Tuesday, July 17, 2012


It's no secret that I love my city...I mean look at all the posts I've done about this great town...
There is one thing about Pittsburgh, though, that I have yet to cover... so, here we go (this post is reading intensive!).

I remember my freshman year of college (Fall 2008). It was first semester and every freshman was required to take a public speaking course entitled "GCOM". Being in a new state, far from home, not yet acclimated to college life, I was extremely nervous to speak in front of my peers. The first assignment was to write a casual speech about something that you strongly believe in and in turn, persuade the class to believe what you are saying.

As the homesick little freshman that I was, surrounded by cowboy boots, southern frat boys, country music and people confusing Pittsburgh with Philadelphia (there's a BIG difference!!!!), the only thing that came to mind at that point was that I believed in Pittsburgh, my home. I then turned the speech into persuading the class to never forget the city that they grew up in because it is in part of who each person is today.

Because I was emotionally invested in this speech and because I was scared to death to speak in front of the class, I worked really hard to compose a speech that would convey the love that I have for my roots (I mean, 4 years later and I still have most of this speech memorized, that's how hard I worked!). 

Long story short, the speech was a success. I remember it being one of my first A's. The reason I bring this up is because in any public speaking course from middle school and beyond, you first learn that they key to addressing any public is to create an "attention getter". In middle school I remember lots of classmates would use songs to start out and then as we got older and wiser, quotes, statistics and stories were employed.

Well, for my "attention getter", I spoke with an accent. A Pittsburgh "accent". Also know as a "yinzer". For those unfamiliar with Pittsburgh, there is a certain dialect in southwestern Pennsylvania where it is common to hear "you's guys" and "yinz" (similar to a southerner's "y'all"). Funny enough, I ended up sounding like I had a bad southern accent... but it still worked... Here's an excerpt of my intro (said with an accent):

"I'm from a place where three rivers meet. The Ohio, the Mon, and the Allegheny. I shop at Giant Eagle for chipped ham, pop and jimmies for my ice cream. My favorite food is Primanti’s “sammiches” and my grandma's Sunday night “sketti n'at”. As far as I’m concerned there is only one football team and that is my beloved “Stillers”; six time Superbowl champs. To this day, I still wish the “Bus” would come back and play just one more game. On Saturday mornings, I go to the “strip” and on Saturday nights, I go “dahn” to the “sauth side” to drink some “ahrn city buhrs”. My favorite musicians include Donnie Iris, The Clarks and Wiz Kalifa. During the summer, when it finally passes 50 degrees and all of the “slippy" ice has melted, I head to Kennywood for the Potato Patch fries and to Idlewild for company picnics. I tie my hair back with a “gumban” and my favorite “kellers” are black and gold. I may be “nebby’ but I am definitely not a jagoff like the city of Cleveland. On Sundays, I grew up to the voice of Myron Cope on the radio, cheering the “Stillers” to victory."
I am unfortunately and fortunately not a yinzer. Most suburban-dwelling Pittsburgher's don't have an accent, but for some people it is thick (if you are interested, YouTube (yes, I use that as a verb) "Myron Cope" and you will get a heavy dose of the accent). Here is a brief lesson on how to be a yinzer (words that I may actually use):

Buggy: A shopping cart
Dippy Eggs: Sunnyside up
Jimmies: sprinkles
Kennywood's Open: your fly is down
Nebby: Nosey (my mom always tells me to stop "nebbing around" around the presents during Christmas)
Sweeper: vacuum cleaner
N'at: (I use this one jokingly) "and that".. "Let's get some hoagies n'at"
Babushka: Scarf worn atop a woman's head
Pop: soda
Blinkers: car's turn signals
Clicker: Television remote
Rag: wash cloth
Hankering: a craving "I've got a hankering for Primanti's"
Sherbert: Sherbet (ex. orange sherbet)
Living Daylights: "You scared the living daylights out of me!"
Tubes: tunnels
The T: subway/metro/train
Buccos: The Pittsburgh Pirates, "let's go bucs"
Press: to iron clothing
Yak: to talk a lot "she was yakking away"

Do you have any sayings or words that you use that may sound unfamiliar to people in other regions? I am always curious as to what words differ by geographic location! Have a fabulous day!



