A politician for yinz

By Joe Diorio

John Fetterman is running for the U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania. Just recently he sent out a campaign email containing the line, “sending yinz a quick note.”

“Yinz,” as the six-foot-nine-inch Fetterman used it, is a piece of slang unique to parts of rural Pennsylvania. (Fetterman is from Springettsbury, a tiny town northeast of Hanover.) The Urban Dictionary says it is the Pittsburgh equivalent to “y’all” used to address two or more persons.

Interestingly, “yinz” is not recognized by either Merriam-Webster or the Oxford dictionaries, whereas “y’all” is identified as a variant of “you all.”

Well, considering how big a guy Fetterman is, I’m not telling him he cannot use a word that is not found in the dictionary.

Farewell Roger Angell

The book I have owned the longest is a 1972 paperback (with a $1.50 price tag on it, proving I have owned it for a while) copy of The Summer Game, Roger Angell’s first collection of his New Yorker columns about baseball. Angell, who died May 20 at the age of 101, was a master writer and storyteller. He just happened to ply his craft writing about a game.

His superior use of words is unforgettable. Writing about the Boston Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk coming out of a crouched position, Mr. Angell wrote how Fisk looked like “an aluminum extension ladder stretching for the house eaves.” The Baltimore Oriole relief pitcher Dick Hall pitched “with an awkward, sidewise motion that suggests a man feeling under his bed for a lost collar stud.” Writing about the 1969 New York Mets he penned, “Instead of resembling a real ball team, the new Mets reminded me most of a Hollywood cast assembled to play in another unlikely baseball movie.”

Baseball fans would say Baseball Hall of Fame member Reggie Jackson could hit. Jackson would say this about Angell: “Roger Angell can write.” Indeed, he could.

Have you learned that yet?

Recently someone asked via Twitter, “If I said, ‘that’ll learn you,’ do you know what I mean? The Urban Dictionary defines this as Southern slang. Most of the responders agree.

“It’s a double yes for me. I understand what the character is saying, and I have an idea where the character is from.”

“I was raised by Southern parents. I absolutely know what this means.”

“I have heard it in the Southwest, but mostly as a teasing remark.”

Let me know if you have heard the phrase and your thoughts on its origin and appropriate usage.

Local TV. Need I say more?

A Fort Myers, Florida television reporter was reporting a story about training for first responders and said the type of training being undertaken is “tantamount.” Not tantamount to something. Just tantamount.

Tantamount is an adjective, meaning the same as. It would modify a noun. But there was no noun in the reporter’s sentence to modify. 

The way the reporter framed the word makes one think the word they meant to use is “paramount,” as in the training is more important than anything else.

Yes, watching local TV can sometimes makes me crazy. But then the same news program, in the very next story, mentioned that a group of stingrays is called a “fever.” Good recovery guys.

I am a museum piece

Read this. You’ll write better.” That’s the title of a talk I am scheduled to deliver at The National Museum of Language on Saturday, August 13, 2022, at 2 p.m. (ET). It’s all being done via Zoom so please join me. I hate feeling like I am talking to myself.

Joe Diorio is a writer living in Fort Myers, Florida. His first book, A Few Words About Words, is available now.

2 thoughts on “A politician for yinz

  1. Hi Joe,

    Loved the reminder of Pittsburgh-ese, I lived in that wonderful city for several years in the ’80s and heard quite a bit of “yinz.” Yes, it’s a real thing.

    Another thing Pittsburghers do is omit “to be” in a sentence. The car needs washed. The cat needs brushed. This used to drive my husband crazy. He said if Shakespeare lived in Pittsburgh, his most famous line would be, “Or not.”

    Hope all is well, and thank you for keeping me amused and informed!



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