NEW YORK -- If you "beam up," you're not headed for the starship Enterprise, you're getting high on crack. But if you're "popping junk," you're not using heroin, you're gossiping.
That's the word according to a dictionary of street slang compiled so the city's beleaguered public school educators can understand, and thus control, their highly colloquial and often unruly students.
Peter Commanday, an instructor in the schools' Division of School Safety, says he began compiling "Slang: Words and Terms" when he was dean of discipline in a junior high school in the city's South Bronx neighborhood.
"I didn't understand what I was hearing," he said. When kids greeted him, "What's happenin'?" he was so unhip, he'd actually try to tell them.
"I had all these degrees and these kids were speaking to me and I did not understand what they were saying," he said. "But I needed to know street slang, because that is the language of violence, and that was my business."
The dictionary contains 221 words and expressions, from "ain't no thang" (no problem) and "audi" (to run) through "zimmer" (girl) and "zootie" (high or crazy).
The dictionary doesn't discuss the origin of the terms.
It was compiled by Commanday and hundreds of graduates of "Peacemaking: The Management of Confrontation," a course he teaches for administrators, teachers and school security officers interested in learning how to prevent and defuse school violence.
The glossary is top-heavy with the language of drugs and conflict, including "shermed" (high on PCP), "cap" (to hit) and "base" (argue).
Some terms are used in only one part of the city, others across the country.
Since one purpose of slang is to exclude outsiders such as parents and teachers, presumably a term's inclusion in Commanday's dictionary renders it hopelessly passe among the experts. Slang that was obscure only a few years ago, such as "def" (terrific, real good, cool) and "home boy" (good friend, pal) already has lost some of its cachet.
Slang, in fact, becomes part of the language so fast that Commanday uses slang to define slang. After reading that a "bazooka" is "a joint laced with coca paste," a teacher -- okay, a really naive teacher -- would have to flip to "joint." But there are three definitions: 1. marijuana; 2. jail; 3. a fight.
Educators and other school personnel must understand the lingo because much of the violence and other trouble in school begins with talk. "The human tongue," Commanday insists, "is the most volatile, dangerous weapon brought into a school building."
Commanday, 57, says he broke up 1,000 fights and confiscated 400 weapons during 15 years' service in the South Bronx. In his Board of Education classes and the workshops he leads around the country, he uses slang and profanity to talk to and abuse educators "just like the kids would." But he says slang shouldn't be used to speak to students, only to listen to them.
When school personnel do speak to students, they often "talk dirty" without ever cursing, according to Commanday. They're likely to use what he calls "the two dirtiest words in the language -- 'calm down.' It denies the validity of whatever has upset the other person. You're dissin' him -- showing disrespect." Glossary
Among terms in "Slang: Words and Terms," educator Peter Commanday's 221-word/phrase dictionary:
Bust this: watch this.
Crib: house or apartment.
Fly: terrific, great.
Maxing: relaxing comfortably.
New sack: new kid.
Toy cop: school security officer.
Tray eight: .38-cal. revolver.