Yeah You Rite!

1985, 28 minutes, produced and directed by Louis Alvarez and Andrew Kolker
This award winning film is a fast paced, humorous look at the colorful way the residents of New Orleans express themselves - why they talk the way they do, where the words come from, and what it means to talk with a New Orleans accent.

First Place Winner, Birmingham Educational Film Festival.

The culture of New Orleans represents the mixing of many rich traditions: French, Spanish, African, Irish, Italian. At the heart of this unique culture lie its speechways, the subject of Yeah You Rite!, a close-up video profile of a single language community. New Orleans English has been influenced by the city's rich and varied history, leaving it with dozens of unique words and phrases that all New Orleanians understand but which frequently baffle visitors: words like "lagniappe," "bobo" and "neutral ground" as well as hard-to-translate expressions such as "king cake" or "suck the heads and squeeze the tips" (the proper way to eat crawfish). Yeah You Rite! is a spicy and colorful tribute to this unique dialect.

A few of the points included in Yeah You Rite!

  • How New Orleans English has been influenced by the city's rich and varied ethnic history.
  • How the local way of speaking helps bind together disparate cultures of the city.
  • How some dialects are considered more socially prestigious than others.
  • The remarkable lexicon of local expressions that all New Orleanians understand, such as "lagniappe" (a little something extra), "bobo" (a scratch), and "neutral ground" (the strip in the middle of a boulevard).
  • How working class African Americans and whites confront social pressures every time they speak.

If you already use American Tongues in your classes, Yeah You Rite! provides a fascinating case-study example of the linguistic forces in one American city. At the same time, Yeah You Rite! can stand alone as a richly enjoyable introduction to urban linguistics, easily extrapolated to your own community.

Yeah You Rite! was supported by a grant from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities.