oy -- "eat"
- pissa -- "awesome"
- pukka to the mush -- "tell the guy"
- quister jival (quest-ah jival) -- "pretty woman"
- 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," "That mush has a lotta' wonga"
- geech -- "go away"
- gash -- "feminine 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"
- chooch -- "friend", "buddy"
- 24-911"-- "Meet me in the Store 24 parking lot immediately"
Former 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."
- A. Joseph DeNucci, politician and former professional boxer
- Matt LeBlanc, actor
- Marianne Leone Cooper, actress
- Chris Dezotell, Comedian, Blogger
- Chris Raven, Location Unknown
- Happy Hank, Amateur Golfer
- "Where Is Silver Lake?". Historic Newton/Newton Historical Society. Retrieved November 2, 2016.
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