Talk:Northeast Pennsylvania English

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Comment[edit]

any other locals want to help with this one?

Sure, I'll add a couple of words and phrases I know.

How about: "Corpse House" for funeral parlor

The ubiquitous culm banks throughout the region are referred to as "column" dumps: the pronunciation of the "u" sound in the word as "al". (Culm is a waste product of shale and poor grade coal that was discarded when anthracite mining was in its heyday.)

I, personally, have never heard that. Then again, I try to avoid listening at great length to the folks with the heaviest Hayna usage... --Charron 00:09, 11 August 2005 (UTC)


Here's a couple two tree pronunciation and usage peculiarities: coupon = cue-pon; film = fillum (plural fillums, usually for processed pictures); green pepper = mango (not unique to NEPA, and there are whole websites dedicated to this one)

Where is it the thickest?[edit]

From talking to people (I'm from Philly but I go to King's College), it seems like the thickest Hayna accent comes from people out of Nanticoke.

I would say the Greater Pittston Area. You would definately hear hayna from Wyoming Area and Pittston Area alumni. Coulda went... moun'n (mountain)... Scran'n (Scranton)... Nanny cote (Nanticoke)...

No original research, please[edit]

I would like to remind the contributors to this page of Wikipedia's no original research policy. Any information you supply must be backed up with published sources, which should be cited. Writing an article based on your own observation of your own speech or that of other people you know is original research, and cannot be accepted at Wikipedia. --Angr/tɔk tə mi 14:17, 29 September 2005 (UTC)


While I agree in principle with the "no original research policy," I disagree with it in a case like this. Formal publication does not necessarily reflect the informal speech patterns we are trying to define in this article. I highly doubt the Scranton Times, Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader or the Citizens Voice would publish an article written in Hayna Valley English. Truth be told, as an editor for a paper in a neighboring region (who also happens to be a stickler for attribution), I would go off if one of our reporters used the word "hain't" in a story. However, I frequently come into contact with people from the Scanton-Wilkes-Barre area and they often use that word. I expect one would have to look long and hard to find a published source for some of the terms commonly used in the vernacular in Northeastern Pennsylvania. ("Hain't" is a bad example, however. I just found it in the Urban Dictionary, though there was no reference to the region.) I, for one, would favor relaxing the "no original research" policy in this case. Those who are familiar with Hayna Valley English will know when someone contributes a load of crap and edit accordingly. Is that not the point of Wikipedia? --Kayfabewarrior

I don't expect to find materials written in Hayna Valley English. What I do expect of any article concerning a dialect of English is citation of published sociolinguistic research. If the English of northeastern Penna. is significantly different from that of southeastern and central Penna. and from the adjoining parts of Upstate New York, then it should be possible to find published research discussing what these differences are. There is tons of research on the regional accents of American English, and a lot of it is coming out of UPenn, which isn't that far away. If people have written about this dialect, then it's just a matter of finding the publications, reading them, and summarizing them here. If no one has written about it, then someone who's interested should go to graduate school, specialize in sociolinguistics, and write a dissertation about Hayna Valley English. That could then be cited as a source for this article. But WP:NOR and WP:CITE are Wikipedia policy and apply to all articles, including this one. --Angr (t·c) 10:08, 30 December 2005 (UTC)

Okay, I found some published sources. They're not specifically about this region, they're about American English in general, but they include some information about how English is spoken (mostly in terms of pronunciation) in northeastern Pennsylvania. --Angr (t·c) 07:17, 2 January 2006 (UTC)

I can't even begin to articulate how strongly I disagree with the policy in this case. Especially in the case of slang terms. You will invariably find little to no solid documentation on slang terminology and strongly suggest that outsiders keep their paws off the slang section and *LEAVE IT TO PEOPLE WHO ACTUALLY LIVE HERE*. ||bass 04:05, 27 June 2007 (UTC)

Sorry about that, but if there is no solid documentation, it has to be left out. At the bottom of every edit window it says, "Encyclopedic content must be verifiable", and that includes this. —Angr 05:52, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
We may as well wipe most to all content pertaining to slang language in that case. It isn't always doing to be documented academically. Blind and mindless adherence to a policy by people who don't live in the region in question HURTS far more than it helps. The article would be better served if people who actually live in NEPA were doing the article edits and not some foreign ivory tower academic. ||bass 15:45, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
Actually, there's plenty of documentation of slang in general, and on slang of specific regions too. Books and scholarly articles on slang are quite common. And calling me "foreign" just because I grew up in Texas instead of Penna seems pretty harsh. —Angr 17:22, 27 June 2007 (UTC)

I'll keep on the lookout for published sources as well. Though I don't have fulltext access, I've found the following citations that might be useful to someone who has access to these academic journals:

