Pittsburgh English n 'at for visitors and newcomers

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For details on the fascinating subject of Pittsburgh English, we turn to Wikipedia.com, the online, somewhat reliable interactive encyclopedia:

Pittsburgh is the linguistic center of a dialect region covering most of Western Pennsylvania as well as parts of northern West Virginia, eastern Ohio and a small area of western Maryland. The Pittsburgh dialect, often referred to as Pittsburghese (or Yinzbonics), contains substrates reflecting the ethnic heritage of the region: Scotch-Irish, German and Slavic. There are still vibrant ethnic communities in Pittsburgh, composed of both recent immigrants and third- or fourth-generation Americans, particularly in the South Side and Squirrel Hill, where it is not uncommon to hear people speaking Polish, Russian and Serbo-Croatian.

With the advent of mass media, along with an influx of technology workers, localized vocabulary is becoming less common, though is still noticeable; use and even some innovation are found among young people who feel a strong sense of local pride. Regional features in speech are heavily class-marked; working class Pittsburghers use far more local features than the upper middle class.

Clip 'n' save

A language guide for visitors and newcomers:

Babushka, bandana or head scarf; occasionally refers to an elderly woman or your grandmother.

Buggy, shopping cart.

Chimbley, chimney.

Chipped ham (pronounced "chipp'tam") or chipchopped ham, very thinly sliced ham for sandwiches.

Crick, creek.

Cue-pons, coupons.

Dahntahn, downtown.

Dippy eggs, eggs not fully cooked, with the yolk runny.

Guchies, underwear.

Gum band, a rubber band.

Jag-off, vulgar, an extremely disagreeable person.

Jag around, to waste time; to mess with someone in a non-serious fashion.

Jaggin yer wires, expression meaning "pulling your leg."

Jagger bush, any shrub with thorns.

Jeetjet, phrase, "Did you eat yet?" (Often accompanied by "Nojoo?")

Jumbo, bologna lunchmeat; sold at Isaly's as square jumbo.

Kennywood's open, interj., said to men only; indicates that the guy's fly is open. (Kennywood amusement park is open only during the summer months.)

N 'at, contraction, "and that." Means, "along with some other stuff," as in, "Yinz wanna go dahn ta Isaly's 'n get sommadat square jumbo n'at?" (Do you all want to go down to Isaly's and get some of that square baloney and a few other things?)

Neb, to investigate or take interest in things that are none of your business.

Nebby, given to prying into the affairs of others; nosy.

Nebs**t, vulgar, a person who habitually cannot mind his own business.

Nuh-uh, interj., no way. Opposite of yuh-huh.

Pop, a soft drink.

Redd up, intermediate step between tidying and cleaning. "Yinz better redd up this room."

Soda, refers strictly to only unflavored carbonated water. (Not the same as pop, e.g., Pepsi, Coke.)

Slippy, slippery

Stickies, Post-It notes.

Stillers, the Steelers.

Sweeper, a vacuum cleaner.

Terlet, the toilet itself or the name of the restroom.

The tube or tubes, either the Fort Pitt or Liberty tunnels through Mount Washington.

Yinz or yunz, second person plural pronoun. (It's losing some ground to you guys and yall.)

Worsh, wash.

Our word-saving grammar

Verbs containing "to be" in standard English do not bother with it in Pittsburgh English. Thus, "the cat wants to be let in" corresponds to "the cat wants let in" in Pittsburghese, and "the car needs to be washed/the car needs washing" to "the car needs washed." This grammatical structure is from Scots dialect, which historically had major linguistic influence in the region.

The adverb "down" is frequently used in expressions with "to go;" Pittsburgh English: "I'm going down to the Benches" [the benches outside the Squirrel Hill post office, a popular hangout for teenagers] corresponds to standard English "I'm going to the Benches."

Web sites n 'at

For more fun, check out english.cmu.edu/pittsburghspeech, a site for non-linguists created by Carnegie-Mellon University linguist Barbara Johnstone, and www.pittsburghese.com, a site mostly for laughs.

Contact us at pleo@post-gazette.com , or 412-263-1112.


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