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The Jersey Shore at Cape May, New Jersey

The language of The Jersey Shore

As a New Jersey native and self-confessed reality TV junkie, I enjoy watching the television show Jersey Shore, and recognizing some of the local vocabulary  – terms like benny (a non-local who comes down to the Shore, usually used in a pejorative sense) and youse (an informal plural of ‘you’). The show also introduced me to a whole new exciting lexicon coined by these guidos and guidettes (female guidos).

DTS after GTL…

Probably the most well-known term from the show is the initialism GTL, which stands for ‘gym, tan, and laundry and describes the daily must-do ritual of working out, tanning, and doing your laundry. (Any self-respecting guido must GTL every day.)

One of my favourite Jersey Shore initialisms is DTS, short for ‘down to snuggle, meaning ‘interested in cuddling/snuggling’. This initialism probably derives from a more vulgar term the Jersey Shore group uses: DTF, meaning ‘interested in having sex’ (enough said!).

Juicehead or lean cuisine?

While the meaning of most of the terms used by the cast can be figured out with a bit of guessing and context, sometimes it feels like they are speaking a completely different language. Take, for example, something one of the girls might say: ‘I’m after a gorilla juicehead, but her taste is more lean cuisine. But definitely no grundle chodes!’

This may sound like gibberish, but regular viewers will know that the girls are talking about the type of guys they are interested in: gorilla and juicehead are both terms for a muscular beefed-up guy (juicehead comes from the idea that he’s juiced up on steroids), while lean cuisine (not the frozen TV dinner) is a term for a slim and lean fellow, and grundle chode for an unattractive guy. The origin of the charming term grundle chode lies in vulgar slang for certain parts of the male anatomy, and the female equivalent would be described as a grenade.

It’s T-shirt time!

My favourite coinage to come from the show is T-shirt time, which refers to the time when the boys change into clean T-shirts (so they are fresh) before going out for some clubbing and fist pumping (an energetic thrusting of the fist while dancing). Particularly endearing is the way some of the boys have started to announce T-shirt time by singing a little song about it. To be honest, I think that’s why I love it so much…

While some of the most interesting vocabulary tends to be new terms, such as T-shirt time and GTL, rather than accepted Jersey slang, such as guido and benny, the show remains a fascinating insight into another culture – and for a word enthusiast, there’s never a dull moment.

The Jersey Shore cast have just recently arrived in Italy to film the fourth season. Does this mean we can look forward to an influx of Italian words influencing the gang’s lexicon? I certainly hope so.

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