From a young girl in a police family to a final showdown in the Badlands, there’s a lot of action in this song. We”ll be going over “Dani California” lyrics by Red Hot Chili Peppers here with explanations, especially for you English students out there. Learn some new idioms, slang, and grammar points. Learn a little about society too. And don’t forget to listen to the song to check your understanding! I checked the lyrics on Genius if you want a reference. After you read, make sure to find other song lyrics explanations here. Alright, here we go:
Gettin’ born in the state of Mississippi
Grammar: *Being born…
Society: He could be using the improper “getting born” to present the uneducated origins of Dani from Mississippi.
Poppa was a copper and her momma was a hippie
Slang: “Copper” is an informal word for a cop or police officer.
In Alabama, she would swing a hammer
Society: “Swinging a hammer” probably refers to a chain gang. This is a form of punishment in prisons that has been outlawed for a while. Prisoners had to do unpaid labor like build and construct things, often in the form of mining or clearing space for roads and train rails. Working in a mine or with heavy tools creates the idea of swinging a hammer,
Price you gotta pay when you break the panorama
Grammar: *It’s the price you have to pay…
Figurative Speech: “Breaking the panorama” is like going against what everyone else is doing, or not fitting in. In Dani’s case, she is probably breaking the laws established in her community.
She never knew that there was anything more than poor
Society: Just a note; the way he pronounces “poor” like “po” is an informal but common way for certain American communities to pronounce it. This is usually associated with poor, black, or Southern speakers.
What in the world, what does your company take me for?
Daily speech: By “company” here, he means the people you spend time with, not a real enterprise or business. Asking “What do you take me for?” is another way of saying “Who do you think I am?” or “You are wrong about me!” Also, saying “What in the world?” is a simple way to show that you are shocked or confused by something. You can also use it to ask a question. “What in the world is that thing? Oh, it looks like a termite.”
Black bandana, sweet Louisiana
Culture/Society: The “black bandana” is usually a symbol of criminal activity. This is because traditionally when someone would rob a place, they would wear a bandana to cover their face.
Robbin’ on a bank in the state of Indiana
Grammar: *Robbing a bank …
Culture: Again, using informal grammar on purpose to relate to a specific class or region of the U.S. In these communities, it can be common for people to say a verb with “on.” “He was kissing on her, loving all on the poor girl. So she didn’t like that and slapped all on his face.”
She’s a runner, rebel and a stunner
Figurative/Informal speech: “Runner” in the sense of a fugitive. Also, she lives a fast-paced lifestyle. I can’t tell exactly if he sings “stunner” or “stunter,” but either way he is saying that Dani is confident and likes to show off her skills. She can stun others with her abilities but can make herself look amazing doing it.
On her merry way sayin’, “Baby, what you gonna—?“
Other details: “Merry” of course means happy or cheerful. Her saying “Baby, what you gonna–?” can be like her teasing or playing with her victims. She’s also a quick shooter, killing them before they can even answer her question.
Lookin’ down the barrel of a hot metal .45
Informal speech: “A metal .45” probably refers to a Colt .45, a type of gun.
Just another way to survive
California, rest in peace
Special occasion: “Rest in peace” (R.I.P.) is what we say when someone has died.
Figurative speech: This line could be talking about the “release” of a gunshot that “releases” Dani’s soul. It also sounds like it could have a sensual meaning, but we’ll stick to the violent one, hehe.
California, show your teeth
Figurative speech: Saying “show your teeth” is another way of making people afraid of you. Think of how wolves or lions show their teeth to try and intimidate others. It could also mean showing us who you really are.
She’s my priestess, I’m your priest, yeah, yeah
Figurative speech: This is like saying she told him, so now he is telling us. She taught him, now he will teach us.
She’s a lover, baby and a fighter
Figurative speech: “Baby” here meaning someone sweet, kind, loving, and also a bit innocent.
Shoulda seen her comin’ when it got a little brighter
Grammar: *I should have seen …
Figurative speech: “Get brighter” here refers to something becoming more clear or evident. It’s like the phrase “come to light,” which has this same meaning.
With a name like Dani California
Day was gonna come when I was gonna mourn ya
Deeper meaning: He says this like he knew the day was going to come.
Informal speech: “Ya” in this case is an informal way of pronouncing you.
A little loaded, she was stealin’ another breath
Slang: “Loaded” means drunk. It could also have a double meaning, referring to her loaded gun (gun with bullets in it).
Figurative speech: “Stealing a breath” is like the phrase “Cheating death.” This means living dangerously, encountering seemingly fatal situations and still making it out alive.
I love my baby to death
Figurative speech: “Loving something to death” is actually a pretty common term in English. It usually just means that you love someone or something a lot. Here, he uses the “to death” part literally, so it sounds a bit more morbid.
California, rest in peace
Other details: Now we see that California is Dani’s last name, so we know he’s talking about a woman, not the state.
California, show your teeth
She’s my priestess, I’m your priest, yeah, yeah
Who knew the other side of you?
Who knew what others died to prove?
Too true to say goodbye to you
Too true to say, say, say
Push the fader, gifted animator
Informal speech: To push the “fader” is referring to the fade feature where DJ’s or music producers make a song fade at the end.
Figurative speech: Referring to the “gifted animator,” this could be a reference to the Creator, the designer of the universe, putting an end to Dani’s life as if it were a song. This relates the fading feature in music to the fading away of a person’s life.
One for the now and eleven for the later
Unusual format: This might be a reference to the bullets in a gun. There was one shot, and eleven were saved for later.
Never made it up to Minnesota
Informal speech: To “make it” somewhere is the same as getting there or arriving there. The same is used for non-physical places. “She never made it to 21 (she died before turning 21).”
North Dakota man was a gunnin’ for the quota
Other details: The “quota” means a share or earnings from something.
Slang/Informal speech: This North Dakota man was “gunning,” or using his gun, to get a piece of the reward, apparently for stopping Dani. Adding “a” before a verb is also a stereotypical way that rural or Southern people are seen to talk. It has no meaning but is used to add color to speech. “He was a-going and a-going until he got tired. Then his feet start a-hurting.”
Down in the Badlands, she was savin’ the best for last
Geography: The “Badlands” is a geographical feature of several U.S. states, and other parts of the world. It is characterized by desert or rugged rocky landscapes where few animals live. It’s usually dry and looks like a very tough place to live.
Figurative speech: The rock formations look like a spectacular arena or something, so she put on a final show.
It only hurts when I laugh
Figurative speech: He laughs when he remembers the good times with Dani, which also hurts because she is not around anymore.
Gone too fast
. Then they repeat.
The story of Dani California is a classic bandit highway criminal tale. We have a girl with humble beginnings in the South who’s a rebel for her times. She grows up, gets into more and more trouble, all until she eventually gets taken down. The lyrics add in a lot of colloquial or figurative phrases to better paint the picture of where Dani California is from. There are several bits of imagery to present her wild lifestyle and we see her final demise at the end. The singer loves this woman, has respect for her, but that couldn’t save her. After all, we see that a life of crime really doesn’t pay, though it can bring us fun and exciting memories.
Thanks for reading/listening and I hope you enjoyed the post! Check out some related posts if you want, and follow to be notified of new posts to your email. Thanks and have a good one!
Bem, quais? No nível interno ou no nível político? Depende de quem você está perguntando, mas aqui estão algumas coisas para manter em mente:
Vidas negras importam. Este movimento social recentemente acendeu toda uma onda de emoções de apoiadores e oponentes de seus ideais.
“Todas as vidas importam, não é o correto?”
–um pode perguntar. E numa ideologia filosófica baseada em princípios, sim, todas elas importam. Mas olhando para vários parâmetros que comparam americanos negros a outras “raças/etnias”, é fácil detectar uma disparidade, especialmente entre brancos e negros.
