“Word to your mother” is something you may have heard in rap songs. Or said by people during reality tv shows. Some of you may have read that phrase and be wondering what the Hell it even means?
Today, I want to take a dive, not only at what it means but where it comes from and why it’s such an interesting phrase.
What does “Word to your mother” mean?
“Word to your mother” means “I agree with what you’ve just said”. It comes from the phrase “word to the mother”, which arose during the 1980s’ Afrocentric movement in America. In this context, “the mother” referred to the motherland- Africa, where many African Americans originally descended from.
What was the “Afrocentric Movement”?
The Afrocentric movement in the 1980s was a way for black people across the United States of America to unite with one another. All of them had several things in common.
They all had similar experiences of racism and could relate to one another and talk about experiences that they could not have spoken about to white people. A lot of them also had a similar heritage, with their ancestors brought to the country as slaves.
The Afrocentric movement’s purpose was to give black people in America a voice and a platform to air their grievances and celebrate their culture and heritage.
What does “word” mean?
In the past, “word” was simply something you wrote down. It was made out of letters, and if you put several together, you got a paragraph.
But recently, “word” has also taken on a slightly different meaning. When someone says “word” to you, they are implying that they understood what you have just said- it can also be a sign that they agree with it.
Today, however, “word” is just something people might seem to seem cool or fit in with their friends. A lot of the people who say it probably don’t know about its original context.
Why do different races have their own slang?
The name of the country is the United states of America. So why do different races have different slang?
As you probably know, the language you use comes from the environment you grew up in. This could be your parents, school, friends, and even the internet. Because America used to have many segregation policies in the past, it’s only natural that the language used by black people became slightly different from that used by white people.
Even though segregation is not law anymore, because of policies such as redlining, black Americans will still use slightly different slang to white people.
Other examples of ethnic slang
Let’s take a look at some other examples of slang used by black Americans.
“Finna”- about to.
“I’m Finna, go to the shops.”
“My homey made me a delicious cake!”
“G”- stands for gangster but means friend.
“Me and my G got some flowers for his grandma”.
Other ethnic minorities in America have developed their own slang.
“FOB” is Asian slang for “Fresh off the boat”. It’s an Asian person who has recently immigrated to America.
“Weeaboo” is Asian American slang for someone (of any race) with interest in traditional Japanese culture.
And most races will have a word for a member of their race who others perceive to be “acting white”. For Asians, this could be Banana or Twinkie. And for black people, it could be Oreo.
Does “black slang” exist?
Some people argue that the idea of “black slang” is a nonsense term, and such a thing does not exist.
Yes, there are terms which are more commonly used by black people than white people. However, the language we use is formed by the communities we’re a part of, not our skin colour.
Terms such as “word to your mother”did not evolve based on anyone’s skin colour. White people who grow up in predominantly black communities will often use “black slang”. Black people who grow up in predominantly white communities will use “white slang”.
Why people say “word to your mother” today
These days, most people who say “word to your mother” are not aware of where it comes from or how it came about. The main reason people say it today is for “street cred”.
It’s often used by rappers who say it because it will grab the listeners’ attention and increase the chances of dancing along.
It’s even being said by white people, most notably, rapper “Vanilla Ice”.
Examples of “word to your mother” in a sentence
Let’s take a look at a few examples of how people might say “Word to your mother” in a conversation.
“That concert was amazing! I loved his new songs.”
“Word to your mother. It was one of the best songs I’ve heard”.
“Did you hear about Alfies new job? I’m so excited for him!”
“Word to your mother. He’s worked so hard for this.”
“I think we need a serious debate on the relationship between the police and our communities.”
“Word to your mother. We can’t be living in fear all the time.”
Alternatives to “word to your mother”
Of course, there are other ways of showing that you agree with someone. In situations where “word to your mother” might not be appropriate, here are some alternatives you might want to think about.
- “I agree.”: No metaphors here. Just right to the point, telling us what we need to know.
- “Totally”: Slightly more casual. But more people will know what you mean by this than “word to your mother”.
- “100%.”: Useful for when you want to emphasise the extent to which you agree with what’s just been said.
- “Very True!”: Usually said without much thought as a natural reaction to something you agree with.
You might hear “word to your mother” is said by the local kids trying to be cool. But most who say it aren’t aware that it comes from the phrase “word to the mother”, referring to the motherland of Africa.
It’s interesting how America’s past segregation and racism have led to different ethnic groups developing their own slang and lingo.
Hopefully, now, you have a better idea of what “word to your mother” means, and next time someone says it to you, you’ll have a better idea of what they’re talking about.