In case you are ever lost in the black swamp of central PA, it might be useful to know how to survive by manipulating your speech patterns to blend into the crowd. Some basic vocabulary:
  • farst - where all the trees are.
  • huh'in - to stand out in the farst with your gun and shoot animals.
  • tal - used to dry yourself off after a bath or shower.
  • ignert - lacking knowledge or the motivation to go after it.
  • meracle - when God makes wonderful things happen
  • nuculer - the power plant out at Saxton ran off of nuculer power.
  • crick - a small river or brook.
  • yer - can either be to show possession in the second person, or a length of time equal to 365 days.

It is relatively easy to convert words into central Pennsylvanian by lengthening the vowels into two syllables and thus distorting the sound: "i" becomes "aah", a long "a" becomes "a-ye" (try: "a-yer" for "air", "da-yer" for "dare") and "o" can change either to "a" (as in "tal") or to a longer "o" sound. It is also pertininet to make the "r" sound more guttural and to nearly eliminate the "t" in "nt" and the "g" in "ng" -- "huh'in" is a prime example. If you feel like you're drawling half the time and mumbling the other half, that's a good start.

Central Pennsylvanian also has a unique grammar structure in many instances.

  • If you are under the age of 30, add "like" after nearly every word in the sentence. And, like, if you get stuck, add it.. I dunno... like, like two or three times maybe?
  • The dog doesn't want to be let out. The dawg wants let out.
  • Do not refer to things as "that book", "that box", etc. Call them "that there chair/box/etc."
  • Don't sit down on that chair. Set down on that there chayer.
  • Do not place the book on top of the pile. Set that there book overtop of the pal.

Keep in mind that while these guidelines may help you blend in, the only true way to talk like a central Pennsylvanian is to live there for any period of time. It hits you fast -- I hadn't been here three weeks when my friends started complaining about my "accent".

Happy travelling!

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