Date: Fri, 26 Jan 1996 16:59:38 -0500 From: Donna Metcalf Subject: Re: street slang I teach at a small, private, alternative high school where we have some "African American urban youth" who definintely be talkin the street talk. This morning I asked two of them about your expression. Jimmie White said, "It mean a lot of things." First he said it means stick up or rob. He explained that if he has a gun and says break yourself it means "give me your money, your rings, like another word for stick 'em up." I asked him what if the person being robbed had no idea what this expression meant and he laughed and said he would then say, "Empty your pockets, fool." He said it was an everyday word. It also means better yourself, as in "Better break yourself before you wreck yourself." I walked up to the second student and simply said, "Break yourself." He gave me a very funny look, reached into his pocket, and handed me a big wad of bills. (I asked no questions) Then we talked about the expression. He said, "When you're getting jacked or something." And said the translation of jacked was robbed, of course. He also said the second meaning was "Break your ways and do better...buckle down." This student said the first meaning is more common. Donna Metcalf Note: Jacksonville is not an urban area, rather a small town in central Illinois. However, I also teach at our local prison and think these kids in our school talk much like the students there, and they are mostly from Chicago.