Editorial: Pittsburghers, yinz should be prahd

By The Pitt News Editorial Board

Have yinz heard? Pittsburghese has been voted the ugliest accent in America.

In the final round of a Gawker.com online tournament, Pittsburgh defeated Scranton, Pa., taking the title with 54 percent of the vote. Although this seems like an insult, Pittsburghers should take pride in their dialect.

Deriving from Scotch-Irish, German and central and eastern European immigrant influence, the ugliest accent actually equates to the country’s most distinctive one. We’re all familiar with at least some Pittsburghese: “Have yinz done the worsh yet?” “Do I hafta tie a gumband around it?” “Let’s go dahn-tahn and enjoy some pop and pierogies before heading to Primanti’s to watch the Stillers … n’at.”

All right, you get it. Pittsburghese is, in fact, a funny accent, and, sure, some say that yinz is an ugly word, but this is a shallow observation. Functionally speaking, Pittsburghers are more progressive than they realize. When using terms such as “yinz” in place of “you guys,” speakers are deploying a gender neutral term. To be clear, “you guys” is most often innocently used to refer to a plural you without any intent of sexism. It’s colloquial language, but a non-discriminatory word such as yinz avoids gender preference and provides language equality to its speakers.

This progressivism is certainly positive. However, progressing should not always mean conforming. Pittsburghers are fortunate to sustain a local identity. Central to this homegrown identity is their “ugly,” yet authentic dialect. Think about it: What other city boasts a YouTube sensation that reflects its roots? Pittsburgh Dad brings humble, good-natured Pittsburghers to life, with Pittsburghese as the broadcast’s official language.

In today’s ever-globalizing and changing world, individuals should be careful not to lose their heritage. Pittsburgh has certainly changed over the years. From “Hell with the Lid Off” and the “Steel City” to the “City of Champions,” Pittsburgh has transformed from a blue-collar capital to a white-collar hub, becoming a national leader in health care and education. Even still, Pittsburghers’ friendly and decent nature remains. Sustaining this local identity, including its language, is a testament to Pittsburgh’s enduring character — something of which yinz should be very prahd.