Aqui estão apenas alguns gráficos que achei particularmente alarmantes:
Tiroteios policiais fatais por milhão, por etnia
Consumo de maconha vs. detenções por porte, por etnia
Riqueza doméstica de norte-americanos negros e brancos
Nesses três gráficos, você pode começar a ter uma ideia de como a sociedade trata de forma desproporcional um grupo de pessoas sobre o outro. Bem, existem algumas coisas importantes para ser observadas aqui:
Cerca de metade das mortes causadas pela violência policial são sofridas por brancos. No entanto, mais negros são mortos em proporção a qualquer outro grupo racial, o que é alarmante, pois constituem uma parte muito menor da população
Embora o uso de maconha esteja se tornando mais legalizado em todo o país nas últimas décadas, e aproximadamente a mesma quantidade de brancos e negros admitam usá-la, uma porcentagem muito maior de negros são presos por porte de maconha
As famílias brancas em geral têm maior probabilidade de ter alta renda, enquanto as famílias negras em geral têm maior probabilidade de serem pobres
Isso é apenas o que os números nos mostram; faça com eles o que quiser.
Há muitos brancos mortos pela polícia ou presos, e muitos negros são ricos. Mas, no fundo, o sistema dos EUA atrasa o progresso de certos grupos.
E não é apenas um fenômeno atual. Muitas oportunidades existem para todos os povos hoje, que é ótimo, embora, historicamente, essas minorias não tiveram uma chance. A escravidão institucional era uma parte disso. As teorias de que algumas raças serem melhores do que outras era outra parte ainda relacionada. Por qual outro motivo um grupo de pessoas viria para um continente pensando que estava “destinado” a ensinar e conquistar os outros?
Também quero deixar claro que este problema não é exclusivamente europeu. Escravidão, colonização e segregação existiram em todos os continentes povoados durante a maior parte da história humana. Os humanos são legais assim.
A América tem uma história suja com xenofobia, que é temer ou desprezar pessoas de nações, culturas, e religiões estrangeiras. Nos primeiros dias, estávamos preocupados com os alemães e escandinavos tomando nossos empregos e terras. Mais tarde, foram os irlandeses, depois europeus orientais, italianos e asiáticos. Mais recentemente, foram latino-americanos e muçulmanos, mas essa história é antiga. Todos esses grupos sofreram violência e retaliação ao migrar para a América, com a única diferença de que aqueles grupos vistos com uma cor de pele “menor”, religião “menor” ou de países “mais carentes” sofreram bem mais. Essa discriminação persiste de maneira especialmente forte em comunidades que estão segregadas há gerações.
Os EUA são um país incrivelmente complexo. A percepção de ser uma nação de imigrantes influenciou muitos a chegar e continuar com seus antigos costumes, afastando eles da cultura americana em geral. O medo de imigrantes e a hostilidade frequente em relação a eles deixou muitos se sentindo mal recebidos a ponto de irem voluntariamente para outros países ou voltando para sua casa. Quem quer alguem gritando,
Volte para onde você veio!
ou recebendo olhares de desprezo o tempo todo apenas por causa de sua aparência ou crenças religiosas? Tenho certeza de que me sentiria péssimo comigo mesmo se eu fosse receber preconceito por coisas que nem posso controlar. O governo definitivamente cria políticas que estimulam esse medo dos estrangeiros. Lembre:
Nipo-americanos colocados em campos de internamento
Imigrantes irlandeses anunciados como invasores subumanos
Mexicanos e centro-americanos sendo deportados em massa
proibição de viagens imposta a países de maioria muçulmana
Esse último foi bem recente, hein?
Para colocar um pouco de sol nessa história, os americanos, em geral, parecem ser pessoas realmente bem-intencionadas. Não gostamos de ver os outros sofrendo e queremos ser uma sociedade pacífica e feliz que trabalhe em conjunto aos outros. Muitos estão realmente curiosas sobre outras culturas, línguas e religiões. Temos uma má reputação, mas muitos de nós estamos tentando quebrar esses estereótipos de mente fechada e de preconceituosos que tacamos em nós mesmos.
De qualquer forma, dê uma olhada nas páginas abaixo para ver mais gráficos sobre a percepção das questões raciais nos EUA e me diga o que você acha! Há de tudo, desde comparações de renda a opiniões sobre como a raça de uma pessoa afeta a mobilidade de classe social. Tem até um grafiquinho interessante que mostra como os americanos veem a tal palavra com “N”. Há um total de 7% de brancos que pensam que está tudo bem “Às vezes” ou “Sempre” para gente branca dizer a palavra “N”, o que é simplesmente doido. É uma porcentagem muito pequena, mas estou tentando imaginar quem são essas pessoas. Eles são realmente racistas ou são apenas uns caras brancos loucos que andam muito com negros e se safam? Provavelmente ambos, mas essa palavra merece um artigo inteiro para si mesma.
Portanto, a resposta à pergunta original é: Sim, somos um pouco racistas, segregacionistas e xenófobos, mas é um mau hábito de longa data. Fomos treinados dessa forma. Fomos ensinados dessa forma. Nossa nação começou assim. Mas não se esqueça, não é apenas um problema americano. E, estamos tentando! Muitos estão lutando para consertar isso. Pensar naqueles cidadãos que tem uma mente positiva me ajuda a dormir melhor à noite.
Se você consegue ler em inglês e quer aprender mais, aqui estão recursos:
There are more than a few ways to agree with something in English. What about talking about a lifelong friend? We cover these topics and more in today’s post, looking at terms bet, ride or die, rider, and day one, as well as their meanings and how they’re used. Read more if you want to learn more about these words and how to use them properly. We’ll see examples in a short story about Charles, and as always, practice with some questions at the end. Here we go!
You may be familiar with a “bet” as a type of wager or strong guess that something will happen, usually involving a loss or gain of money depending on the result. Bet has meant different things over the years, yet in slang, it often has the same meaning as “cool”, “for sure”, or “really?” This is because of the phrase, “You bet ya” or the shorter version, “You bet.” This is a way to say “of course” or to guarantee something. Shortening it to just “bet” usually is a response to something to show gratitude or respect, but can also be used to question something.
Sweeping up the stage as always, Charles liked to approach his work with a smile. He knew one day he’d save up enough money to move out of his tiny apartment and into a decent condo, maybe even a home. Who knows? His friends Sheila and Jonah could split the rent with him, easy. By then, he could be designing the sets for plays instead of cleaning up dirty props. Until that day, he was content to help where he could.
BUNG BUNG BUNG. Footsteps pounded on the wooden floor before the doors to the theater flung open. It was an actor looking for … something.
Charles — You need help? You look lost.
Actor — Who? Oh, no, I’m just looking for my phone. I always forget it under a seat or behind a box or something. I bet money it’s in the same place I always leave it.
I’m sure, I know, I’m almost certain.
Charles — What? Do you mean this phone?
The actor smiled and ran up to Charles.
Actor — Yeah, man! Thanks so much. It was under the seat agian, wasn’t it?
Charles — Well, in the costumes bin, actually.
Actor — Bet. Thanks a lot man. I appreciate it. I was getting frantic.
For sure, cool, I get it, of course.
Charles — Really? I didn’t notice. Haha. I know how it is with the cellphones.
Actor — I have an extra special reason to keep my phone on me, though.
Charles — Bet? What is that?
Really? For real?
Ride or Die * Rider
The concept of a ride-or-die means a person, usually a close friend or partner, who will do anything to help you and is extremely trustworthy. It can sometimes be used to call someone your best friend or boy/girlfriend. This comes from the idea of “ride,” or to ride with someone. This means the person sticks with you when you need them and you can count on them. A rider then is someone who is a ride-or-die. A rider can also be a person who is willing to do whatever you want and has few boundaries. They go with the flow and are true companions.
