Denise Whiting

Hold up, 'Hon': Baltimore's black vernacular youthful, dynamic if less recognized than 'Bawlmerese'

Hold up, 'Hon': Baltimore's black vernacular youthful, dynamic if less recognized than 'Bawlmerese'

In national consciousness and popular culture — from John Waters' "Hairspray" to "Saturday Night Live" — Baltimore speech is populated with "hon," the "O's" and plenty of "Natty Boh."

Such "Baltimorese" or "Bawlmerese" is typically ascribed to a white working class — often of an earlier generation — and is relatively static, say experts and locals. But within Baltimore's African-American community is a vernacular that, though less prominent nationally, is youthful and highly dynamic, they say.

The difference even starts with the name: "African-Americans tend to pronounce Baltimore 'Baldamore,' whereas...

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