Lexicon is everything in surfing. If you don’t know your air reverses from your full-roters, or your dropped wallets from your cutties, you’re in serious trouble. It’s especially rough because, well, words are constantly changing. Not to mention, some that sound nearly the same can say very different things about who you are. Case in point, the words bro, bra, brada, and brew (or bruh). Here are some helpful observations to help guide the uninitiated.
Depending on where in the world you come from, bro has different connotations. In parts of Southern California, for instance, calling someone “a bro” as in “that guy’s a total bro” has become a pretty demeaning way to refer to a person whose attire consists of Dickies shorts that go well below the knee, long socks, puffy shoes, and a hat worn extra low sometimes with the bill curled up. The shittiest part about that reference is that while such attire, typically associated with folks from inland communities, is looked down upon, for some reason it remains relatively socially acceptable to call someone “bro” as in “What’s up bro?” Elsewhere in the country, to non-surfers, a bro often is the average surfer. So, it depends where you come from. Variations of bro, e.g. broheim, broski, Charles Brokowski, are always acceptable. As is the common refrain to bust a friend’s chops, “Cool story, bro.”
This is a tricky one. It’s not uncommon (in Hawaii, especially) to hear what sounds like bra or brah, i.e. “Ho, brah.” There’s a soft “d” in there somewhere, though (see number 3).
Bra, with a hard “r” and long “a” is different. And it’s been mainstreamed in such a way that it’s not uncommon for non-surfers to give surfers a hard time by throwing a corny shaka, giving it a shake and delivering their best Spicoli impersonation with a, “What’s up bra?” For those whose lexicon still includes this word, it may be time to hang it up. Just sayin’.
If you find yourself saying “brada” (including the soft “d” version, see above) with any frequency, you must be from Hawaii. Either that or you can thank Hawaii for it. Inherent in the word is an Aloha spirit and rhythm. It just rolls off the tongue.
4. Brew (or bruh)
If you’re saying this, you’re either from South Africa, or you’re one cultured soul. If it’s the former, saying brew (alternatively written: bruh) is second nature to you – think dude in Southern California. It’s not even specific to surfers in that case.
If it’s the latter, though, you probably enjoy the finer things in life: travel, curling up with a good book, a nice full-bodied merlot, and perhaps some exotic food. Good on you.
Any more observations about these words or similar ones? Tell us in the comments below!