Anonymous said...

We used to always go to Idlewild when I was little...nothing made me happier than the storybook forest!

Molly said...

I love posts like these that talk about different accents/customs from different cities. In Michigan, we also say "pop," "blinkers," and "sweeper."

We also call up north tourists "fudgies," and tourists from Chicago/Illinios are called "FIPs," which stands for "F_____ Illinios People." (I'll let you fill in the blank.) We run our words together to create new words. (i.e. Secretary of State = Secreteriahstate)

Midwest accents are so weird, but I've come to embrace it. =)

My Life as A Plate said...

hahah this is so funny. Even though I didn't grow up in Pittsburgh after living here I've started saying a few "yinzer" words, such as to "pitch" something in the garbage and also leaving out the "to be" in a sentence. I now sometimes say, the door needs shut, rather then the door needs TO BE shut. hahahah

Wine and Summer said...

I am not from Pittsburgh, but I went to school in PA and my roommate is from the 412 and after living with her for so long and visiting a few times, I got most of these references! I love shopping at Giant Eagle and listening to the Clarks!

CLP said...

Great post! I am not from Pittsburgh and have never been but I really enjoyed it. I am from Baltimore (I know our cities have their rivalries, Ravens v. Steelers)and there is a distinct "Bawlmer" accent (John Travolta kind of does it in the movie Hairspray). I don't actually have the accent but I can impersonate one. A lot of the yinzer words you posted are also used by Bawlmer hons (e.g., jimmies, press, sherbert..)

I just had to move away from my beloved hometown of Baltimore to a midwest city and this post really made me smile today!

Sarah Brooke said...

I just visited Pittsburgh for the first time a few weeks ago! We thought "yinz" was hilarious. Great post!

Courtney Elizabeth said...

What a great testament to your hometown! I'm from Kansas City, which really does not have a distinctive accent, but I sort of wish it did :)

Charlotte said...

This post is great! I have learned living in the Midwest that everyone thinks I say really weird things since I am from South Carolina and I think Midwesterners talk funny! My fiance's parents live north of Philly and I think some of the things they say are weird, too!

I said "cut on the lights" and my coworker went huh?? Guess she wanted me to turn ON the lights! And of course here they say pop for soda. They also call a koozie a huggie and I laugh because huggies are diapers! I saw clicker and blinker too but I think sometimes I say remote instead of clicker. How do you pronounce creek? Tyler's dad from western PA says crick. It cracks me up!

Love all the unique things about different areas. I remember working so hard in my public speaking class and gotta love an attention getter!

Crazy Shenanigans-JMO said...

I've been over that bridge at least 30 times! Love Pittsburgh!

Anonymous said...

i'm from the DEEEEEEP South (South Georgia) and we actually say some of the same things that you talked about...like jimmies, 'pressing' dress shirts, and buggies! Although, I'd go out on a limb to say that we say muuuuch slower! :)

Grace said...

This made me miss my friend Liz, ho recently moved to Pittsburgh! In Iowa, we do say pop, living daylights, blinkers, sherbert, rag, press, and yak, haha.

xo M said...

I am from around the Pittsburgh area but have been living away from home the entire summer, and reading this post has reminded me of how much I miss it! I laughed so many times while reading this, everything you included was so spot on!

xo M

Karin said...

I spent a week in Pgh last month and fell in love with the city! I have very deep roots there going back four generations, although I have never been. I met some elderly cousins who still live there and who insisted we meet for lunch at Eat-N-Park. Ha! You did not mention the spectacular site to behold if you drive into Pittsburgh at night. Its breathtaking to come out of that tunnel and suddenly see the city lit up. I would live in Pittsburgh in a heartbeat-ideally in the lovely home my great great grandfather built in Shadyside, sigh- but I could never drive there. I have never been so lost in my life!

Karin said...

PS I also absolutely adored the yellow bridges. We were told the color is patented and is called. ...... Allohmon yellow (sp?) after the three rivers. Isnt that cool?

CashmereLibrarian said...

I'm from Pittsburgh too and have tried to lose my accent...living in the Midwest for many years has dulled it, but I hear myself sound like a Western Pennsylvanian from time to time! Have a Steeler license plate holder on my Illinois car!


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