Actor — “What is it?” What else could it be? I gotta call my girl, man, my ride-or die.
My girlfriend, the person I trust, my close partner.
Charles — Oh, I didn’t know you had a girl. She a actress too?
Actor — Yeah, but she prefers the term actor. We met at the theater down the street watching somebody else’s play. Can you imagine? Somebody else’s play. Ha!
Charles continued to sweep the stage floor, focused deeply on his work.
Actor — What’re you doing after this?
Charles — I think I’ll dust the curtains. They’re pretty dirty.
Actor — Man, don’t you have a rider in your life? You need a woman.
Don’t you have a girlfriend, a close friend, a trustful partner?
Charles — I’m working on that, too. I have a potential girl. Just have to ask, really.
Actor — That’s what I’m talking about! But don’t wait too long. I’ve made that mistake before. Is she a rider?
Is she willing to do anything for you, trustworthy, does she like you a lot?
Charles nodded, halfway not understanding the question.
Actor — Oh, well then she’ll wait for you. Still, don’t take too long. Take my advice.
This term comes from an older one, “Since day one.” This is used to describe someone who has been there for you since the beginning, during hard times, and has stuck by your side the whole time. Calling someone a day-one means they are generally your closest and most trusted friend, and you respect them a lot for being there for you after years and years.
Charles — I won’t. She’s been a good friend to me since we met. I come from another country and it can be hard to make friends.
Actor — I get that. I couldn’t imagine being so far from home without family or friends close by. I couldn’t live without my day-ones, too. They’re the ones that keep me together.
Without my closest, most trusted friends.
Charles — Yeah, well I didn’t have any super close friends like that back home anyway. I had to make some new friends here. But Sheila and Jonah have been there for me in lots of situations. They’re like my new day-ones.
Actor — Well, that’s all that matters, isn’t it? Good talking, bro. I never knew your story, so thanks for sharing.
Charles — Don’t mention it. I’ll see you at the next rehearsal. Or the next time you lose your phone.
The actor laughed at this statement and waved at Charles with a sarcastic smile.
Actor — See you next time. And call that girl!
Saying bet is usually more informal, so it’s often used with friends or in casual settings. It’s not that it could be offensive, but it just sounds quite informal. It’s a pretty useful word you can use much the same as “okay, cool, for sure,” and so on. Ride-or-die and rider are mostly compliments and terms of respect, although they can be seen as disrespectful if they aren’t used correctly. “Rider” can have a negative connotation at times, so make sure the meaning is clear if you do ever use it. Otherwise, day-one is a very respecting and caring term, and it’s a great way to refer to a close friend, companion, or anyone that’s been there for you for a long time. We usually use it with friends though, and not family members like parents.
Do you get it? If you want, take some time to practice with these questions below. And make sure to learn some other words with the Adventures of Charles series. Be safe out there!
Can you use today’s words in your own sentences? Bet – Ride or die – Rider – Day one
Are there any ride-or-dies or day-ones in your life? Who are they?
What is something you would “bet money on?”
Have you heard the slang word “bet” before in casual conversation? When was that?
Every once in a while there comes a movie that is so big, so outrageous, and so crazy that it truly shocks us, the audience. Today’s movie under the spotlight will be The Wolf of Wall Street. We’ll take a look at some important aspects of the movie and how they shed some light onto this big complex thing called American society. Are you in? Read on, reader.
The Wolf of Wall Street is a movie from 2013 and based on the true life story of Jordan Belfort. Personally it’s one of my favorite movies of all time. Now that may be because I-heart Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio, and crazy movies in general, but there is more to this movie than Matthew McConaughey beating his chest and humming “hm-hm-hm-hmm” in musical fashion. It actually has a lot to say about American society itself, and we’ll be taking note of some of those things here.
If you didn’t see this movie, you might want to watch before reading this. Or who knows? Maybe this post will make you want to watch it. Last I checked it was available on Amazon Prime and Netflix with a subscription and Google Play or YouTube for rent. If you know where to find it for free, more power to you. I certainly feel like watching it again tonight. If you did see this movie, you might recall lots of cursing, sexual content, drugs, and everything else a Rated-R movie is sure to have. While that R-Rating is definitely a “green-light” for the movie-makers to go ahead and put basically anything they want in the movie, there’s a bit of truth to some of these things. As a director, Scorsese kind of loves to put cursing and bad words in his movies anyway, especially the 17-and-up ones. However, most of the movie takes place in and around New York, the biggest city in the nation. In the U.S., you are far more likely to have people who curse a lot and don’t follow the traditional moral values in big cities than you would see in smaller cities and especially the countryside. This is a common trait of most countries where big cities are centers of more liberal culture movements. So in the cities they let their words fly.
Remembering that the movie takes place in the late 1980s-1990s, this was a time that traditional American values were being greatly challenged and all kinds of movements were in the process of changing culture ever since the late ’60s. That means sexual liberation, decreased censorship, and the popularization of recreational drugs like cocaine and pills. The U.S. economy was in a boom during part of the ’80s too which saw lots of people on Wall Street getting very rich and scheming to make ridiculous amounts of money. So the whole premise of The Wolf of Wall Street is showing what the motives, lifestyle, and eventual decline of these Wall Street schemers was like during that point in history.
In the early ’80s, America was suffering a terrible economic recession considered the worst since the Great Depression about 60 years earlier. This is about the point we see at the beginning where Jordan (DiCaprio’s character), his wife and some acquaintances are going through hard financial times. This struggle is a big motive for Jordan and his friends to start their fraudulent company and steal so much money. This isn’t so hard to understand, since most crime is induced by difficult circumstances. That is until the culprits get greedy and make a whole enterprise out of their crimes. We also see some of the effects of the recession where you had some stock brokers enter into depression and even kill themselves due to their sudden loss of wealth and hope.
Now, when the economic boom came and these guys figured out how to make tons of money, we saw how loose their morals got. This is where all kinds of crazy things happen, many of them in the office space. Jordan even trades his wife for the stereotypical thin blonde. You have derogatory language and actions used against little people, people with deficiencies, women in general, animals, and people of diverse races. Women are particularly objectified and humiliated throughout the movie, which I interpret as a genuine representation of how men in power have seen women, especially since the ongoing sexual liberation period. All the derogatory ideas and language used represent how often white people in power have seen other communities in America. Our acceptance or attempts of being more politically correct have really gained ground recently where now it is becoming more and more taboo to make fun of people for deficiencies, their appearance, their gender, or sexual orientation. Essentially the movie shows us a time when all of those concepts were a lot looser, at least away from the cameras.
An interesting point of the movie shows Jordan and his associates going to hide money in a Swiss bank. There are certain countries and territories that have pretty loose banking/tax laws called “Tax havens,” and so rich people, including many wealthy Americans, have tended to “hide” their money abroad where they don’t have to claim it or pay taxes on it. As you might know, this is a continuing phenomenon. This whole concept as well as the money shed light on the greedy and capitalistic nature of the American economy and the nation’s elite. We see how these rich guys run around with naked women on their yachts, tricking each other, even leaving their own families behind, just to make more and more money. This is more so a statement about rich or greedy people in general, especially those that made their fortunes by stepping on others.
In an interesting way, it also shows what is possible and acceptable in the U.S. Of course, the vast majority of Americans don’t live like the characters in the movie and would probably disagree with several of its moral decisions (Lord, I hope). There was actually a lot of criticism on this movie for the excessive cursing, sexual content, and drug use. It actually had set a record for number of curse words in a single movie. Something interesting about that is showing how cursing is becoming more acceptable in American public life. I know there are some countries out there where cursing is totally natural and others where it is extremely discouraged. Even in the U.S., cursing has been looked down upon in the public eye for many years, even if lots of people did it at work or at home, for example. Again, you still have many Americans who discourage cursing, calling it a lack of intelligence, blasphemous or unnecessary. Yet there is a growing acceptance for bad words among Americans, and especially among the younger generations. No matter how religious or ant-cursing many of us may be, cursing is likely to become a non-issue in the next couple decades.
