A Pennsylvanian?

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue Jul 26 20:35:47 UTC 2011

On Jul 26, 2011, at 3:43 PM, Wilson Gray wrote:

> On Tue, Jul 26, 2011 at 3:11 PM, Benjamin Barrett <gogaku at ix.netcom.com> wrote:
>> I think that's well known as Midwestern grammar. Things like "The clothes need washed."
> Which states do you include under the rubric, "Midwestern"? My home
> state of Missouri is sometimes included thereunder. However, I didn't
> become aware of this grammatical phenomenon till a friend, a native of
> Erie, PA, brought it to my attention, using as his example,
> "The car needs washed."
> My wife is a native of Wilkes-Barre, PA.
> But this is not meant as an assertion that the phenomenon exists
> nowhere else. I'm merely defending my perhaps-unwarranted leap to the
> conclusion that the writer quoted was probably also a native of
> Pennsylvania.
The needs (wants, likes) + past participle construction is a shibboleth for "Pittsburghese", but as both Wilson and Benjamin point out it's found more broadly, both within Pennsylvania (and West Virginia) and in adjacent parts of the Midwest (Ohio through Missouri, as Beth Lee Simon and Tom Murray (among others) have discussed in some detail in print.  Pennsylvania is a good bet, but only if the odds are in one's favor.


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