Learning American Slang Like a Baller

I spent summer 2010 in Germany, in a small town called Kassel working as an intern for a startup solar company. There were a few other international interns, but the biggest majority were American. The 4 Americans working at the company were put in one room, and the international interns in another, except for Dani from Barcelona.

Dani is super awesome, laid back, and funny. But one thing he just wasn’t very good at was using American slang. The first time I found out that Dani didn’t understand some slang we had used, I wrote down the word and the definition on a post it and stuck it by his desk. The tradition continued through the summer, with me and another of the Americans, Nick, being Danis main American slang tutors. It was usually Nick who would bust out with some slang, then Dani would ask what it meant, I would write it on a post it, and Dani would try to use it in his conversations.

The funnier moments came when it wasn’t one of the Americans who used slang that Dani didn’t know, but when Dani used slang incorrectly or pronounced a word with hilarious incorrectness. After lunch one day, we were walking back to the office and Dani told us happily that he was going to visit the bitches. Luckily with the context we knew what he meant, but we gave him a lesson in pronouncing the e sound that day, and had him practice saying beaches.

Not all of the slang are phrases I hear very often- Nick once said I’m shitting you, which I had to promptly explain to Dani meant I’m kidding, and write on a post it. When Dani tried to use it in a sentence later, he said I’m shitting on you. Not quite perfect, but he was well on his way to becoming a master of American slang.

By the end of the summer, his wall was covered in post its. Here is a sample:

Duh! = Obviously! Are you stupid?

Rocking it= Wearing it well (you’re rocking that shirt!)

I’m shitting you= Im kidding (not = I’m shitting on you)

Beaches=  🙂  / bitches=  🙁

Baller= Awesome

Klutz= He is a klutz, Clumsy= he is clumsy (like Nick tripping over wires)

Scheisse= shit (german)

Dani was a true prodigy in American slang and had a vast new and colorful vocabulary to call upon when conversing with Americans. So the night before I returned to the US, I made him a certificate to mark his completion of the crash course in American slang.