Ask a life-long Brooklynite if he has an accent and you’re likely to get this rapid-fire response: fuhgeddaboudit! Ask a typical European what that means, and you’re likely to get a befuddled look and silence.
Today Translations has posted an ad on craigslist seeking speakers of “‘Brooklyn English,’ with good knowledge of accent, slang, nuances” to help foreigners who “find it an unexpected challenge.”
The freelance gig pays up to $210 a day. It’s open to anyone who can decipher such Brooklynisms as “not for nothin,’” “cawfee” and “whatayagonna do?”
“We’re looking for someone who loves the dialect and is able to understand someone who has the heaviest Brooklyn accent,” said Mick Thorburn, spokesman for Today Translations.
Along a stretch of Carroll Gardens dotted with Italian businesses, the job offer drew a smorgasbord of reactions.
Vinny Mastellone, owner of Mastellone’s Italian Market on Court St., said he never has a problem tawkin’ to the tourists who stream into his shop.
“I have fun with them,” Mastellone, 49, said.
The job posting drew laughter from Joanny D’Amico, who runs D’Amico’s coffee shop near Degraw St. She admitted that the dialect spoken in the neighborhood can sound like a foreign language to outsiders.
“We don’t speak in full sentences,” D’Amico said. “We kind of mush it all together.”
Danny Calcaterra, a retired longshoreman from Bay Ridge, said the problem cuts both ways.
“I have a tenant from England and I can’t understand a f—–g word he says,” Calcaterra said, noting that whenever he leaves Brooklyn, nobody seems to understand him.
“I was in Britain, I had trouble. I was in St. Martin, I had trouble. Same thing in Vegas,” added Calcaterra. “I almost got locked up in Canada. You say one thing. They don’t understand you. They lock you up.”
Brooklynese is not entirely unique, experts say.
The tendency among Brooklyn stalwarts to drop an “r” at the end of a word as in “deah,” for instance, is shared by the British.
“There’s no linguistic reason why a New York City accent should be more difficult to understand for a person overseas,” said Kara Becker, a doctoral candidate at New York University who has studied city accents.
Augie Giglio, a retired electrician who moved to Brooklyn from Italy when he was a kid, said he could relate to foreigners who need help with the accent.
“Sometimes, you get high-class Italians, their dialect is so far beyond me,” Giglio, 60, said, pausing. “Fuhgeddaboudit!”