1. Cities speak a lingo of their own. Times Higher Education Supplement; 02/20/98 Issue 1320, p9, 1/3p, 1bw Abstract: Focuses on the creation of dialects within North American cities. Difficulty of travelers to understand words spoken by city residents; Views of William Labov, professor of linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania; How the languages are developed. ISSN: 0049-3929 Database: Academic Search Elite

2. Title: A NATIONAL SURVEY OF NORTH AMERICAN DIALECTS. Authors: Ash, Sharon1 Source: American Speech; 2003 Supplement Issue 88, p57-73, 17p, 1 map Abstract: This article focuses on the Atlas of North American English: Phonetics, Phonology, and Sound Change. The Linguistic Atlas of the U.S. and Canada had been conceived in 1929 and had produced numerous substantial reports on the phonetics and phonology of American English, but there had been no national survey. Furthermore, the fieldwork of the Linguistic Atlas projects had been conducted over a period of time long enough that no one sample of American dialects could be claimed. The goal of ANAE was to sample the entire population of North American urban speakers of English within a short time, so as to obtain a snapshot of all of North American English. Over the years, the interview schedule was revised, and variants were developed to target the variables of interest in different regions: the Midwest, the Northeast, the East, the South, the West, and Canada. Recording techniques were updated to digital tape recorders rather than open-reel. About 850 speakers were recorded in all, and acoustic analysis of the vowel systems was carried out for 439 speakers. The last speaker was interviewed in November 2001, less than a decade after the first interview. For the pilot project, the sample was stratified by population of the town, from those of more than a million down to those of 2,000 to 10,000. As the project expanded, however, the target was limited to urban dialects: those places defined by the Census Bureau as Urbanized Areas, with a population over 50,000. ISSN: 0003-1283 Database: Academic Search Elite

I'm a bit bothered by this "original research policy" in this type of circumstance as well. I'm currently in the process of interviewing local residents about their language habits; I am conducting this research with the ultimate intent of eventually writing a book about the culture of the Wyoming Valley. So, my contributions have indeed been based on original research, it's true -- but I think they are worthy enough in this remarkably under-studied context. --Rumball107 03:29, 30 January 2006 (UTC)

The data that I added are mostly based on the ANAE. If you're doing your own fieldwork now with the aim of writing a book, I'd say the best path is to wait until the book is published and then cite it here as a source for the information you're adding. I know it can be frustrating not to be able to add things you know to be true, but Wikipedia:Verifiability is policy, and it's good policy. At the moment, no one else has access to your field notes, meaning they can't double-check that what is being added is consistent with them. It's in your own interest too to wait until the book is published: doing sociolinguistic fieldwork and analyzing the data is a long, laborious process, and you deserve the right to have it published under your real name and copyrighted. If you post it here, it can be copied and pasted into other GFDL-compatible sites, and while technically that means it has to be traceable back to you, sometimes people aren't particularly careful about that. --Angr 07:36, 30 January 2006 (UTC)

Lackawanna County[edit]

I live in Lackawanna County and I dont hear "hayna" very often or "car needs wash". Dudtz 9:35 PM EST

Suggestion[edit]

The term "Hayna Valley English" is applicable but I would caution that it may not be the proper word for the dialect. There have been studies done into the dialect of the Wyoming Valley by both the regional universties and universties abroad. If at all possible these resources should be consulted. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by 24.193.238.28 (talkcontribs) 02:20, 7 February 2006 (UTC)

I wondered about the appropriateness of the title myself, but I left it because it did seem to be used on other web sites, and because I don't know of any better name. "Wyoming Valley English" perhaps? Is there a name that the scholarly research has agreed upon? Angr/talk 06:01, 7 February 2006 (UTC)

Article Needs Work[edit]

I disagree with the term "Hayna Valley English". There is no such thing as the "Hayna Valley" and you will not find a specific reference to it anywhere other than here. There are certain phrases that may have been somewhat popular many years ago, however those phrases aren't commonly used anymore. "Hayna Valley English" is usually associated with comic lists or parodies that identify these phrases.

As for the pronunciation of certain words, the references are correct but the information is out of date. In the 20 years I've lived in the Wyoming Valley, I have never heard anyone pronounce "Dawn/Don" or "caught/cot" differently, and have never heard anyone say "hayna" unless they were specifically saying it to be humorous. I have reinstated the "Original Research" banner since any phrases listed as being "Hayna Valley English" cannot be verified. If studies have been done by universities, then they should be cited. The only references that can be cided (though sometimes incorrectly) are those related to pronunciations, which aren't really "Hayna Valley English" but rather "Northeast Pennsylvania Accents" or something similar.

