I never ever thought I’d hear anyone say “Sapir-Whorf hypothesis” in a movie, but I heard it in Arrival! Ok, it was a science fiction film. See trailer here. Linguistics professor Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is asked to help the United States communicate with aliens, and she’s the one who talks about the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis.
I liked the movie, but something inside me made me wonder how it would have been different if Professor Banks had been fluent in Pittsburghese. See yinz.
Investigators from portfoliolongo.com have uncovered a clandestine, sociolinguistic fracking operation in an undisclosed town in Western Pennsylvania. According to an on-site project manager who asked not to be identified, “These new mining techniques have allowed us to approach the yinz phenomenon from the bottom up!” Our informant admitted that this type of research cannot be conducted without undesirable consequences, however, “you’d have to be a total jaggoff not to recognize that the means justify the end here. There’s big money in yinz nowadays!” The so-called yinz phenomenon is the local practice, based on Germanic influences, of adding both an /ęn/ and an /ës/ or /êz/ sound to the end of the 3rd-person-singular, nominative and objective case pronoun, you for purposes of pluralization, not unlike y’all in the South. Examples include: “Are yinz goin’ to Kennywood Park?” “Did some’a-yinz eat or all’a’yinz?” “Is that yinz’s car?” Acceptance has been growing in recent years, and consequently the market value of yinz has skyrocketed. Researchers have identified and, in some cases, tapped into abundant reserves of deep structure yinz (DSY) andstructurally-related variations, like DSY-2 or yunz-2 and DSY-3 or yenz-3. “It’s not such a big deal?” opined the project manager, “Everybody knows you make child plural by sayin’, children, there’s your plural. These folks simply add an /s/ on top of that for good measure, like icing on the cake! There’s your yinz, and hey, we’re finally tapping into that.”