Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

You might be a Yinzer if ...

Bill Cowher once said: “I’m one of you. Yinz know what I mean?” Of course, using a word that’s meant to foster camaraderie with Pittsburghers. It worked on me.



Illustration by Patrick Neil

In 2007, Bill Cowher held a press conference to announce his retirement as head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers. As he stood in front of the media wearing one of his signature Bill Cosby-like, eyeball-shattering sweaters, he said something I’ll never forget: “I’m one of you. Yinz know what I mean?”

He wasn’t just saying he was one of us; he was saying it while using a word that’s meant to foster camaraderie with Pittsburghers. It worked on me.

I hated that he was leaving Pittsburgh. I prefer that my sports heroes stick around—atrocious sweaters and all. But with that one word, it felt OK. Yinz. He wasn’t going to forget his hometown of Pittsburgh. He wasn’t going to change or stand sobbing in a shower in North Carolina, trying desperately to scrub the ’Burgher off himself. He was and would remain one of us.

He didn’t. But that’s another column. The point is: Just by saying that one word, I bought what he was selling—so much that I purchased three Cosby sweaters in every shade of late-’80s chic.

Fast forward to summer 2010, and we find Ben Roethlisberger giving an interview to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, just a few months after his bad-boy shenanigans in Georgia resulted in an NFL-sanctioned, four-game suspension and a general loss of respect from many fans. In the midst of much hand-wringing over the possibility that Steelers fans would boo him at training camp (they didn’t), Ben said, “I’m a Yinzer. I don’t say it, but I am a Yinzer.”

I read the quote. I rubbed my eyes and read the quote again. I put the paper down thinking I was having an aneurysm. I wasn’t. There it was. Ben was calling himself a Yinzer.

The image of the quintessential Yinzer, as I personally define it, appeared in my mind’s eye, and it was a cheap-beer-drinking, jort-wearing, multiple-tooth-missing man sporting a lush mullet and a tattered Steelers jersey while being interviewed on the 5 o’clock news, saying things like “them there” or “we was” or “dahn ’ere” or “we was dahn ’ere with ’em ’ere.”

I compared this with the mental image of Ben—a wealthy man who travels with a posse, dates famous women and drives cars worth more than most Yinzers make in a year—and I laughed. Oh, how I laughed.

The only thing remotely Yinzerish about Ben was the unfortunate manner in which he chose to arrange the hairs atop his head during his apology press conference—the half mullet, half mohawk hairstyle that I refer to as the “mullethawkenberger.” It’s mine. I own it. Send me a dime for every time you’ve said it.

Reading the newspaper quote, I was incredulous because Ben seemed to think being a Yinzer is a good thing. It was as if he took a page out of Bill Cowher’s Book of Ways to Endear Yourself to Pittsburgh but just skimmed the pages instead of actually reading it.

Wondering if perhaps the rest of Pittsburgh holds a more positive view of the word “Yinzer,” I began an exhaustive investigation, conducting research using foolproof scientific methods to ensure a proper sample size and an acceptable margin of error: I Tweeted. Oh, I hit up my Facebook friends, too.

The responses were generally in support of my belief that “Yinzer” is a derogatory term: Only 12 percent of the respondents indicated that they feel it’s a positive descriptor, while 60 percent think it is negative.

Another substantial number, 28 percent, said it is contextual—that it depends on who is saying it and whom he or she is referring to. The respondents feel that if a Pittsburgher calls another Pittsburgher a Yinzer, it’s a sort of humorous barb; here’s one such example:

“Did you just belch the chorus of ‘Renegade,’ you Yinzer?” However, as I interpret this data, if an outsider calls a Pittsburgher a Yinzer, it’s an insult of the highest order, indicating a perception of entirely too little class and entirely too many Steelers tattoos.

Armed with my percentages and a feeling of vindication, I then got in touch with the most intellectual, smarty-pants entity in Pittsburgh that I could think of: the mayor’s office.

No, not really. Carnegie Mellon University, of course. I asked resident linguistics expert Barbara Johnstone what she thought, and she wrote, “I think your correspondents are right—that it depends on who is calling whom a Yinzer, whether it’s negative or positive. It’s like ‘redneck’ in that respect.”

Ah, so Ben was trying to pull a Bill Cowher (who said “Yinz”) but with the addition of two little letters (when reciting the word “Yinzer”). Ben pulled a Jeff Foxworthy, likely in an effort to put himself on the level of the everyman, hard-working Pittsburgher.

But I don’t call the everyman, hardworking Pittsburgher a Yinzer; I call him a ’Burgher. And if he’s sporting a mullethawkenberger, I don’t call him anything because it’s hard to speak when you’re laughing that hard.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit Module Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

For Three Days, Sesame Street Will be in Pittsburgh

Kids can join Big Bird, Elmo and more Muppets as Sesame Workshop plans three days of events during a stop in Pittsburgh in June.

Penguins’ Lament: ‘To an Extent We Beat Ourselves’

The answer to a self-inflicted postseason sweep must begin with getting the players and their coach back on the same page regarding what’s required for survival in the playoffs.

Picklesburgh to Double in Size for Its Fifth Year

Nation’s top speciality food festival to spill out onto Ft. Duquesne Boulevard.

A Look at The Latest Restaurant Openings in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh says hello to Alta Via, Leo. A Public House, a new Milk Shake Factory location and more.

Is Your Pittsburgh Street on This Year's Road Repaving List?

