Section: Italian Harlem: Humor

Directory: New York City History

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Section: Italian Humor
Am I a New Yawker tawkin, or is my East Harlem accent showin!

There is a distinct characteristic about accents that seem to stand out, no matter how much you try to improve it, whether you are from East Harlem, Brooklyn, New York or any other state or country. Accents are defined as a mode of utterance; pronunciation. Accents also reflect places of origin.

Several years ago I lived in Florida for a short time. One day while I was waiting on line to cash out my groceries, at the local super market, I was chatting with my friend when the man that was behind me, asked me a question. "Excuse me you're from New York right?" Surprised, I looked at him and said, "Yeah! Why ya askin?" "Not for anything, but you talk with a unique accent." "Whaddya tawkinabow accent?" I responded, feeling self-conscious. I was trying hard not to show my annoyance as I told him, "So whadsa madda wid da way Noo Yawkers tawk?” "yagoddaproblimwiddat? The man seeing that I was becoming defensive, answered immediately and without even the slightest hesitation, "Please don't take offense, its just that you kind of talk like a hood" " whaddayanutz! Gedoutahea, I tawk like a hood?" I never realized that my East Harlem accent stood out, until the day this man brought it to my attention.

Naturally over the years my pronunciation has greatly improved, except for the holiday get-togethers with my nieces and nephew on the Italian side of the family from Yonkers, then it all comes back. Love it, love it, love it...................That's when I really let my hair down.

Here are a couple of words and expressions still being used by some Noo Yawkers. "Whaddya tawkin? Pronounced waddya talkin' or wuddya talkin'. It simply means "what are you talking about?" or "what do you mean?"."I'm a Noo Yawka, Didn'chat know that?" " Gedoutahea, yer pudding me on! " "Yeah, I kum fun Noo Yawk." "Would ja ged a grip!" " Did'ju or did'ja," "Would'ju or would'ja, ". "Soopah (Super)," "datzuhbowditfuddat (that's about it for that)." " Fur sur I'm ohn the fawth floor," "Wawda (water)," "I'll have a tooner samwidge: (tuna sandwich)," " I live on a hun'six near Toid". "Gimme a cup of cawfy (coffee)," " Who's dat goil? (girl)," " I shudda had my brudda over the udda day," " My mudda and fodda are goin downashaw ohn Lawnguylund, " "Datsawayigoze (That's the way it goes)," "Youse (you)," " I wud be da foist to tell you if my brudda was na here," "Fugheddaboudid! I ain't saying nuttin," "Gwan, gedoutahea before I call the cops" "Gimme a slizer pizzer anna soder."

If you have any more to add to this list feel free to contact me, so I can put it on our Italian Harlem message board. or



                                                  Italian Jokes....Very Funny!

Italian Math Test (Author Unknown...)

An Italian man wants a job, but the foreman won't hire him until he passes a little math test. "Here's your first question," the foreman said. "Without using numbers, represent the number 9." "Without numbers?" the Italian says, "Datsa easy." and he proceeds to draw three trees. "What's this?" says the boss. "Ave you got no brain says the Italian? Tree and tree and tree makea nine," "Fair enough," says the boss. "Here's your second question. Use the same rules, but this time the number is 99." The Italian stares into space for a while, then picks up the picture that he has just drawn and makes a smudge on each tree. "Ere a you go." The boss scratches his head and says, "How on earth do you get that to represent 99 ?" The Italian says…"Each of da trees isa dirty now. So, it's a dirty tree, and a dirty tree, and a dirty tree. Datsa 99." The boss is getting worried now that he's actually going to have to hire this Italian, so he says, "All right, last question. Same rules again, but represent the number 100." The Italian stares into space some more, then he picks up the picture again and makes a little mark at the base of each tree and says, "Ere you go. One hundred." The boss looks at the attempt. "You must be nuts if you think that represents a hundred!" The Italian leans forward and points to the marks at the base of each tree and says, "A little doga came alonga, he crapa by eacha tree. So now you gota dirty tree and a turd, a dirty tree and a turd, and a dirty tree and a turd……datsa makea one hundred. So, whena I gonna start?"

Permission to use by: Anthony's Spaghetti Sauce and


Italian Cookies (Author Unknown...)

An elderly Italian man lay dying in his bed. While suffering the agonies of impending death, he suddenly smelled the aroma of his favorite Italian anisette sprinkle cookies wafting up the stairs. He gathered his remaining strength, and lifted himself from the bed. Leaning against the wall, he slowly made his way out of the bedroom, and with even greater effort, gripping the railing with both hands, he crawled downstairs. With labored breath, he leaned against the door frame, gazing into the kitchen. Were if not for death's agony, he would have thought himself already in heaven, for there, spread out upon waxed paper on the kitchen table were literally hundreds of his favorite anisette sprinkled cookies. Was it heaven? Or was it one final act of heroic love from his devoted Italian wife of sixty years, seeing to it that he left this world a happy man? Mustering one great final effort, he threw himself towards the table, landing on his knees in a crumpled posture. His parched lips parted, the wondrous taste of the cookie was already in his mouth, seemingly bringing him back to life. The aged and withered hand trembled on its way to a cookie at the edge of the table, when it was suddenly smacked with a spatula by his wife......

"Back off!" she said, "They're for the funeral."

Permission to use by: Anthony's Spaghetti Sauce and Meatballs. com


Italian Mother (Author Unknown...)

A young Italian man excitedly tells his mother he's fallen in love and that he is going to get married. He says, "Just for fun Ma, I'm going to bring over three women and you try and guess which one I'm going to marry." His mother agrees. The next day, he brings three beautiful women into the house and sits them down on the couch and they chat for a while. He then says, "Okay Ma, guess which one I'm going to marry." She immediately replies, "The one on the right." "That's amazing Ma!! You're right! How did you know?"

The Italian mother replies, "I don't like her."

Permission to use by: Anthony's Spaghetti Sauce and Meatballs. com

The following was contributed by Bob Maida, who is an active member and photographer of the East Harlem Giglio Society.

Come stai? Molto bene. Bon giorno. Ciao. Arrivederci. Every Italian from Italy knows these words and every Italian-American should. Here are some words and phrases that are a little Italian, a little American, and a little slang , that we hear throughout Little Italy neighborhood and East Harlem, New York..


Oofah_ (a sigh when you are bored, exasperated or annoyed)       Mama Mia_ anytime emotion is needed in any given situation.  
Mannaggia _(may evil have him)       Ciao_ when a person arrives or leaves.  
He or she gets "agita " (state of agitation that comes from an upset stomach) from the gravy.       He uses a "moppeen " (moppina=from mop, towel) to wipe his hands in the cuchina.(Kitchen)  
A crazy diavlo can give you the malokya (evil eye), but that red horn (contra malokya) will protect you if you use it right.       Always foonah(sink or dunk) your bread in the pot of gravy (sauce) or you will be considered a real coogootz (blockhead).  
If you are feeling mooshadda or stounad or mezzo-morto, always head to Nonna's and she will fix you up with a little homemade manicott', cavadell', or calamar ', or some ricotta cheesecake.       Mangia some zeppoles, canolis, torrone, struffoli, shfoolyadell', pignoli cookies, or a little nutella on pannetone. Delizioso! I think I will fix myself a sangweech of cabagol' with some proshoot and mozarell' or maybe just a hot slice of peetza .  
He will shkeevats meatballs unless they are homemade from the famiglia.       Don't forget to always say per favore and grazia and prego.(You're welcome)  

So salud if you have any italian blood in you and you understood anything written here!

If you don't get any of this, then FUGHEDDABOUDIT!  "CAPEESH?



You Know You're Italian When............

You attend more than 10 weddings a year.     When pasta is served everyday for supper.
When your cheeks get pinched and money shoved in your pocket.     Your conversations at the dinner table can be heard next door.
You were as tall as your grandmother by the age of eight.     "Fuhggettaboutit" is part of your everyday vocabulary.
You feel comfortable when you sit on plastic-covered furniture.     Your friends come over for dinner and they leave 8 pounds heavier.
You've been hit with a wooden spoon or had a shoe thrown at you by either your mother or your nonna.     Everyone over the age of 55 in your family is short, fat, and wears nothing but black.
At least six of your cousins live on the same street as you and they're all named after your grandfather..     When the beautician, the accountant, the mechanic, the plumber and the electrician are all related to you.
You have at least five or more male relatives by the name of Frank, Tony, Mike or Louie.     There's a crucifix in every room of the house, including the garage and cellar.
You netted more than $30,000 on your first communion.     Every opportunity your nonna gets to see you she tries to feed you.
Every sunday you would visit your grandparents or other relatives house.     You mix some Italian with English when you speak.
Your nonna sends you a care package at least once a week.      




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