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A collection of snippets of the books I write and, occasionally, my life and the things that inspire my writing...

Monday, April 29, 2013

A to Z "Y"

Y is for "Yinz"

And for Yay! One letter left to go. What a great month doing the A to Z Challenge You can click that link to find other participants.

Back to "yinz".  When I was a kid, like all kids, I learned the language that was spoken around me, including the dialect. But, when I was a kid, I didn't know that. I just figured I spoke English. Oh, and those people over in England, and the people down south spoke with  funny accents.

Ha! Imagine my surprise...  ;-)

One of the words I grew up saying was "yinz". That is Pittsburghese (the dialect of Pittsburgh PA, USA)  for saying: you guys, you all, y'all, yous, you ones, all of you.  Though we joke about it, the dialect is quite real. Carnegie Mellon University offers classes on it.

Anyway, I had no idea I didn't speak mainstream American English, and couldn't even hear the difference in pronunciation between how I sounded, and say..how  major network news anchors sounded. Holy cow. I talked just like Walter Cronkite.  :-)

Of course, school tried hard to take it out of us, to teach us proper grammar.  And for the most part, it worked.  But there were some sneaky little words that persisted, and until I was an adult, I had no idea that people other than locals didn't say "red up the house" -- meaning to clean the house, jaggerbush--for thorny brambles, or nebby--for busybody.

And it's not just words unique to the region, it's flat out pronunciation that's unique as well.

When my daughter went to college and began taking linguistic classes, my real education began.  She'd come home and tell me things that sort of amazed me. One of the things I learned as a side effect of her linguistic classes is just how much I write like I talk. Uh oh!

I immediately began paying attention to how I said things, how I expressed things, the order of words I chose. And I started eliminating certain words from my vocabulary. (By then I'd already eliminated 'yinz' from my vocab. I hadn't said it in years). On one of my daughter's weekend trips home from school, I commented to her that I was working on changing how I spoke--and in the process, the way I wrote. She told me that she wasn't.  Her dialect is part of what makes her, her.  And she added that the way I write makes me, me. That infusing dialect adds to a distinct voice. Well, within reason.

I'll share one short video to demonstrate extreme Pittsburghese dialect. I reiterate--this is extreme dialect. And I don't think I talk like this at all. But yinz would be a better judge of that than me. (lol)
The video is a one minute clip known locally as the "yinzer tornado".  It's real.

If you want to read further because you are fall down, roll over. fascinated with the subject, you can read more by clicking here: About Pittsburghese

Happy "Y" day, all. :-)


  1. Boy Howdy, Ya'll Yankees do have 'Funny Accents', and sound bunches more like that Walter fellar on the BoobTube than us Texans.

    Now that is writing like I USE to talk, but proper grammar education, peer pressure from Non-Hicksters, and age have pretty much weeded out the 'Yinz' from my vocabulary...except when I want it to 'Show'. I still write like I talk because when I don't, it sounds like my Yankee Cousins speaking Texan with 'YouGuy's instead of Ya'll. I do speak and write a really good 'Old Cowboy Vocabulary' thanks to my Dad.

    Now, I've gotta go 'RedUp' around here.

    My Letter'Y'...Confessions of A YarnAholic
    Sue CollectInTexasGal
    AtoZ LoneStar Quilting Bee

  2. I come from a part of the country (the Upper Peninsula of Michigan) where "yous" and "yous guys" are the things to say. I don't think I say them anymore, but I really notice it when others do.

    The vocabulary around this country is so different. I lived in Nebraska for a while, and they said "soda" instead of "pop" (I grew up with "pop") and "sack" instead of "bag." (I still like "bag.") It all took some getting used to. :)

    I enjoyed the video, but wow—scary!

  3. I always laugh when someone reads my writing and asks what a gopher or a bunnyhug is. Little things I just assume the world knows. lol. Loved your post.

  4. I keep reading that regional accents are disappearing and that makes me sad. They're so cool and I love hearing the differences as you travel through the country.

  5. This was great! As a New Yorker by birth I totally get how you don't realize how regional we become in every way until someone points it out or we move away. I've lived in the south for almost 30 years and I still speak Long Island! Hey it's me just like Yinz is you!

  6. Wow! I was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA and I thought everyone back east might as well be from England. You all were hard to understand. But I had my own wake-up call when I traveled back east and it was ME with the funny accent! It's all relative...

  7. I cannot even start talking about accents. I have been in the states and still have not picked up the real American accent yet. Our kids talk NY accent which is almost like the television accent.

  8. Thanks for visiting my blog.

    If you think linguistic styles are interesting, try coming up to Canada and having chats with some of us. We'd have fun!

    Blessings and Bear hugs!
    Bears Noting
    Life in the Urban Forest (my poetry blog)