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Street Slang

• volume 1 • number 4

How is your "American English?" Can you translate this sentence into standard English:

"Don't go dolo without a burner or else a posse may think you're a Herb."

This sentence comes from a New York Times article about gangs at Jefferson High in Brooklyn. What it really means: "Don't go out alone without a gun or another gang may think you're weak."

Idiomatic or slang expressions are a common part of American English. Unique expressions are developed in each industry and many individual companies. How do outsiders or job candidates view this exclusive banter? Next time you ask your staff to run the competition out of the water ­ think about the dictionary definitions of the words you are using.