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by Kenzie
Rated: E · Article · Regional · #1171032
Please? Do What? Eh? People surely do have strange ways of saying things.
Please? Oh, Pah-leeeeeeze!
by Marilyn Mackenzie

Here in Cincinnati, it is common to hear people say, “Please?” instead of, “Huh?” or “Excuse me?” or “Pardon me?” or “What did you say?” Please? It drives me nuts!

Now don’t get me wrong. My mother taught me (and all of my friends) to use please and thank you’s at the appropriate times. We just didn’t ask, “Please?” when we meant, “Pardon me?”

In Cincinnati, they don’t have a lot of colloquialisms. The only other oddity I’ve discovered is that people who don’t frequent the downtown area very often can be seen muttering in their cars, “Big Strong Men Will Very Rarely Eat Pork Chops.” This is the native's way of remembering the order of downtown's north-south streets, starting on the eastern end: Broadway, Sycamore, Main, Walnut, Vine, Race, Elm, Plum and Central. Vine divides all downtown addresses into east and west.

As a kid growing up in Pittsburgh, where local colloquialisms abound, I could not use the word, “younze” or “yinz”. My mother made sure that one word never left my mouth (or the mouth of friends either). I suppose she didn't realize that the way we ended our sentences made them all seem like questions and not statements. And she didn’t seem to worry about some of the other words and phrases we used.

Babushka (a scarf worn on the head)
Bitzle (a piece of dirt left on the floor)
Blinkers (turn signals)
Bumbershoot (umbrella)
Burm (side of the road, shoulder)
Caach (couch or sofa)
Caddy wampus (askew)
Canipshun (a fit, as in to have a fit or get upset)
Chipped Chopped Ham (very thinly sliced ham for “sammiches”)
Clicker (remote control)
Clodhoppers (work boots)
Cripe (swear word)
Cubbord (cupboard, also used in place of closet)
Cucky (gooey, yucky substance)
Davenport (couch or sofa)
Dinge (dent, as in the side of a car)
Doohickey (something whose name you can’t remember)
Druthers (choice, as in “I have my druthers.”)
Dupa (your back side)
Galumbki or Galumpki (stuffed cabbage)
Grasscutter (lawn mower)
Gum (elastic)
Gum bands (rubber bands to everyone else)
Hankerin (need or want: “I got a hankerin for a galumbki.”)
Heinz 57 (mutt dog)
Hizzy or Hitzy (fit, like canipshun)
Hoagie (big sammich)
Hoosafratz (a mechanical device for which you don’t know the real name)
Ice ball (snow cone)
Icebox (refrigerator – even young kids who had never seen iceboxes called them that)
Jaggerbush (any plant with thorns)
Jaggers (thorns)
Jimmies (sprinkles, as in decorations on top of cupcakes)
Jumbo (bologna)
Kennywood's Open! (your fly is unzipped)
Monongehela Highball (glass of tap water)
Nuyn-ah (disbelief, no sir, no way, nuyn-ah)
Nebby (nosey)
P'toot (lower part of one’s butt)
Pertineer (almost, must come from “pretty near”?)
Pittsburgh Toilet (a toilet in the middle of the basement without an enclosure or door)
Pop (soda pop)
Red Dog (crushed stone used on driveways)
Redd Up (clean up)
Relations (relatives)
Sammiches (sandwiches)
Sewer Lid (manhole cover)
Sliding Board (playground slide)
Slippy (slippery)
Snick Snack (late night snack)
Spicket (water tap or spigot)
Spilly Pile (slag hill)
Sputzee (small bird)
Stationary Tub (laundry tub)
Sticks (out in the country)
Stoop (front steps where there is no porch on the front of the house)
Swap (swig, as in, “Can I have a swap of that pop?”)
Sweeper (vacuum)
T-tahl (dish towel)
That's it, Fort Pitt (that’s all)
Tin foil (aluminum foil)
Worsh Rag (wash cloth)
Worshin Macheen (clothes washer)
Wrench Tubs (laundry tubs)
Yinzer (Pittsburgher who talks right)
Youdge (huge)
You guys (plural you, instead of younze or yinz)
Zapper (remote control)

I moved from Pittsburgh in 1978, and have only been back a few times to visit. To this day, though, I can tell when someone has lived in Pittsburgh or at least in Western Pennsylvania. When I lived there, we prided ourselves on not having accents. Perhaps not, but we did – and Pittsburghers still do – have a way of pronouncing words that was a bit distinct. As I analyze it now, it almost seems like a lazy way of speaking.