Something else I want to touch on in this movie is Jordan’s jailing. There is a general conception (at least by minorities) that white people in America often get an easier time at trial than minorities do. And certainly wealthy or famous people tend to catch a lighter sentence (less jail time) than poor individuals, even if they commit the same crimes. This is apparent when we see Jordan getting on house arrest and then going to a “white collar” prison. White collar criminals are those that commit crimes involving fraud, tax evasion, and other kinds of corrupt activities that don’t directly harm people’s safety but their wallets. Because these criminals tend to garner lots of wealth, they are able to pay and bribe for less prison time. Either that or juries don’t see them as being as dangerous as the common thief or murderer. Their prisons also tend to be in better condition than regular prisons, even having tennis courts as we saw in the movie.
Jordan’s arrogance throughout the movie came back to haunt him in the end when the FBI finally took him down. It’s sort of a lesson that the U.S. government always wins. The FBI is the main domestic investigative agency and answers to a federal department, so they sort of represent Big Brother’s check on the seemingly “endless” opportunities provided by capitalism, at least in this movie. Whenever you get too carried away, they will swoop in and take their part. And if they can’t get a part, they’ll at least make sure you can’t have anymore.
The Wolf of Wall Street is a very long and complex movie with lots of events and themes. There was a lot more I could get into and really explain, but this is a good introduction. I encourage you to watch the movie again (or for the first time!) and pay attention to these themes and tropes, maybe find your own representations of American or capitalist society. Write some ideas down in the comments if you feel like it! And tell me what you think of this movie? How much cursing is too much? Think about it! And take care, everybody.
We’re starting off a new section here in CultSurf just to give you all a bit of variety. We’ve been discussing culture, society, music, and movies from around the globe (mostly the USA, sorry, I’m a little biased). Some of you might be interested in learning more about the in-depth characteristics of English-speaking countries. We won’t focus too much on culture here, but more on geography and a few other things. I was really inspired by Geography Now on YouTube and I enjoy their channel, so I’ll share their video with the corresponding countries if they’ve made it already. They make videos about all the world’s countries from A-Z, so it might take a while for them to reach Zimbabwe, for example.
What does an American know about Canada?
So obviously I won’t be writing about myself or Americans that know a lot about Canada. I’m speaking about what I knew about the country before I started learning geography, and what my fellow citizens may or may not know already.
We know about some cities like Toronto and Vancouver, probably Montréal. Some of us like the name Newfoundland and joke at how hard it can be to pronounce.
We know it’s freezing up there. We’ve seen those pictures of polar bears walking through town.
Moose, caribou, Northern Lights, and the Arctic is somewhere up there.
We have to cross it to get to Alaska.
Funny accents, eh? And syrup, lots of bacon and syrup.
The Provinces & Cities (and Territories)
As we see on our lovely map, Canada has 10 subdivisions called provinces, plus another 3 called territories.
Central Canada has the two biggest provinces, Ontario and Quebec. This is also where you find the two biggest cities, Toronto and Montréal. It’s known as central Canada even though it’s not directly in the middle of the country. That’s because historically these were the main places to be settled by the British and French as the colony known as Canada. Later they spread out and acquired more land. These places have the most people and are the biggest economic and cultural influencers in the country. They’re also massive, reaching from the Great Lakes all the way up to the northern tundra!
The smallest provinces are in the general Atlantic Maritimes region, which are Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick. These areas were among the last to really join Canada as a united country. They had lots of immigration from Scotland and Ireland, and have a much stronger sea culture than the rest of the country. They’re sort of like the New England of Canada. They were also the main places that welcomed British Loyalist soldiers during and after the American War for Independence.
Then there’s out West. This area can be thought of generally as the Great Plains and mountains of Canada. Here we have Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia, though B.C. can also be thought of as the West Coast province. These were lands acquired after Central Canada was already set up, and are known for big open spaces, farming and agriculture, and lots of mountain stuff. There is major business and cultural influence coming from this part of Canada too, especially since Calgary and Vancouver are major global centers.
And then there were the Territories; Northwest Territories, the Yukon, and Nunavut. These, generally speaking, are three massive landmasses (haha) way up in the tundra and arctic of North America. They are very, very, very scarcely populated and mostly got attention during the gold rush years, especially in Yukon. Otherwise there’s lots of ice and natural beauty, but I’m pretty sure they’re the least known region of the country overall.
A little about the cities, you have Toronto, Ontario, the biggest in the country, that is known as one of the most, if not the most, ethnically diverse cities in the world. I think about half the city is non-white, if not more, and even the white population is pretty diverse there. The capital, Ottawa, is in Ontario as well. A lot of the world-famous artists from Canada come from this lower area of Ontario, like Justin Bieber, Drake, The Weekend, and so on. Niagara Falls is the home of those same falls, and Mississauga has some cool spacey architecture.
Montréal is the 2nd biggest mostly French-speaking city in the world and is also extremely diverse, as is the rest of Canada. Québec is a very traditional European-looking city, especially in the old town. Halifax, Nova Scotia and St. John’s, Newfoundland are important port cities and historic centers. Edmonton is the capital of Alberta and the biggest city in the world for how far north it is. Calgary is also a very big city and cultural center. Some other major cities worth your research are Victoria, Saskatoon, Regina, Winnipeg, and St. John.
What are They?
So we know Canada has provinces, not states. The provinces actually are quite similar to states in how they are run, and many freedoms that the United States are allowed, so too are the Canadian provinces. Provinces, in general, tend to come from more Empirical powers (like the United Kingdom was) and so this name stems from historical association. The United States were also at once independent states that united, while Canada’s provinces have mostly been under the rule of Britain except for a few exceptions.
Canada stayed loyal and sympathetic to Britain for much longer than the U.S. which could explain many things about their cultural identity. Otherwise, the territories are similar to territories of any country. Even though they are huge, they have tiny populations. This makes it so that their representation is a little less relevant on the national scale, and so they do in fact have less representation.
And the Commonwealth?
Like with province, there’s no universal definition of what a commonwealth really is. Puerto Rico and Guam, for example, are commonwealths of the U.S. Still, the British Commonwealth states have a lot more autonomy and are all considered their own sovereign states with some more or less cordial ties to Britain. The Monarch really only has a say in cases of a complete national or political emergency really, but otherwise Canadians are Canadians and not Brits. Although as I said before, they do and did keep stronger ties with Britain (and France, for that matter) over the years than the U.S. did.
Canada’s English-Speaking. What About Québec?
Good question. Canada traditionally had two main European colonizers: the English/British and the French. You’ll actually see this in a lot of English-speaking countries, where France took the colony from Britain or Britain took it from France and so there is a lot of mixed historical identity. Think of Louisiana, St. Lucia, or Cameroon. Geographically, Canada’s French-speaking population stuck mostly to one general area, giving this group a more distinct identity. People from Québec have long had mixed feelings about Canada, some wanting to separate into their own independent place while others just want more autonomy (not to mention those who don’t really care either way). Speaking English, French, or Punjabi, they’re all Canadians in the end.
Generally, there is pride in the history of French Canada, the part of Canada where the country got its name from. English and French are both official languages in the nation, but French is a lot stronger in Québecprovince, along with a few pockets of places in the neighboring provinces. You also get St. Pierre and Miquelon, which is an overseas territory of France (something like French Guiana, although it’s a full-on department of France) that borders Newfoundland and is fully French.
