A Brief Glossary of Tunnel
A Brief Glossary of Tunnel
The lingua franca of the Underworld is English (it lies below New York City, after all, and at least nominally, that’s the main language of the city). However, the language spoken by the Underworlders is filled with specificity to their environment and their lifestyle – a slang that reflects the mix of cultures that make up the population, combined with the circumstances they endure, unique to the Underworld. Mix this with healthy helpings of the latest street slang from the Upworld (brought in by Homeless Traders), and there you have the base patois, called Tunnel. Other languages are spoken, including Spanish, Chinese, Haitian, Creole..hell, even 17th Century Dutch in some places…but Tunnel is the common ground that most denizens share.
Agarthan (n): someone who’s spent a long time down deep, or (adj) a deep tunnel or place. Thus also, something which goes on for a long time, eternal.
Amadan (n): An idiot or fool. From the Irish.
Baggered (adj): Scared, terrified – from the Dutch phrase “bagger schijten”, meaning literally “to shit mud”.
Ben Zsona (n): Son of a Bitch. From Hebrew.
Bounce (v): To get out, to leave.
Christ-time (n): The time of day from roughly 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm when cars pack the Upworld streets so fully that an Underworlder could walk the length of Manhattan Island solely on the car’s tops, like walking on water. Also named for the most common epithet coming from the drivers of those cars.
Climbing the down (n): To kill time, of to be stalled in one’s effort, from the result of trying to go up a down escalator.
Clockwork Zombie (n): A derogatory term for a Junkman.
Crow-Ho (n): A derogatory term for anyone who wears a preponderance of leather, PVC, rubber, nylon or other “goth” accoutrements. A reference to James O. Barr’s comic book series, The Crow.
Domain (n): One of the political territories of the Underworld, something like a nation on the surface.
Duckets (n): Money (from ducats, an old form of coinage).
Fastness (n): A variety of Domain that is restricted – usually walled, and closed to strangers.
Freehold (n): A variety of Domain that is open to all travellers.
Hellenback (v): To travel a long way, especially through difficulties. Ex. “We hellenbacked all the way to Brooklyn.”
Jack Roll (v): To rob, usually from someone who is helpless. Often shortened to either “jack” or “roll”.
Jump Stiles (v): To leave, rapidly – from “jumping turnstiles” in the subway.
The Frizz (n): One of the more youthful synonyms for the Radiance.
Green (int.): Understanding. Usually in the form of a query or response: “We green?” “Yeah, green.” Taken from green indicator lights in the subway tunnels, showing that the way is clear.
High-Tide (n): The time period that comes from 5:00 am to 8:00 am (roughly), when the Upworld is having their morning showers and the resultant extra water flow comes through the pipes. Also can be used for “very soon”.
The Horde (n): The collective name for the legions of Upworld people who fill the stations everyday around Christ-time.
Hording (v): Walking of traveling amongst the Horde – a dangerous practice, but sometimes necessary.
Kissed the light, or Kissed it (v): Killed, as if hit by a train.
Latch (v): Hang around, group with or be connected to.
Muter (n): Nickname for Upworld train riders, from commuter.
Norm (adj): Crazy
Push (n): Gossip or advance word, from the strong wind that comes before a subway train.
Rolex (n): A generic name for Upworld treasure of significant value, usually jewelry or the like. Plural is rolexes. A rolex could be worth hundreds of duckets.
Scheduled (adj): Destiny, unavoidable, again a reference to the train.
Screamer (n): Once any train. Now usually means an express – going fast and likely to kill you. Named for the train whistle.
Spad (v): To push on with something despite being warned or forbidden, usually with dire consequences; to make somebody lose their temper by keeping on at them when they’re obviously annoyed. From SPAD (Signal Passed At Danger), a technical term in railway usage for going through a stop signal.
Sparing (v): Begging from the Upworlders.
Surf (v): To travel by riding the tops of subway trains.
Tanned (adj): Out of the loop, not in the know.
Tracking (v): Walking, traveling, roaming, often at a leisured pace of aimlessly. “We hellenbacked to Coney, and then we were so clocked we just tracked for a while”
Third Rail (n): A person or thing dangerous to be around, in reference to the story of the third rail carrying electricity.