The City of Pittsburgh has announced its street paving plan for 2019. You’re one click away from finding out if your street or route to work is on the list.

Downtown Pittsburgh Remains a Classic Rock Haven

PM intern Amanda Myers recounts the radio-rock adventures that life as a Downtown student has made possible.

The 400-Word Review: Master Z: Ip Man Legacy

The latest chapter in the Hong Kong martial-arts franchise gets a Pittsburgh release.

The 400-Word Review: The Curse of La Llorona

The latest chapter in the Conjuring franchise concerns a sinister spirit from folklore.

Details Shine in Metallic Hip-Hop Wedding

A graffiti-decorated cake, a sequined jacket for the groom and a violinist playing hip-hop covers wowed guests at this Strip District wedding.

New Restaurants Coming to Smallman Galley and Federal Galley

Look for New Mexican cuisine, customizable chicken and more as half of the Pittsburgh Galley Group concepts change in the next few months.

Design Goes to the Dogs with BARKitecture

Featuring innovative indoor animal shelters designed by local architects and artists going up for auction, the event at PerLora raises money for Animal Friends.

The 400-Word Review: Hellboy

The cult comic character gets a reboot in this R-rated action flick.

5 Best Spots to Hang Out with Your Dog

For those who can’t stand the idea of leaving their dogs home alone on a beautiful day, these dog-friendly stores, restaurants and bars in the Pittsburgh area welcome humans and canines alike.

The 400-Word Review: The Silence

Netflix's new horror film has a plot unfortunately similar to a giant hit. Can it succeed in spite of that bit of bad luck?

Popular Fried Chicken and Beer Hall Landing in Pittsburgh

The Cincinnati-based restaurant has signed a lease for a 6,000-square-foot space Downtown.
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags


For Three Days, Sesame Street Will be in Pittsburgh

For Three Days, Sesame Street Will be in Pittsburgh

Kids can join Big Bird, Elmo and more Muppets as Sesame Workshop plans three days of events during a stop in Pittsburgh in June.

Comments

Picklesburgh to Double in Size for Its Fifth Year

Picklesburgh to Double in Size for Its Fifth Year

Nation’s top speciality food festival to spill out onto Ft. Duquesne Boulevard.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
A Look at The Latest Restaurant Openings in Pittsburgh

A Look at The Latest Restaurant Openings in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh says hello to Alta Via, Leo. A Public House, a new Milk Shake Factory location and more.

Comments

New Restaurants Coming to Smallman Galley and Federal Galley

New Restaurants Coming to Smallman Galley and Federal Galley

Look for New Mexican cuisine, customizable chicken and more as half of the Pittsburgh Galley Group concepts change in the next few months.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
5 Best Spots to Hang Out with Your Dog

5 Best Spots to Hang Out with Your Dog

For those who can’t stand the idea of leaving their dogs home alone on a beautiful day, these dog-friendly stores, restaurants and bars in the Pittsburgh area welcome humans and canines alike.

Comments

5 Races You (Yes, You) Can Run This Year

5 Races You (Yes, You) Can Run This Year

Even novice runners can work their way up to these fun and (mildly) challenging races.

Comments


Downtown Pittsburgh Remains a Classic Rock Haven

Downtown Pittsburgh Remains a Classic Rock Haven

PM intern Amanda Myers recounts the radio-rock adventures that life as a Downtown student has made possible.

Comments

Take Your Video-Game Habit Into the Real World at Rogue Laser Grounds

Take Your Video-Game Habit Into the Real World at Rogue Laser Grounds

The pop-up laser tag arena takes the mechanics of online video games into a undeniably cool setting.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Penguins’ Lament: ‘To an Extent We Beat Ourselves’

Penguins’ Lament: ‘To an Extent We Beat Ourselves’

The answer to a self-inflicted postseason sweep must begin with getting the players and their coach back on the same page regarding what’s required for survival in the playoffs.

Comments

Pens Don't Need to Overwhelm Islanders, Just Outlast Them

Pens Don't Need to Overwhelm Islanders, Just Outlast Them

Patience, persistence and taking what the game gives is critical in Round One.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
The 400-Word Review: Master Z: Ip Man Legacy

The 400-Word Review: Master Z: Ip Man Legacy

The latest chapter in the Hong Kong martial-arts franchise gets a Pittsburgh release.

Comments

The 400-Word Review: The Curse of La Llorona

The 400-Word Review: The Curse of La Llorona

The latest chapter in the Conjuring franchise concerns a sinister spirit from folklore.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Details Shine in Metallic Hip-Hop Wedding

Details Shine in Metallic Hip-Hop Wedding

A graffiti-decorated cake, a sequined jacket for the groom and a violinist playing hip-hop covers wowed guests at this Strip District wedding.

Comments

Matching Bridesmaids’ Dresses May Be a Thing of the Past

Matching Bridesmaids’ Dresses May Be a Thing of the Past

Brides choosing one (or several) different colors, but leaving the design up to the bridesmaids, help attendants feel comfortable within their own budget.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Design Goes to the Dogs with BARKitecture

Design Goes to the Dogs with BARKitecture

Featuring innovative indoor animal shelters designed by local architects and artists going up for auction, the event at PerLora raises money for Animal Friends.

Comments

Room2Grow Reveals Your Baby's Gender — With a Nursery

Room2Grow Reveals Your Baby's Gender — With a Nursery

After designing a room around their child’s gender reveal, Chris and Stacy Galiyas are shopping around a reality show where they do the same for other expectant parents.

Comments