Pittsburghers say:
Annem (associate(s) of a named person, as in JimAnnem went to the store)
Arn (iron)
Ats (that is)
Bawdle (bottle)
Cammra (camera)
Crick (creek)
Dahntahn (downtown)
Dint (didn’t)
Fahr (fire)
Flahr (flower or flour)
Garbidge (garbage)
Graaj (garage)
Haf-Ahr (half an hour)
Haus (house)
Haus Kote (robe)
Hunnert (100)
Igl (eagle)
Innerductshun (introduction)
Jinz (Did you guys, as in Did you guys (or yinz) hear that?)
Keller (color)
Ketch (catch)
Kranz (crayons)
Maahntins (mountains)
Mahles (miles)
Mahs (mouse)
Meer (mirror)
Muncle (my uncle)
Mundy, Tuesdy, Wensdy, Thursdy, Frydy, Sadurdy, Sundy (days of the week)
Orrnj (orange)
Owl (aisle)
N'at (and so forth, used for emphasis: We went shopping n’at.)
Neckstore (next door)
Pahn (pound)
Pahr (power)
Peenabudder (peanut butter)
Pillas (pillows)
Pisgetti (spaghetti)
Pitcher (picture)
Pixberg Stillers (the greatest football team!)
Pome (poem)
Pow (pile)
Prolly (probably)
ProNOUNseeashun (pronunciation)
Punkin (pumpkin)
Radio Tower (radial tire)
Raht (route)
Rolly Coaster (roller coaster)
Ruff (roof)
Sgetti or sketti (spaghetti)
Shahr (shower)
Seeinzat (because, or “seeing as that”?)
Shore (sure)
Sore (sewer)
Sumpin (something)
Tahl (towel)
Tahr (tire)
Tahrs (towers)
Tayduh (potato)
Tellypole (telephone pole)
Tuhmaytuhs (tomatoes)
Twunny (twenty)
Unce (ounce)
Wahr (wire)
We Unz (opposite of yinz)
Windas (windows)
Witchew (what are you…”Wichew gonna do?”)
Wow (while)
Yaint (you ain’t)
Zackly (exactly)

Whew. Going reading through those makes me wonder how we ever learned to read and write properly.

From Pittsburgh, I first moved to Michigan – Jackson, Michigan to be exact. There, I was placed in a job where I had to answer the phone for Don Buckley. I think I was placed in that position just so everyone in the company could laugh at me. My co-workers insisted that there was a definite difference in how normal people pronounced “Don” and “Dawn” and that I said them both the same. I guess that explained why, after I started answering his phone, my boss often got mail addressed to Ms. Dawn Buckley.

Next, life took me to Houston, Texas. Although Houston was – and is – a real melting pot, the natives had their way of speaking. They spoke with that Southern drawl mixed with a Texas twang and (although they would not admit it) some Tex-Mex words and phrases mixed in as well. They also said, “Do what?” and “Beggar Pardon?” and “Come again?” in place of “Pardon me?” or “Excuse me?” or “What did you say?”

My next residences were in Florida – first on the Gulf Coast, then in Central Florida. Again, there was a melting pot and quite a mixture of accents and word phrases. People came from all over the U.S. to retire there, so someone with a Southern drawl might have lived next to someone who spoke Pittsburghese. Of course there were also folks from Canada who said, “Eh?” instead of “What? Some of those Canadians said, "Eh?" at the end of each sentence, as if they were asking for agreement with each comment they made.

Life took me back to Michigan for a while – this time to Midland. No one laughed at my pronunciations the second time I lived in Michigan. Perhaps having lived in various places meant that I had learned to enunciate more clearly.

And that brings us back to today. The television has kept me company as I wrote, and in the background I just heard a political commercial. In it, locals were interviewed and one after another they said, “Please?”

Oh please!
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