I grew up in the Wyoming Valley and spent nearly 10 years away living in places like Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Houston, and New York, and while there are certain phrases or pronunciations that are unique to the Wyoming Valley, in general there isn't much of an accent in Northeast PA. Natives of 'da valley' can practically go anywhere else in the country and no one will be able to tell where they're from based on their accent (just don't order a Lager at a bar, and don't drive fast because the Staties (State Troopers) are everywhere). The accent in Northeast Pennsylvania isn't very distinguishable like that from the Midwest, the South, or (gasp) New England. (The closer regions can tell. When I was in Hershey a lady asked if I was from the coal country. She said I had that accent. Similar experience in Wiliamsport.)


I've undone your changes because you put your own observations (original research) ahead of the published works. The ANAE is not out of date, it was based on fieldwork done in the 1990s. However, I certainly have no objection to getting rid of the silly name "Hayna Valley English", and giving the article a more serious name like Northeast Pennsylvania English. Angr/talk 09:12, 1 March 2006 (UTC)


I see your point. How do we go about making the appropriate changes? I think "Wyoming Valley English" would certainly be a more serious name, or it might even be better to call it "Northeast Pennsylvania English" since it's really not just limited to the Wyoming Valley. Should we create the new article, or is there a specific process to move or rename an existing article?

I feel a new article should primarily focus on the verifiable (though *possibly* outdated references) pronunciation of words or accents heard in the Wyoming Valley, though it's probably worth mentioning the list of phrases that are associated with Northeast PA. I guess the references that I believe to be incorrect will have to stay until someone makes the effort to find more appropriate reference material. While I don't particularly like this article in it's current form, I'm not exactly losing sleep over it (and it could be worse). There are other things on Wikipedia that need more attention. Lowrydr310 16:39, 2 March 2006 (UTC)

Okay, I've moved it to "Northeast Pennsylvania English". I did a lot of research in those books you consider "outdated" and am rather proud of the information I added on that basis. I freely admit PEAS is out of date, but in the article I've either pointed out that the info is based on fieldwork from the 1930s, or else I've backed up info from PEAS with info from ANAE, which isn't out of date. However, there is also definitely a lot of stuff (mostly the lexical stuff, with the exception of "positive anymore") here that isn't backed up with sources, and so it should needs to be sourced or else deleted. Angr/talk 16:58, 2 March 2006 (UTC)

Removed paragraph[edit]

I removed this paragraph:

It should be noted the research done on this article is more than 70 years old. English was a second language for many of the immigrants. The existence of ethnic communities within the area lessened the need to learn the correct use of the language. While much of what follows was true as recently as 30 years ago, the use of the vast majority of the words, phrases and corruptions, noted herein, has long since disappeared. Or they are confined to use by the eldest and least educated. More often than not, one will hear them used jokingly. Not out of disrespect, but as a brave acknowledgement of the ignorance they’ve overcome.

partly because it's POV, and partly because the information objected to (i.e. the parts that were re-written in the past tense in this edit) were not based on any research at all, but were rather the original research portion of the article that needs sourcing anyway. Angr/talk 15:46, 9 March 2006 (UTC)

Speed?[edit]

A teacher I once had told me that people from Northeast PA are known to talk faster. I don't know if this is mentioned in the article, but it does seem true. Perhaps a mention of this? M2K E 21:31, 9 August 2006 (UTC)

Sure, if you can find a reliable source to cite. User:Angr 05:31, 10 August 2006 (UTC)
Having lived in the area for nearly ten years now I can honestly say I've never noticed this. And not being born in Northeast PA a difference in speed of speech of any significance would have been noticeable. As stated above, a reliable source should be found before it's added to the article. Fazul 19:29, 10 August 2006 (UTC)


I lived in the Wyoming Valley from 1973-75, and again 1987-1998; Wilkes-Barre, Kingston, Forty-Fort, Avoca, et. al. Currently I live in the Philly metro area, where I have met a few displaced 'haynas'. That is my point; 'hayna' is not dead. It lives on, to the delight of socio-linguist from all strata of life. Hayna, or no?

Good work so far, perhaps add these in[edit]

I live and work around Scranton, so I'm getting a kick out of this page. So far, it's right on the money. So, how about these: pank and tamp - local words for "to pat down," such as to tamp down some fresh asphault/dirt/sand/etc. Tamp is the more common one, pank on the other hand could be spelled panck. I'm not sure on the spelling there. Up the Eynon - pronounced pretty close to "Ahp de Eye-nin" or "Eye-nun." Another local may be better at describing this method of travel on Route 6 between Scranton and Carbondale. Da U - slang for the University of Scranton, but I get the feeling that other places may call their own local universities the same thing. There's a couple two tree ideas for you. Oh, and that someone may ask for two hot dogs and request, "One with ketchup, one with not." I'm posting these ideas here because, well, I've never posted on Wikipedia before. One last thought: a small river is called a "crick" as opposed to a creek/creak/some proper word not used here --71.57.243.203 04:41, 23 April 2007 (UTC)

I've heard 'crick' before, and the 'one with not' thing. Doppelganger 23:42, 23 April 2007 (UTC)

Challenge to the "dog needs walked" claim.[edit]

I've come across this way of forming sentences without the infinitive, i.e., "My hair needs washed" rather than "my hair needs to be washed." If this is an element of Northeastern Pa. English, it's a fairly new one. When I first moved out of Wilkes-Barre in 1984, I attended college in Carlisle, Pa., and found that people used that phrasing. It was the first time I'd ever heard it and it was alien and comical to me. It seems to also be used in Western Pa., but I never heard it in the northeast.