Talk More About Diversity
Canada is really one of the most diverse countries there is, and this is due to its historic reputation as an open arm for immigrants. The Asian (East and South) population and impact on Canadian culture is huge. German and Scandinavian identity is big in some regions, not to mention the largest communities of Icelandic and Ukrainian descendants outside those countries live in Canada. The country has also welcomed many from other Commonwealth states and former colonies, such as Caribbeans and Guyanese, Africans, Indians, and Pakistanis. The most influential though, hands down, have been the British and French.
Most Canadians live within a few hundred miles from the U.S. border which also impacts the culture. Northern Americans and most Canadians have a fluid cultural and societal mixture that influences one and the other. This is especially true of migration, business, and the arts. Lots of Canadians have American ancestry and vice-versa. And of course, the first occupants of the continent have had a huge impact on the country. In Canada, they are generally referred to as First Nations, and they themselves are as diverse and influential as the later foreigners that would create modern Canada. They generally are considered two main groups, the traditional people most of us think of as Native or indigenous Americans, and the Inuits, a set of people with a bit different ancestry.
Let’s End with Some Actual Geography!
Canada has a land area of over 3.5 million square miles, making it the second biggest country in the world after Russia. It has a population of about 38 million, less than countries like South Korea, Spain, and Uganda, which are way smaller. I mean, compare them on a map. The Maritimes are mostly chilly and rainy with oceanic climates and many pretty islands. The northern continuation of the Appalachian Mountain system goes up here, and way up North in Labrador to Nunavut you get the Arctic Cordillera range of tall, jagged, arctic mountains.
The south of Central Canada borders the U.S. by way of the super-important St. Lawrence River system, as well as the Great Lakes. This area is very hospitable and is where the biggest urban areas are concentrated. You also get big waterfalls and some dense forests on up to Hudson Bay which supports a kind of wet plain. It usually freezes over and so this is a major crossing ground for Arctic animals like polar bears. The middle of the country has an outstanding number of lakes, and the north is especially stocked with some of the biggest forests and highest amount of lakes on planet Earth.
Going back down, you get a general plains and prairies region that goes on till you hit some mountains. These are essentially the Canadian extension of the Rockies, and they go up all the way to the Yukon and even into Alaska. You have a fertile yet somewhat dry valley between those and the coastal mountains and rainy forests which also extend into Alaska. Above all that stuff is basically a large stretch of lakes, cold plains, forests, and taiga (basically a tundra with some scattered trees). Tundra covers most of that very northern part of the country where it steadily transitions into polar landscapes. This is especially true of the massive islands of Nunavut which reach all the way up to the North Pole (and Santa! Oh wait, he’s Scandinavian)
That’s all, you curious geography lovers! I hope you enjoyed mapping out this huge and special country called Canada. As promised, here is the Geography Now video. Please comment if you like Canada. If you are from there (howdy neighbor) comment if you want to teach us more about your fabulous home! Thanks, and we’ll be talking soon.
Have you ever wanted to practice your English while listening to Megan Thee Stallion? Well, you’re in luck! Take a listen to the song and read the lyrics. Learn some new vocabulary, phrases, or cultural pointers here in Lyrics “Explained.” If you have time, answer some follow-up questions below and read some other lyrics here on CultSurf!
Queen B, want no smoke with me (Okay)
*You don’t want any smoke… “Smoke” here refers to a conflict. It probably comes from guns, since sometimes people say smoke to refer to guns or shooting.
Been turnt, this motherf***** up eight hundred degree (Yeah)
*I’ve been turnt… “Turnt” means having lots of fun, feeling good about yourself, etc. It comes from “turned up” which means about the same thing. “Turning it up” refers to making the temperature hotter, or making things more exciting and fun. *Eight hundred degrees…
My whole team eat, chef’s kiss, she’s a treat (Mwah)
*My whole team eats… “Eat” in this slang sense means to get money and to have success. Remember that “bread” and “cheese” are also terms for money. A “treat” is normally something tasty to eat like candy. It can also be used to talk about a situation, event, or person that is really nice and that you like, almost like it is a gift. “Coming to see you during the holidays is always a treat.”
*She is so bougie… “Bougie” is another word for fancy or someone who has expensive taste. “Bon appétit” comes from French and is used in many languages to mean “enjoy your food.” This mixes well with the word “bougie” which comes from the French word bourgeoisie. Also because the French language, fashion, and food are considered fancy by many Americans and others.
“Savage” has become a way to compliment someone who is really cool, has lots of style, skill, and other good features. “Nasty” normally means that some food doesn’t taste good. In a sensual way, it can mean that someone is highly sexual and acts inappropriately. Having a “nasty attitude” means to be upset or angry about something. Megan is probably mixing all of these meanings into one.
Talk big s***, but my bank account match it (Ooh)
*my bank account matches it… To “talk s**” (also “talk crap,” “talk mess,” “talk stuff”) is to talk badly about someone or to brag about yourself. Basically she brags a lot about herself but she actually has the money to prove it, or to back it up.
Hood, but I’m classy, rich, but I’m ratchet(Oh, ah)
The “hood” is a lower-class neighborhood usually for underprivileged communities or ethnic minorities. Often these are places with more poor people, drug trafficking or gang violence, thought not always. To “be hood” is to act like the stereotypical person from these kinds of neighborhoods, which could mean loud, confident, but also enjoying fights and conflict. Again, this is the stereotype. “Ratchet” is a similar term that is used to describe women who act loud, cause conflict, and can get very “in-your-face.” It’s like she’s saying she’s the best and worst all wrapped into one.
Haters kept my name in they mouth, now they gaggin’ (Ah, ah)
*my name in their mouth, now they are gagging… She means that her haters talk about her a lot or criticize her. “Gag” is a form of choking, so her haters are now choking on Megan’s success. The origin of this phrase might be to “make someone eat their words.” This means to prove somebody wrong and be successful, especially when others are criticizing you. “John always calls me stupid. I’ll make him eat his words when I go to college.”
Bougie, he say, “The way that thang move, it’s a movie” (Ooh-oh)
*he says, “The way that thing moves… “Thang” is just another way to pronounce “thing.” It’s usually used more often by black Americans to add emphasis to that word. Here you might be able to guess what “thang” she’s talking about.
I told that boy, “We gotta keep it low, leave me the room key” (Ooh-oh)
This line comes from the term “down low” or “keep it on the down low.” Sometimes people say “on the low” or “low down” but it’s basically the same. The “low” is a secret or something secretive. The “room key” refers to a hotel room. Megan is showing her dominance by kicking her “boy” out of the room.
I done bled the block and now it’s hot, b****, I’m Tunechi (Ooh-oh)
*I have bled the block… Saying “done” like this is another way to say that “you have gotten done doing something” or you “finished something.” “Ouch! I done hit my toe!” “Bleed” here is related to the slang word “kill” which means to have a lot of success in something. Megan “bled the block” so she had a lot of success (in music, I’m guessing) on her block, or in her city. “Hot” of course means it is fresh, new, and everyone likes it. “Tunechi” is another name for rapper Lil Wayne. He made a famous song a while ago called “Tha Block is Hot“. Lil Wayne is also a very good and respected rapper, so she is kind of paying respect to him.
“Acting stupid” doesn’t necessarily mean that she is acting dumb or unintelligently. Sometimes “stupid” can mean funny, silly, or crazy. The way she pronounces “acting” like “ackin” is an informal way that some people might pronounce this word. Again, it’s more common in African American communities. Her “what’s happening?” isn’t a real question really. It’s just a rhetorical question seeing if anyone has something to say now. She’s doing so well that she leaves her haters speechless!
