View Full Version : This needs considered a regionalism?
12-07-2000, 02:27 PM
The "Pittsburghese" discussion in the "iron" thread reminded me of something. There's a particular construct I will sometimes catch myself using, namely the dropping of "to be" out of sentences, particularly with the verb "needs". Example:
The car needs washed.
The car needs to be washed.
Often used in conjunction with replacing "needs" with "wants":
That house wants painted.
On occasion, I've heard that this is specifically a Western PA regionalism. Somebody said it "screams Pittsburgh" every time they hear it. I'm not actually from Pittsburgh, but rural Western PA, and Pittsburgh is the large city associated with the region. Does anybody know if this usage is really that specific?
12-07-2000, 02:32 PM
Well I have lived in Northern Indiana, the Boston Area, and Northern and Southern California, and spent considerable time in Kentucky, Michigan, and Northern Ohio.
I also lived in Meadville, PA for a while. I've never heard that construction anywhere but there.
12-07-2000, 02:35 PM
I often heard that construction in Central Ohio, but I don't remember hearing it in Northeast Ohio where I grew up. Since you report it from Pittsburgh as well, I'd be inclined to call it an Appalachianism, but my father, who is from darkest West Virginia, never uses that construction.
The two dialect influences in Central Ohio are Appalachian and Midwestern. Since I don't think it's an Appalachianism, and there is little Midwestern dialect as far east as Penna., it must be one of those regional oddities -- kind of like the very small area in Northeast Ohio where people say "melk" instead of "milk".
12-07-2000, 02:39 PM
I think you’ll find that it’s a colloquialism common to the Pennsylvania Dutch (who obviously settled, to some extent, in Ohio, Maryland, and West Virginia). Perhaps its roots are in Germanic sentence construction. Of course, it has become common in the non-Amish / Mennonite communities, and the more isolated and rural—the more prevalent.
I’m from Lancaster County originally, and grew up listening to that and other colloquialisms, and had always heard them attributed to “Dutch-speak” in elementary school.
12-07-2000, 02:51 PM
I don't really personally think of it as "Pittsburgh", but somebody else did say it "screamed Pittsburgh". I think the speaker was from Philly, and may have tended to think of everything in Western half of the state as "Pittsburgh". Meadville is pretty close to where I'm from. Interesting.
12-07-2000, 03:01 PM
I, too, am from Lancaster Co., PA (Elizabethtown) and I would say that this is a common usage among my mostly Mennonite family. So I think the idea that it is a Dutchy phrase may be on target.
12-07-2000, 03:24 PM
I remember a guy I knew from Pittsburgh who did that thing with "to be." Also, he didn't "wash" clothes or even "warsh" clothes -- he "wooshed" them.
05-29-2001, 07:29 PM
"This needs done."
Funny, this doesn't sound non-standard to me at all. And I'm from southwestern Missouri. Now that you mention it, most people do insert "to be" in there, but it seems like two unnecessary syllables.
The fact that my grandmother is from SW Ohio may have something to do with it. I think both she and my grandfather (who was born in Iowa and went to college in Cincinnati) use that kind of construction.
I picked up the "This wants done" kind of construction somewhere, too. But when I use that, people look at me funny.
Of course, people often look at me funny. Do I talk like I'm from Ohio and not even know it?
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