-- same here. I grew up in Wilkes-Barre and was taught to properly us infinitives. I can't remember hearing this once until I moved to the Pittsburgh area and almost immediately noticed people dropping infinitives all over the place. It immediately stuck out to me as sounding wrong, and still does. Agreed that it seems to be a characteristic of the southeastern Pa./West Va. dialect, but definitely not NEPA. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 75.97.155.128 (talk) 05:35, 26 January 2013 (UTC)

Removing unsourced statements[edit]

I'm removing the following statements that have been tagged as unsourced since February:

  • Because of the large influx of Polish and other Slavic immigrants in the early 1900s, many Northeast Pennsylvania speakers replace /θ, ð/ with /t, d/.} For example, the word cathedral would be pronounced [kəˈtidrəl], three becomes /tri/, without becomes /wɪdˈaʊt/, etc.
  • Older varieties of Wyoming Valley English, especially as spoken by immigrants who were not native speakers, had many other differences from standard American English:
    • The name of the letter H might be haitch, not aitch, as in some other dialects of English such as Hiberno-English and Indian English
    • When referring to a small group of objects, the phrase "A couple, two three" might have been used. Due to what was the common changing of "th" sounds to a "t" sound and the relative speed at which the phrase is said, the resulting phrase is "A couple two tree". Example: This project won't take very long; just a couple two tree days.
    • The plural of you is yous, pronounced /juz/ or reduced to /jəz/ (the latter spelled yez in eye dialect), as in "How are yous?" or "I'll see yez later."
    • The word up has been used as a preposition first thought to mean "up to" or just "to". For example, Wyoming Valley Natives often say "I'm going up the mall." In fact, it's a hold-over from "up-town", meaning the Public Square shopping district in central Wilkes Barre. This was logically carried over to " up the mall" because it was first situated on higher ground, east of the most populated area. Generally "up" meant areas north and/or east of the city's Public Square, "down", was south, and "over" referred to crossing the river separating the east side, (Wilkes Barre) from the west side’s many smaller communities.
    • The past tense of the verb beat is bet, as in "I bet up some guys last night, a couple two tree."
    • The word "disere," a contraction for "this here," was commonly used as a demonstrative pronoun, as in "If we go to the movies, we can see disere."
  • The word Hayna is one of the dialect's most distinctive words. Also encountered as heyna, hainna, heynit, henna, enna, or eyna it is a grammatical particle meaning "Isn't it so?", likely formed by combining the phrase "Ain't it?" Often when used, the word hayna was coupled with "or no", creating the phrase "Hayna or no?", which is a request for confirmation from the listener. The word Hayna was more likely to be heard in the 1950s and 1960s but has virtually disappeared and is commonly ridiculed by many present-day area residents. Despite the decrease in usage of Hayna, the Wyoming Valley along with most of Northeast Pennsylvania had a plethora of unique phrases, some of which are still used, and may seem strange to some visitors.

If sources can be found to support any of these statement, feel free to re-add them, citing the sources. —Angr 17:57, 25 July 2007 (UTC)

i found a source for "couple two tree" -- can someone add it? here it is: http://www.thetimes-tribune.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=18966075&BRD=2185&PAG=461&dept_id=415898&rfi=6 —Preceding unsigned comment added by 128.175.109.175 (talk) 00:26, 30 October 2007 (UTC)

More work[edit]

this article really needs work. to my knowledge, it used to contain a lot more accurate information. as far as angr suggesting that we need to go to school, study it, write a paper on it, and then reference the paper just for a wiki page is a little much. there must be something we can do, as members of the region, to find accurate information regarding the distinct dialect. for example, wheres two-tree hoddogs or up the eynon. or hayna for that matter. all im saying is, this article needs work and i think it's going in the wrong direction... 75.75.191.152 (talk) 03:32, 24 March 2008 (UTC)

Good source[edit]

http://www.evolpub.com/Americandialects/PennaDialMap.html This may be a little help for you. Feel free to edit it in the article badly in need for more information. It does provide some solid info that the dropping of th to t/d because of the Slavic immigrants. Also, a confirmation that cot/caught is fully merged due to independent development. A local from the Valley.Pieuvre (talk) 18:44, 15 August 2008 (UTC)