B****, what’s happening? (Woah, woah, okay)
B****, I’m a savage, yeah (Okay)
Classy, bougie, ratchet, yeah (Ratchet)
Sassy, moody, nasty, huh (Nasty)
Acting stupid, what’s happening? (Woah, ooh-oh)
B****, what’s happening? (Ayy, ah, ooh-oh)
Hips TikTok when I dance (Dance)
“TikTok” is the name of a famous social media app, maybe you’ve heard of it? It has a double meaning here though, since “tick-tock” is the sound a clock makes when the hands move. It’s like saying her hips shake and move back and forth like a clock. A lot of people view and like videos on TikTok, so it can also mean that her hips get lots of love.
On that Demon Time, she might start a OnlyFans (OnlyFans)
“Demon Time” is a series on the OnlyFans website that has to do with strippers and erotic dancing. OnlyFans is a place where people can post exclusive content directly to their fans and interact with them. It’s kind of known for having provocative content so that’s where the reference comes from.
*that B stands for… “Bands” is the same as money; a thousand dollars is one band.
If you wanna see some real a**, baby, here’s your chance
I say, left cheek, right cheek, drop it low, then swang (Swang)
“Swang” is the same as “swing.” It’s same idea as “thang” and “thing” from before.
Texas up in this thang (Thang), put you up on this game (Game)
To “put someone on the game” is to make someone attracted to you or what you are doing, or to get them “hooked” onto something.
IVY PARK on my frame (Frame), gang, gang, gang, gang (Gang)
Ivy Park is a clothing brand founded by Beyoncé. It’s on her “frame” or body, so she’s wearing her own brand clothing. “Gang” is just something that some people say to show excitement or enthusiasm for your “crew” or the people you represent. It comes from a song too, “GANG GANG” by Jackboys.
If you don’t jump to put jeans on, baby, you don’t feel my pain (Hol’ up)
“Hold up” is the same as “wait a minute.” This lyric is a reference to her butt, by the way.
Please don’t get me hype(I’m hype), write my name in ice(Ice, ice, ice)
To “get hype” is to get excited. It can also mean to get out of control, which is probably how Beyoncé means it. “Ice” in slang can mean diamonds. Writing her name in diamonds would be cool, and it also refers to her being “cold” or really good at what she does, maybe ruthless or someone hard to compete against. This comes from the phrase “write my name in stone” which means you are famous forever and people will always know your name.
Can’t argue with these lazy b******, I just raise my price
I’m a boss, I’m a leader, I pull up in my two-seater
“Two-seater” is a sports car with just two seats. It can also mean a person with a really big butt.
And my mama was a savage, n****, got this s*** from Tina
He want a b**** like thee Stallion with the knees (With the knees)
*He wants a… Megan is referring to the way she dances.
He be like, “Damn, how that thang movin’ in them jeans?” (Yeah, yeah, them jeans)
*He’s thinking… or He is like… How is that thing moving in those jeans? Saying “like” can be used to introduce a thought or dialogue in informal speech. “I was like, Come over, and he was like, Okay.” In informal speech some people say “them” when they mean “those.” “Them are some nice shoes! I want to buy them.”
Ayy, even D4L couldn’t do it like me, like me
“D4L” (Down For Life) is a rap group based in Atlanta that was popular in the early 2000s, especially for their song “Laffy Taffy.” They made a song called “Betcha Can’t Do it Like Me” which is probably what she’s referring to. D4L was like a one-hit-wonder, so she might be saying that she can make lots of hit songs.
Ooh, ah, ooh
I done got this body ready just for you
Girl, I hope he don’t catch me messin’ ’round with you
*I hope he doesn’t catch me messing around… To “catch” someone in this sense means to find them doing something they aren’t supposed to do. To “mess around” can be another way to say cheating on someone or sleeping with someone. It can also be just spending time with someone or having fun. Mess around has other meanings too, but these are some of them.
Talkin’ to myself in the mirror like, “B****, you my boo“
*you are my boo… “Boo” is a loving term that you call someone you love and appreciate like a partner, spouse, and less commonly a family member. Here she’s calling herself “boo” in the mirror.
I’m the s***, ooh
Saying this means that you are really great and awesome. It sounds like a contradiction, but that’s what it means.
I need a mop to clean the floor, it’s too much drip, ooh
“Drip” is style, confidence, attractiveness, and all of that good stuff in one. She uses a metaphor, saying she has “drip” but comparing it to a literal liquid dripping on the floor that needs to be mopped.
I keep a knot, I keep a watch, I keep a whip, ooh (Keep it real, ooh)
These are all things used to control or dominate someone. A knot (she keeps her men tied, they are stuck with her), a watch (she keeps them on the clock, as if they were working for her), and a whip (like slavery, basically, or maybe like Fifty Shades of Grey?). To “keep it real” means to be open, tell the truth, and show things the way they really are. Not hiding or lying about yourself.
Let’s play a game, Simon says I’m still that b****, ayy
“Simon says” is a schoolyard game where one person is in charge (Simon) and everyone else has to do what that person says. “Simon says, touch your toes. Simon says, stomp your feet” etc. When someone says, “I’m that __,” it means that they are the best or the one being talked about. “Wait, so who are you?” “I’m that dude. Ask your friends, they know.” Megan also could be saying that she is the same as before and hasn’t changed her ways, in a good way.
I heard they askin‘ for the Queen, they brought some cameras in here
*I heard that they were asking for the Queen…
I’m a bad b****, she’s a savage, no comparison here
A “bad B-word” is a term of respect and admiration for a woman who takes care of her business, has good looks, makes good money, and so on. Not all women like this term and it could be offensive depending on who says it or hears it. This goes back to the meaning of “bad” as something really good or cool.
I’ma flip my hair and look back while I twerk in the mirror
*I’m going to flip… You should know what twerking is. If not, just look up Miley Cyrus or somebody. Better yet, watch a Megan Thee Stallion video.
All this money in the room, think some scammers in here
A “scammer” is someone who tricks others into making money for themselves or makes money in a number of illegal ways. Megan and B make so much money that it looks as if they were doing it illegally.
I’m comin’ straight up out that Third (ah)
To “come straight up out of” something just means to come out of it or come from it. “Straight up out” here just adds rhythm and emphasis to the sentence, but it doesn’t change the meaning in any major way. Think of the slogan “Straight Outta Compton” (NWA came directly from Compton). The “Third” she refers to is the Third Ward of Houston, which I guess is where Beyoncé lived for a while. Interestingly, the way she pronounces “ah” after Third sounds like she could be saying “Third eye”, which is a light reference to the mystic third eye and deep perception. It’s actually referenced quite often in modern music and could just be used to mean a deeper level of awareness and success. It’s kind of associated with the Illuminati too …
“Whip” is a slang term for a car. When talking about cooking, “whip” means to stir something quickly and repeatedly until it forms a foam or cream. That’s why she also says “stir.” Basically, she’s driving her fancy car as if she were whipping some type of food, driving it in circles, doing tricks in her car, and so on.
Woodgrain, we swervin‘, keepin’ his mind all on these curves (Uh)
*We are swerving… “Woodgrain” is a finish on wood that makes it look more natural. The design of woodgrain has lots of curves and swirls in it. To “swerve” is to curve quickly, usually in a car around a corner or sharp turn.
Coupe flylike a bird (Bird), cold on ’em like, “Brrr” (Ice)
“Coupe” is another word for a nice car or two-seater, too. Also, a coop is a place where chickens and sometimes other birds are kept, so she plays with this pronunciation. “Fly” here has the slang meaning of being stylish and attractive, although she compares it to the literal sense of a flying bird. “Cold” here probably has a mixed meaning of ice (diamonds and jewelry) and looking really good, fresh, stylish, etc. Cold is an adjective but she uses it like a verb, which happens a lot in English. “Brrr” is the sound someone makes when they are cold (temperature). It’s also the sound rapper Gucci Mane makes a lot in his music, much for the same reasons as Beyoncé just now.
