I finally got around to listening to the latest Grammar Girl podcast (available to read or listen to here) and as soon as I saw the name of the episode (“Needs Washed”) I knew it would be about Pittsburghese (sometimes called Yinzer). Well, really it’s about regional dialects, but it focuses on Pittsburghese. I enjoyed the trip down memory lane that came from hearing GG discuss the bizarre words and constructions that amused and/or annoyed me when I was in college. Unfortunately, it was clear that she didn’t get a Pittsburghese speaker to write the pronunciations phonetically. After all, everyone knows that “needs washed” would be pronounced “needs worshed.”
I will admit to yelling at my computer when she apparently decided that all Pennsylvanians speak Pittsburghese (about halfway through the podcast). I hate to break it to you, GG, but I moved to (southeastern) PA when I was 5 and the first time I ever heard “needs washed” was when I moved to western PA at 18. This is not to say that Philly doesn’t have its own linguistic quirks (“going down the shore” being a particular favorite of mine), but the verb “to be” generally shows up where it should.