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Yinz and other regional vocabulary

Moderator: hansioux

Yinz and other regional vocabulary

Postby Mother Theresa » 30 Jun 2009, 04:28

I was in Yosemite Natl Park, in California, last week and ran into this guy. . .


Thanks to my exposure to Tigerman, I asked him, "are you from Pittsburgh?"

"You bet," he replied. :)

Interesting how a single word can peg a person's residence, even thousands of miles away.

Yinz is a second-person plural pronoun used mainly in southwest Pennsylvania, including Pittsburgh, but it is also found throughout the Appalachians. (See: Pittsburgh English.)

Yinz is the most recent derivation from the original Scots-Irish form you ones, which is probably the result of contact between Irish and English. When standard-English speakers talk in the first person or third person, they use different pronouns to distinguish between singular and plural. In the first person, for example, speakers use the singular I and the plural we. But when speaking in the second person, you performs double duty as both the singular form and the plural form. Crozier (1984) suggests that during the 19th century, when many Irish speakers switched to speaking English, they filled this gap with you ones, primarily because Irish has a singular second-person pronoun, tu, as well as a plural form, sibh. The following therefore is the most likely path from you ones to yinz. . .

In other parts of the U.S., Irish or Scots-Irish speakers encountered the same gap in the second-person plural. For this reason, these speakers are also responsible for coining the yous found mainly in New Jersey and the ubiquitous y'all of the South.

Yinz's place as one of Pittsburgh's most famous regionalisms makes it both a badge of pride and a way to show self-deprecation. For example, a group of Pittsburgh area political cheerleaders call themselves "Yinz Cheer," and an area literary magazine is The New Yinzer, a take-off of The New Yorker. . .
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Mother Theresa
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