Always keep my words, no, I don’t do crosswords
To “keep your word” means to be honest and do what you said you were going to do. It’s like not giving up. “Crosswords” are those word puzzles that you see in newspapers or puzzle booklets. She plays with the idea of a crossword puzzle and “crossing” someone, meaning to lie, trick, or cheat them. It’s also like saying “she doesn’t go back on her word” (she doesn’t say one thing and do another).
Stallion when I ride, he like them hot girls with them hips, ah (Skrrt, skrrt)
*He likes those hot girls with those hips…
I hopped that s***, the way I hopped out and slid, ah (Skrrt, skrrt)
Repeating “skrrt skrrt” makes me think she really is referring to a car. She hopped out and slid (got out of) her car. That sound is very popular in hip-hop music lately, and it almost always is talking about a fancy car, usually when someone is arriving or leaving somewhere. I’ll leave you to figure out the rest of what she means.
I pop my s***, now watch me pop up again, ah (Woah)
This line is more inappropriate but an interesting note: to “pop up” can mean to show up or appear unexpectedly.
I mop the floor, now watch me sweep up these Ms, ’cause I— (Ah)
Mopping the floor is a reference to the previous line talking about “drip.” Now she’s sweeping up “Ms” (millions of dollars).
And the lyrics repeat.
Wow, that was a lot. This song is packed full of slang, informal expressions, double meanings, and pop-culture references. The whole song is basically about how cool, stylish, and awesome these two women are. They make lots of money, are sexy, close big business deals, and can walk the talk. There’s nothing much more to explain here.
What did you think of this song? Do you prefer the original or the remix?
Why do you think they focus so much on their physical attributes? Does hip-hop as a genre encourage this?
What’s your favorite Beyoncé or Megan Thee Stallion song? What is that song about?
Would you rather be a savage, classy, nasty, bougie, ratchet, or sassy? (What’s happening)
Welcome back to another Adventures of Charles! We’re going to look at just two words today, but these two pack a lot into them. Both of these are considered slang or informal words, and I’ll explain more about how they are used with some example dialogues. So, let’s read on.
So you know the first and most obvious meaning of this word. When the temperature is high, you get “hot,” or when food comes out of the oven, it’s “hot.” Similarly, there’s another meaning that has to do with food. A lot of the time we use hot to mean spicy, like a chili pepper. It’s used so frequently that often when someone says their food is hot, another person will ask if it is “hot hot” (temperature hot) or “spicy hot.”
It was a bright and sunny day, great for an ice-cold drink. Charles was finally “going out” to eat with his friend Sheila after several unofficial dates.
Charles — Goodness, it’s hot out. Is there a specific place you want to eat?
The weather is hot, high temperature.
Sheila — I know right? Let’s see … What about that Indian place. They have some good cold drinks there.
Charles — You like Indian food? I don’t know, I haven’t tried it before.
Sheila — Come on, it’s tasty! Super flavorful. The food can be a little hot though.
It can be a little spicy, have lots of spices.
Charles — Hot? You mean spicy?
She opened her eyes wide and gave Charles a big nod.
Sheila — Yeah!
Besides the meanings above, “hot” can mean a few other things. When referring to a person as hot, it usually means they are very attractive. It’s basically a synonym for “sexy.” When referring to an item or object, however, it usually has one of two meanings. Calling something hot might mean that it is really fresh, brand new, and so it is really good. Think of how a cake, loaf of bread, or pizza are best when fresh and hot out the oven (at least in my opinion). Another meaning for hot when referring to an object is that it is stolen. That’s right, stolen goods can be resold for a bigger profit, and those goods are known as “hot.”
The two friends entered the Indian restaurant and sat down to order their food.
Sheila — So, what should we order?
Charles — I don’t know, you’re the Indian expert. Which one is less hot?
Sheila — These options in green are less spicy. One thing I like about these restaurants is they always have Indian T.V. shows and Bollywood movies playing. Look.
He looked up at the screen and saw a small group of women dressed in loose colorful dresses and garments. Their heads and necks were covered in gold accessories, and they were shaking every inch of their bodies.
Charles — Yeah, I see what you mean. They’re kind of hot.
They are kind of sexy, attractive.
Sheila made a snort laugh at this comment and shook her head.
Sheila — Bold man. Hey, what’s that guy doing?
A strange vendor entered the restaurant with a bag full of random items.
Vendor — I’ve got items for sell, I got it all. Everything’s hot off the store shelves. Hey, nice young couple. Y’all want to buy a DVD, bottle of wine? Let me see …
Everything is new, in good quality, fresh.
Suddenly the restaurant owner comes out from the kitchen.
Owner — Yeah, I bet all of that stuff ishot! Go away, sir. This is the last time I tell you!
I bet all of that stuff is stolen, you’re selling it illegally.
The vendor left without saying a word, probably next door to try to sell his stuff.
Bougie – Boujee
The last word we’ll look at is this. Both of these are the same word, and in fact, they are pronounced the same way too. Spelling depends on the individual, and there are probably more ways to spell it. This word comes from the French term, bourgeoisie, which was used especially in the 1700s to refer to the French upper-middle class. The term became more derogatory because it referenced the materialistic values and stuck-up ways of the upper class. It got into English and apparently, “boujee” is an easier way to say it. Nowadays, it’s used almost in the same way, to refer to people who are stuck up, who put lots of value on material things, or those upper-middle-class people. Boujee is also used the same way as fancy or for someone who has expensive taste. Think of the song “Bad and Boujee” by Migos.
The food was finally ready and arrived at their table, sizzling hot.
Sheila — Oh, and here. I ordered you a lassi. It’s like a mixed yogurt and fruit drink. Maybe it’ll cool you off.
Charles — Thanks!
Sheila — Hey, slow down! You’re not gonna have any drink to wash down all this spicy food.
The waiter stayed and asked if they needed anything else.
Sheila — No thanks.
Then she said a few things to the waiter in a language Charles had no chance of understanding. The waiter smiled at her and walked away happily.
Charles — I didn’t know you spoke another language.
Sheila — Yeah, you’re not the only foreigner here, haha. Well, I was born here, but my parents weren’t. All my friends think I’m boujee for eating here because it’s kinda expensive. I’m just trying to keep connected with my roots. And the food is amazing.
My friends think I am trying to be fancy, have expensive taste.
Charles nodded in agreement and took a bite. He immediately started sweating.
Charles — Oh my God, this is so hot!
Like most of the words I cover in this series, boujee and hot may or may not be considered offensive when you’re describing a person. It really all depends on the tone of voice, the way that you say these words, and the perception of the person you’re talking about. For example, men usually don’t take offense to being called “hot,” but for women it could go both ways; some women might take offense while others could be flattered. It’s similar with boujee, because some people are proud to have expensive tastes. Others might be offended by being called stuck-up or trying to look rich. Regardless of if you use these words or not, you will definitely hear them in common speech and especially in popular music. And calling food “hot” is never offensive!
Can you use hot and boujee in your own sentences? What situations are best for these words?
Why might someone take offense to being called hot or boujee? Why might someone be flattered?
Have you heard these words in your English studies or listening to English? When was that?
Have you tried Indian food before? What did you think?
Languages learners, English enthusiasts … we have another one. Listen here to the audio version of “Where I go?” from the Adventures of Charles. You can listen to the audio by itself on this page or listen and read along with the original post here. Test your listening skills by answering some follow-up questions or writing a comment after. Follow the blog if you want to be notified directly of new content. Thanks and enjoy!
Thanks to my student Bianca V. for helping me with this audio!
Some practice questions:
In what situations might it be better to use “my bad”? What about “sorry”?
Have you ever said or heard these phrases when receiving an object or giving something away?
How do you usually react when someone bumps into you in the street or on public transportation? Would you be as respectful as Charles was?
Thanks for coming! Practice your English skills by reading and listening to the song lyrics. You can find more songs here on the website, too.
