Do You Talk Like a Central Pennsylvanian?


Do YOU talk like you're from Central Pennsylvania?
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The Central Pennsylvania dialect typically has the following features:

  1. The word "pictures" /pɪkˈtʃərz/ is commonly pronounced "pitchers" [pɪˈtʃərz].
  2. The infinitive form to be is not used in certain contexts. For example, one would not say "The car needs to be washed.", but rather, "The car needs warshed."
  3. Use of the term you'ns [ˈjuː.ənz] (pronounced with a slight but clearly audible catch between "you" and "unz") for the second-person plural. For example "You'ns need to redd up yur room before Gram and Pap come over." The Central Pennsylvania you'uns is different from the Pittsburgh yinz or yunz and very much different from the Philadelphia area yous.
    An important phrase for the visitor to know is "Where you'ns at?" which means "Where are you [plural] located?" The singular forms: "Whurzee'at?" (see below for the dropped h), "Wherez she'at?" and "Whurzit'at?".
  4. The terms gram, pap, and mum are often used in place of grandma, grandpa, and mom, respectively. Other familial terms are the same as they are in Standard English, though the word cousin may be pronounced cousint [ˈkʌzɨnt].
  5. Use of the term one, where German phrases use the word eins, einen or eine. For example "Ich schlage dir gleich einen.", is literally translated as "I'm about to slap you one." The literal translation has become common, even though most Central Pennsylvanian speakers no longer speak German, or have learned it in school rather than home. The phrase is usually rendered as, "I'm about to slap you one upside the head."
  6. Use of the term redd or redd up to mean "to tidy". For example, "You've got to redd up before you can go outside." This is from the old Norse by way of Middle English and probably arrived with the Scots-Irish. (The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000)
  7. Use of the word goonie. A goonie is a largish rock but still small enough to be thrown. If a rock is too big to be thrown, it is not a goonie. Conversely, if it is smaller than a human fist, it is also not a goonie.
  8. Use of the word about to mean very. For example "You're about dumb." means "You're very stupid." Sometimes the word half is added for extra emphasis. Therefore, "You're about half dumb." means "You're extremely stupid." The term about is not a true substitution for very but rather it is understood to be an intended understatement on the part of the speaker. The about-half dumb construction has evolved into the otherwise incomprehensible Central Pennsylvania insult "You're about half!".
  9. Use of the word think as a syntactic marker for questions (Short for Do you think...? or similar). For example, One could say "Think she ain't about half?" To which the listener would reply "Think not." Think not is frequently used to convey agreement even if the first sentence did not begin with think. The phrase how 'bout it is also used to express agreement.
  10. Use of the phrase that'd be oddin response to something that happens frequently, and which is annoying to the speaker. For example, imagine the following conversation between two high school cleaning ladies:
    Mrs. Aumiller: Them kids was openin' up library books and spittin' chew in them again!
    Mrs. Hassinger: That'd be odd!
    Mrs. Aumiller: Think not!
  11. Use of the term hogged upto mean very drunk. Imagine the following conversation on a Friday afternoon at a Central Pennsylvania factory:
    Mrs. Kuhns: Me and Jack's gettin' in a fight tonight!
    Mrs. Fultz: Is Jack your husband?
    Mrs. Kuhns: No, Jack Daniels. I'll be all hogged up.
  12. Use of the interjections so I do, so it is, so he does, etc. following declaratory sentences. For example, "The car needs washed, so it does." Some speculate that this construction has its origins in literal translations from Celtic languages such as Irish and Welsh, but as of yet, there is no definitive proof.
  13. Use of the word "ignurnt" [ˈɪɡnərnt] to mean "rude", as in "You'ns are about ignurnt!" to mean "You guys are quite rude." Presumably, "ignurnt" was derived from "ignorant", as one who is ignorant of manners may be perceived as rude.
  14. The plural forms of game animals do not add an "s" or have any other plural marker; the singular and plural are identical, with the plural form being ascertained through verb declension or context. For example, one would say "I seen three turkey in them woods." Non-game animals have the same plurals as they do in Standard English. For example, one would never say "I seen three cow." or "I seen three horse in the Amishman's field."
  15. Many speakers of the Central Pennsylvanian dialect use different past-tense verbs that vary from Standard English. This appears mostly as a socialectal feature. Note that not all of these terms may be used by a single speaker. Some of these tenses are common in other dialects, such as African American Vernacular English and Cockney. Some examples of these variations:
    • sawseen
    • grewgrowed
    • knewknowed
    • camecome
    • gavegive
    • we, you, they werewe, you, they was
    Past participles are also different from Standard English; for example, "I should'duh went with'im." (generally spelled as 'shoulda') would be more common than, "I should have gone with him."
  16. The caught–cot merger is firmly in place. Caught and cot, and Dawn and Don are homophones.
  17. Him, her, them and me replace the Standard English he, she, they and I as the subjects of a sentence, but only in sentences with a compound subject. For example, one would say "Him and Mike went to the store." instead of "He and Mike went to the store." However, one would never hear "Him went to the store." Likewise, one hears "Mike and them are coming to the party," but one would seldom hear "Them are coming to the party." In Western Pennsylvania, them can be the subject of a sentence, even as a single subject. For example, one could say "Them's good eats." However, them is seldom used as a single subject in the Central Pennsylvania dialect.
