I sometimes refer to myself as “just a steel town girl” because a good part of my childhood was spent growing up in Pittsburgh. But anyone familiar with the delightful, almost musical way someone from Western PA speaks, aka Pittsburghese, might actually question whether I am just another girl from Pittsburgh, er Picksburg.
Just the other day I found myself struggling to describe the uniqueness that is the way a still-tahn gurl might converse n’at with a friend of mine. As I said words like :dahntahn, still mill, stillers, nebby, gumbandz, Jine Iggl, Ahn City, jagoff, n’at to her I could see her eyes start to glaze just a bit as she shook her head saying, “Sure, Laura.”
But it’s true. It’s all true!
She laughs some more.
Yeah, she isn’t believing this fable.
I may not ever really learned to speak like a native, but I have no problem understanding the language.
“Listen, yinz, ta this story. Last Mundy, when I got home from dahntahn Picksburg, I redded up the hahse, worshed the clothes and did the arning, n’at. Then I decided ta take a break coz I was gettin’ rilly hungry. I looked ina fridge, but it needed stocked. Alls I had was butterbread and leftover city chicken. No jumbo, no chipped ham, no kolbassi.
So I headed aht to Jine Iggl. I got me a buggy and picked up a hoagie, some pop and a duzn eggs in case I wanted dippy ones in the mornin’. When I got back home, I headed aht to set by the crick ta eat in peace and quiet. Just as I was gonna take a bite a my sammich, my nebby neighbor, Shurl, shows up, wantin’ ta know how I been. Whiles we’re chattin’, I see a grinny sneak up and start nibblin’ on my mill. I tried ta chase him, but the grass was slippy, and I fell in ta the jaggerbushes. I never been so flustrated.”
For those who are scratching their heads, allow me to translate for you:
“Listen, all, to this story. Last Monday, when I got home from being in downtown Pittsburgh, I cleaned the house, washed the clothes and did the ironing. Then I decided to take a break because I was getting really hungry. I looked into the refrigerator, but it need to be stocked. All that I had was buttered bread and leftover city chicken (cubed beef or veal, skewered, breaded and fried). I had no bologna, thinly sliced ham, no Polish sausage.
So I went to the store and got a cart. I bought a submarine sandwich, soda and a dozen of eggs in case I wanted eggs over easy in the morning. When I got back home, I headed out to sit by the creek to eat in peace and quiet. Just as I was about to take a bite from my sandwich, my nosy neighbor, Cheryl, appeared and asked how I have been. While we are talking, I saw a chipmunk and it started to nibble on my meal. I tried to chase him, but the grass was slippery and I fell into the thorn bushes. I’ve never been so frustrated.”
See? I do understand…because I am indeed just a still tahn gurl…although I would never, ever drink Ahn City Beer.
After my late night convo with my friend, I knew I had to find proof of the unparalleled delight that is Pittsburghese.
And now I miss the ‘Burgh and the way yinz all tahk.
Well, maybe not this. Yinz stay warm n’at!