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Yunz n'at

May 9, 2016
Posted at 12:35 pm

My story, One Thousand Apologies, is set in the hills of western Pa (that's pronounced Pee-ay) near Pittsbugh.

I got an anonymous comment this morning (hey, I reply to everyone who leaves a real address!) asking about the word 'yunz.'

Most of my characters speak Pittsburghese to one extent or another. As a writer, I don't go full yinzer on all a'yunz, as that would be too hard to read. Hell, when folks try to phoneticize the way we say stuff it hardly looks like anything I know. Instead I stick to a few key words and phrases to remind the readers.

Personally, I use several words and phrases in every conversation but avoid bad grammar. My wife uses a more standard vocabulary but all the yinzer grammar "Me and her went to the store" and double (and triple) negatives. The mixtures allow me to give some different voices to characters, and I'll frequently tie to to education level.

Yunz is the plural form of you. They call folks from Pittsburgh yinzers, but most of them say 'yunz.' There's not accepted spelling as the pronunciation can vary slightly depending on where you're at, and really, it's never written down except as dialogue. We'd see 'you' on a page and still say 'yunz' if it's plural.

Another word is n'at The dictionary says 'and that' but it could also mean something like 'and what not.' It's thrown in at the end of a prhase or sentence to indicate an indefinite ending. "I'm going down to Sheetz to grab some beer n'at." means the purpose of the trip is to get some beer, but while he's there he may very well get other things. Using n'at leaves open that possibility.

Here's a short explanation of the dialect and I use this page to help me remember words and phrases, but as I mentioned, I don't go overboard, sticking with the more iconic ones.