Speaking and Understanding Pittsburghese

Hello SHARE friends. Well we're down to the wire with SHARE in Pittsburgh starting Sunday, so I need to get you some information on speaking and understanding Pittsburghese.

Pittsburgh English, locally referred to as 'Pittsburghese', is a dialect influenced by many different immigrant languages, including Scots-Irish, German, Welsh, and Eastern European. Most of it you'll understand just fine, and it'll just sound like a bit of a strange accent. But there are some idiosyncracies.

First, there's simple pronunciation variations. The Steelers become the “Stillers,” wash becomes “warsh,” and downtown becomes "dahntahn". And since it's summer, you might hear Pahrits instead of Pirates.

Then there are morphed words like “yinz” substituted for “you guys" and slippy instead of slippery, and n'at - "and that" - basically 'and so on' or 'along with some other stuff' Are yinz going out for dinner n'at? Dahn air is 'down there', as in 'What time you goin dahn air?' Similarly Back air is back there.

Next we have the complete removal of the linking verb 'to be'. The car needs washed. The grass needs mowed. A Pittsburgh teacher even sent a note home stating 'Blanks homework needs reviewed by parents.' There's a whole debate on the validity of statements that remove 'to be'.

Then there are just words...I don't know. I'm sure there's an origin for all of them, but I try not to tax my brain too much by overthinking things like that. Here are a few:

Dippy Eggs - Over Easy Eggs

Gumband - Rubber Band

Nebby - Nosy

Sweeper - Vacuum Cleaner

Jagoff - Idiot

Clicker - Remote Control

Gob - Moon Pie (Two chocolate cakes with cream filling)

Pigs in a Blanket - Stuffed cabbage, not hot dog thingies.

How's Come - Why

Macadam or Amosite: Pavement, asphalt

Crick - Creek Despite being out of the area for 25 years, this is one I still can't break. Not that I'm trying all that hard. It really is a crick.

A whole nother - Another. 'That's a whole nother ball game'

You might expect a waitress to ask you 'Wuddle it be for yinz?' This translates to 'What would you like to order?' Contrast this with the other side of the state of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Dutch side, where the waitress would say 'Can I get yous anathin?'

For your information, in Pittsburgh it's 'pop' not 'soda', and Carnegie is pronounced car-NAY-gee, not CAR-ne-gee. And to feel like a local, just call Pittsburgh, 'Da'Burgh'. Sheetz is the local 7-11 type store. It's a hoagie, not a submarine sandwich or grinder or hero. Kilbassa or Kahbossy is the correct pronunication for Kielbasa. The days of the week end in dee. Mondee, Tuesdee, etc.

Some words and phrases combine pronunciation and morph, like 'Git', which is 'get out'. Plurality is questionable. You might go dahn to da Kmarts, or find that stuff on the internets.

There are also Myron Cope-ism's that permeate the language. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myron_Cope Pronounced Marn, Cope was the longtime colorful and quite excitable announcer of the Pittsburgh Steelers and added to the vernacular. 'Yoi', a Yiddish expression, is an exclamation, like 'Oh my', and is one of his most famous. 'Hmmm Ahh' is the equivalent of today's 'whatever'. "So hmmmm ahh, the Steelers will go on defense now". And Da Bungles are the Cinncinatti Bengals.

If you need more assistance, http://www.pittsburghese.com/ has a translator and an audio quiz.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pittsburgh_Dad has many great videos of the classic curmudgeonly father from Pittsburgh and has Pittsburghese down to an art form.

Have a great day!

Mary Anne



1 Comment


July 31, 2014 10:34 AM by Rich Wolff

dahntahn is downtown

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