  18. With some speakers, the ile sound is pronounced owl [aʊːl]. Thus, the following words may be homonyms: aisle and owl, file and foul; while and wow; mile and Mao; pile and pow; and Kyle and cow. Similarly, a double L is often pronounced as a double W; hence: "Biww, those piwws cost a couple dowwars!" [Bill, those pills cost a couple dollars!]
  19. With some speakers, the i between two consonants is pronounced like an e, as in Scottish. Thus like is pronounced lɛk. The following words may be homonyms:
    • did and dead
    • hid and head
    • rid and read
    • bid and bed
  20. Pool and pole can be homonyms so that pole barn may be pronounced pool barn, which is confusing in a real estate transaction.
  21. In some words such as garbage, the second a is replaced by long e sound or ee, making the word garbeege [ˈɡarbiːdʒ]. Also, the word him is pronounced eem (the h becomes silent). Thus /ə/ or /ɪ/ may be realized as [iː]. For example, at a football game Gedeem! [iːm] (The [h] is deleted) means Get him!Other examples:
    • Porridge[ˈporiːdʒ]
    • Message[ˈmɛsiːdʒ]
  22. Verb placement is sometimes derived from German, rather than following Standard English verb order. For example, "I saw him walking in town.", in German is "Ich sah ihn in der Stadt gehen." In the Central Pennsylvanian dialect, the sentence would be "I seen him in town walking."
  23. The word creek is pronounced crick [ˈkrɪk].
  24. The word wash is pronounced warsh [ˈwarʃ] or [ˈwɜrʃ].
  25. Intervening and trailing phonemes are frequently dropped or swallowed, as in some British dialects. For example, Up there may be pronounced uppair [ʌpɛər], going may be pronounced go-ehn [ˈɡoʊ.ɪn] and might as well may be pronounced mise-well. This is especially prominent in the phrase Jeet yet? meaning Did you eat yet?.
  26. Use of the term yonder to refer to or describe an ill-defined place.
  27. Use of the term let in place of leave in other dialects. For example, one in Central Pennsylvania would say, "Should I just let it on the table?"
  28. Leave may also be used in place of let or allow. For example, someone may ask, "You going to leave us go play?"
  29. Thus, a Central Pennsylvanian might describe his weekend activity thus, "I seen 'im goin' uppair yonder Scotia range huntin' turkey. He come back all dirty, an' had ta warsh his pants in the crick before his old lady letted him back in the house."
  30. Bathe is replaced with the term bath as in some British dialects.
  31. The word color is often pronounced keller [ˈkʌlər].[these don't match]
  32. The word eagle is commonly pronounced iggle [ˈɪɡəl].
  33. The phrase in standard English, "What are you doing?" would be "Whatchya doin?", if said fast "Chya doin?" [ˈwʌtʃə], [ˈwʌtʃjə], or [tʃjə].
  34. Nothing may be pronounced nuttin [ˈnʌʔn] or nuthen [ˈnʌθɨn].
  35. The world yammerin is used to mean, "To talk one's ear off." "What are you'ns yammerin about?" or "She'd been yammerin on the phone for 2 hour now!" (Note the singular "hour".)
  36. People of Central Pennsylvania often don't pronounce the "g" on verbs ending in "ing". For example, "Eating" would be pronounced "eaten". "Hunting" would be pronounced "hunten". Also, words in ending in "ting" are often replaced with "den". This holds true for words having similar endings to "ting" such as "tain". For example, "mountain" would be pronounced as "mounden" and "setting" would be pronounced as "sedden".
  37. When referring to consumable products, the word all is used to mean all gone. For example, the phrase "the butter's all" would be understood as "the butter is all gone." This likely derives from German, where one might say "Die Butter ist alle" in this case.
  38. Iron is pronounced arn [ˈɑrn].
  39. "You" is alternately pronounced "Ja" or "Jew". "Jew" is more common closer to Philadelphia.
  40. Elision often occurs with words that are followed by have, often only occurring as /ə/ at the end of the preceding word. "Coulda," "woulda," "shoulda," "musta," are good "examplesa" this. Could have would be pronounced [ˈkʊɾə] (with the intervocalic alveolar flapping rule applied), and "want to" is pronounced [wʌɾ̃ə] This also turns the phrase "did you" into "Didja".
  41. Ain't is often used in place of haven't', hasn't, isn't, aren't, and am not. Examples: "She ain't seen Joe since Mondee." "Ain't you'ns been to the store yet?" "This ain't good." "We ain't crazy!" "I ain't kiddin'!"
  42. Words ending in -ower are pronounced -ar. Shower is pronounced as shar, power as par, etc. This also applies to the word hour (pronounced as "are").
  43. /h/ is realizd as [j], word-initially, in some words. This means that h is dropped in words that start with hu like huge, humongous. etc. -- leaving the word sounding like yuge or yumongous.
  44. Pumpkin is pronounced punkin [ˈpʌŋkɨn].
  45. What? is often used to answer a question initiating conversation, followed by a brief pause and an answer to the question. For example, Man 1: "Did you get your hair cut yesterday?" Man 2: "What? (pause) Yeah, I did."
  46. "A while" is often used to refer to the present time. Ex. "Do you want money a while?" Translation. "Do you want money now?"
  47. "Then" is used at the end of sentences. For example: "Will that be all for you, then?"
  48. "To" is pronounced as "tuh." For example: "Are you'uns goin' tuh the store?"
  49. The letter A is taken out of "Orange", which causes it to be pronounced as "ornge." For example: "Are you'uns hungry for an ornge?"
  50. "Slippery" is pronounced as "Slippy". Example: "Be careful, the roads are slippy."