The Corner

The Sounds of Western P-A, Cont.

In Impromptus today, I have a minor note on Rick Santorum: He “says ‘playing footsies’ when he means ‘footsie.’ At least it’s ‘footsie’ where I come from. Can’t vouch for western Pennsylvania.”

Well, a reader writes, “Jay, I grew up in southwest Pennsylvania, about ten minutes from the West Virginia border. Ever since I moved away, I have been aware of people messing up the expression by saying ‘footsie’ instead of ‘footsies.’”

I’ll be damned — never knew. Interesting.

By the way, there were three Pennsylvanians on the stage last night — all but Mitt Romney. And Ron Paul’s speech, in particular, is redolent of — laced with — Pittsburgh (as I have remarked throughout the campaign season). A reader writes,

Dear Mr. Nordlinger,

I grew up in Western Pennsylvania — and the “W” should be capitalized; it is a world like no other — although I now live in the Northern Tier of Pennsylvania. I dearly miss the regional accent of home. I enjoy hearing the debates just to let Ron Paul’s accent wash over me. He is clearly more southern and urban in his inflection than my native village, but he sounds like my uncles from the City and the lower Ohio Valley, and like a particular time as well.

The really old folks of my childhood — people born between 1880 and 1910 and confined to the rural district I grew up in — sounded very different from the city people in the family, and somewhat different from the next generation of rural folks, say those born between 1910 and 1930. I think radio and talkies, along with the slang of the Thirties and Forties, had a lot to do with it. I wish I had recorded the voices of those farmers and miners I knew who had been born before the full onslaught of mass communication.

I just wish that Ron Paul would say you’uns, but he’d probably use the more urban yunz, but not the more modern Pittsburgh North Side yinz. Oh well, I could go on all day about the variants. . . .

Additionally, we do say “footsies.”

There you have it (again) — an authoritative voice.

P.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch is from Pittsburgh too, although he is thought by many, and understandably, to be the quintessential Utahn.


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