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The World's Greatest Language31 August 2002
Most people in America speak English. Many speak Spanish. Still others speak French or German or Italian or Hindi or Mandarin or Japanese or any one of over 100 languages and dialects that can be found in the home of the brave and the land of the free. Of course, everyone is proud of his or her language as language and culture go hand in hand. And who doesn't think his or her culture isn't the greatest thing in the world? ("I'm proud to be a Gugnodo! We built the first mounds of dung before the pyramids appeared!")
Poor fools. Poor deluded fools.
Don't they know that while their languages are okay (after all, you can call a taxi in most of them, and order some food, and tell the spouse to take out the garbage or invade that village over there), there is only one language that has the color, charm, fantasy, enthusiasm, and descriptive power to make it the number one language in the world or at least that part of the world that is worth discussing. Of course, we mean the casino world.
And yes, we're talking craps. Or, rather, the lingo of craps.
As with all great languages, craps has its own dictionary (you know a language has made it when it has a whole book devoted to it!), a slim volume titled A Guide to Craps Lingo: From Snake Eyes to Muleteeth. What Webster did for the English language, Chris Fagans and David Guzman have done for craps.
Once you have read this book, you will be truly bilingual. You'll be able to speak your inferior language and the superior language of craps.
Let us give you some linguistic enlightenment:
Of course, everyone knows what "snakes eyes" means (your daughter's boyfriend), and everyone has heard of "yo" as in Rocky's classic comment after he suffered serious brain damage: "Yo, Adrian, I did it!" Poor Rocky, when asked what he had actually done, he couldn't quite remember. So he said: "yo-eleven" which he thought was the round he had been knocked out in. And that's how "yo-eleven" became a craps call. In honor of really stupid New Yorkers, the "eleven" is sometimes referred to as a Star Wars character, "Yo-Duh."
And did you know that "Little Joe" is not just a character on the old Bonanza series but another way to say "four." You could also say "Tutu." No, not in honor of the South African bishop or to describe what a ballet dancer wears, but again as another way to say "four."
Remember that old Rosemary Clooney song, "You Give Me Fever"? Well, I was five when I first heard it and guess what -- that's what fever means in craps -- a "five." So when you put your bet down for a "five," just say: "I got a fever for you." Of course, if the dealer doesn't know what that means, he might think you're coming on to him or he might get upset because he thinks you have some rare tropical disease or both. Here's a colorfully disgusting call from a stickman when the "five" rolls: "Five! It'snot in the field, clean it up!"
The number "six" doesn't have many really good synonyms, but "the lumber number" certainly conjures images in the imagination best left unwritten in a family paper.
The "seven" is the most dreaded number in craps after the shooter has established which point he's shooting for. It is called the "Devil" and "Big Red." When a shooter rolls the "seven" it can take a player to hell ("do" bettors) or to heaven ("don't" bettors). And all craps players know, or should know, that if you say the word "seven" out loud at the table, bad luck will happen -- usually in the form of a big, superstitious guy with a wicked left hook heading for the mouth that is just finishing up saying "seveeeeee" -- thump!
The "eight" has several colorful appellations. Try these the next time you place the "eight." "Give me a square pair!" "I want two windows." "Make that block fours." When the shooter's number is "eight" and he makes it, dealers can say: "He eight it!" Or, to be more genteel, a dealer might say: "Meet Ada from Decatur."
Speaking of women, when the "nine" is your point and you make it, the dealer can shout: "Nina from Pasadena!" as Nina, plain and without the attendant city, also means "nine." For some reason a "nine" can be referred to as a "Jesse James," perhaps because he was shot with a 4-5 (which equals nine). And for scurrilous stickmen, the call of "nine" goes: "9-9-9 just like mine!" (Deluded braggart!)
Evidently the British have gotten involved when it comes to the "ten," which is labeled variously "Big Ben," "The Ripper," "The Queen's Crown" and something too gross to mention in mixed company or even alone. It is also called "Sunflowers," "Double Nickels," "Venus and Mars" and a "Tennessee Tottie."
Finally, you have the famous "Box Cars" or "twelve," which can also be called: "Midnight," "The Apostles," "Six-Packs," and "Muleteeth."
Most cultures have a religious component and some scholars would say that religion and culture go together like a horse and carriage (or was that love and marriage?). Anyway, you will find many religious and moral sayings in the culture of craps, as in this plea to the craps deities: "Come on, baby needs a new pair of shoes!" Of course, baby needs a new pair of shoes because pop is busy playing craps with the shoe money!
Peace on earth, good will to men? The craps equivalent is much easier to understand: "Dice -- be nice!" And here's the most dreaded of all craps calls: "The devil jumped up!" That means the nasty "seven" just ended a shooter's roll.
This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at email@example.com.
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