I wanted love, I needed love
Most of all, most of all
Someone said true love was dead
And I’m bound to fall, bound to fall for you
Oh, what can I do? Yeah
Take my badge but my heart remains
Lovin’ you, baby child
Tighten up on your reins
You are runnin’ wild, runnin’ wild, it’s true
Sick for days in so many ways
I’m achin’ now, I’m achin’ now
It’s times like these I need relief
Please show me how, oh show me how to get right
Yeah, it’s out of sight
When I was young and movin’ fast
Nothin’ slowed me down, oh, slowed me down
Now I let the others pass, I’ve come around
Oh come around, ’cause I’ve found
Livin’ just to keep goin’
Goin’ just to be sane
All the while not knowin’
It’s such a shame
I don’t need to get steady
I know just how I feel
I’m tellin’ you to be ready
To be “bound to” do something means that it is meant to happen or destined to happen. In other words, it is guaranteed. “If you jump off of bridges, you are bound to get hurt.” In this lyric, “falling” refers to falling in love. Sometimes people don’t say the “in love” part but it means the same thing.
“Badge” here can mean respect or honor since people who wear badges are generally respected and honored people. She took his honor but he still loves her (my heart remains).
Calling her “baby child” is a way to sound like he is in control or has power in the relationship. It also sounds like he feels pity for her because some people say this when they feel sorry for another person. Still, it’s a loving term.
To “tighten up” is to hold onto something tighter or more firmly. “Reins” are the equipment used to steer a horse or other large animal. That’s where we get the word “reindeer”. “Tightening up the reins” can be thought of as getting a strong grip on your life, controlling yourself more, behaving more appropriately.
This shows how “sick” can be a state of feeling terribly both physically and emotionally.
Of course, to “ache” is pretty much the same as to hurt. That’s why we say headache, back ache, etc.
*It is in times like these…
To “get right” is to feel better or live life better. When someone wants to have a more fulfilling and successful life, they want to get right.
“Out of sight” is more of an old-fashioned slang. It was more popular in the ’70s but obviously, people love the ’70s and so it’s still popular among some groups of people. It means that something is amazing, it’s so good that you can’t see it anymore, out of sight.
To “come around” usually means to come over, like to someone’s house. “What time are you coming over?” In this song, though, he uses a figurative meaning. “Come around” also means to come to your senses, or to realize that you were doing something wrong. You think more clearly now. “Finally, you stopped listening to that terrible rock band. I knew you would come around.”
“All the while” means the whole time. It’s especially used in situations when someone doesn’t know about something, but they usually find out later. “The kids were crying to buy ice cream after school when, all the while, there was already ice cream at home.”
“Such a” before a descriptive noun just adds emphasis, meaning it is a lot or in a big way. “He’s such a good guy (a really good guy).”
“Steady” normally means to be stable or in control, both physically and emotionally. To “get steady” then means to become stable or to gain control of himself/his emotions.
The song lyrics are quite short but there’s a lot of story in them. We have an old love seemingly from childhood, and a guy who insists on love when everyone else doubts him. It seems like for good reason since the love interest has disrespected him and hurt him. Still, like so many of us, he insists on keeping the relationship going, keeping hope alive, and denying he needs any help at all. I like the idea of these lyrics because he hasn’t yet resolved his relationship issues and he’s very much still trying to figure out what he’s doing, all while being a little bit in denial. Either way he seems to have a strong mindset about it and is warning us to “be ready” for when he is back on top of things. This story is not over yet!
Thanks for reading. Here are some things to think about and some questions to answer in the comments if you want to practice your English writing skills. I will give feedback on any comments or answers guys!
Do you know someone who should “tighten up” their reins and behave a little better?
Why do you think someone might tell you “love is dead?” Do you agree with this statement?
Do you like The Black Keys? What other songs do you like by them?
Why do you think they’re called “the black keys”, anyway?
The story of the U.S. is a complicated and controversial one, and few things add to that controversy than the question of race. Topics related to race, slavery, civil rights, citizenship, and even cultural identity can be traced to one of America’s most important groups of people. Speaking of that cultural identity you, as a foreigner, might have noticed that many famous movies (Coming to America, Training Day, Black Panther), T.V. shows (The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Everybody Hates Chris, My Wife and Kids), and social figures (Barack Obama, Martin Luther King Jr., Oprah Winfrey) are African Americans or star lots of black people. When you talk about singers and musical influence, black Americans almost take home the prize for most impactful internationally. With all this influence, you might expect to go to the U.S. and see tons of black folks walking around everywhere. But are there really that many of us?
I previously wrote about the misconception of America being pretty much all white, but this is an interesting turn of thinking. Maybe after seeing and listening to so many things featuring black people, you might conclude:
Hey, there has to be a lot of black people in the U.S., right? Why else would they be so prevalent on T.V. and music and all that?
Well, the answer would be no; black people in America aren’t as prevalent as you might think.
To be fair, even I was surprised by how many African Americans there truly are. Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of black Americans. As I said in a previous post, black people are actually a majority or almost half the population in several cities across the country, in places like New Orleans, Atlanta, Detroit, and many others. Despite all that, there are almost 330 million Americans, and people who identify as only black are 13.4% (about 44 million). So yes, that is a lot of black people, but it’s a small number compared to all the other people in the country.
Of course, you have to remember that many African Americans are not fully “black” but may identify as black because of reasons related to cultural identity, family ties, or simply not thinking that much about the question. You might find a light-skinned person with African ancestry more likely to identify as “black” if he or she grew up around mostly black people, lives around mostly black people, and identifies mostly with black American culture. This goes back to the “One Drop Rule“ in the U.S., to which I’ll leave a link for more information down below. That also leaves us with blacks who might consider themselves “mixed-race” even though they are darker-skinned, but that’s a little less common. By the way, colored and mulatto used to be acceptable terms for mixed people, but they are considered offensive by most people nowadays.
Although black people practically make up a small minority in the U.S., there are reasons why they might seem so prevalent on T.V. and other media. One is that the country is huge! 13 percent of 330 million is still a ton of people, so of course, they seem like a lot. Another point is that many of these people went to urban areas like big cities after slavery and especially after suffering discrimination/violence in the South. Cities are where most of the cultural output comes from, so that’s why we seem to have so many black actors, musicians, musical styles, and social figures. Several of these figures exist purely because of the discrimination blacks have suffered. Black people in politics are on the rise recently too, so that could add to this misconception.
One more point I want to make is that black people have been severely and openly discriminated against in the U.S. for centuries, and people who supported slavery had all kinds of misconceptions about race, ethnicity, and what was good for the nation. Of course black people, and almost any minority in fact, have suffered all over the world, but the U.S. handled it a bit differently. After creating some highly significant social leaders and leading its own power movements, a big push has been made by black Americans to support each other, promote each other, and work with each other. There has been such a big momentum with black people trying to “catch up” with white Americans and have equality that this has allowed black people to be present in almost all facets of American life. Think of “#OscarsSoWhite” and the following year when a ton of black movies and filmmakers won awards. Even though black Americans in general are pretty well represented and better off than black people in almost all other American countries (think of Haiti, Brazil, Cuba, and many African nations for that matter), there is always a push for more equality and representation. I suppose all people deserve this and I’m glad to help represent my country and ancestry, even if it’s in a subtle, blog-writing way.
Even if there aren’t as much of us as you might have thought, I encourage you to keep listening to our music, keep watching our T.V., and keep supporting our social movements. Black people just want respect like anybody else, and I’m sure that they’d be proud to know how truly influential black U.S. culture has been all over the world. Keep up the support!
Speaking of support, I appreciate you for reading this post! Feel free to check the resources below to learn more and keep an open mind. If you liked this post, read some other ones here on the website. Tell me what you think of black American culture or people in the comments, or send me an email at email@example.com. Cool? Peace and take care!