The Prompt – Do you identify as a ‘yinzer’ or ‘jagoff’ or some other Pittsburghese term altogether? How so? Is there anyone in your life that fits your perception of these terms?
In my mind, jagoff is an insult and yinzer is a posture.
I use both terms liberally, including variants like “a jag” and “yinz”
Jagoff can be a good-natured insult amongst friends or a genuine expression of disdain and disgust. Intent matters. Tone matters. Context matters. Check out Yajagoff.com for more information.
Example – a friend is horsing around instead of helping me accomplish a task. “Don’t be a jag, hand me those totebags.”
Cut me off in traffic? Run a redlight? Hurt an animal or kid? “Fucking jagoff ”
Yinzer, on the other hand, is a cross between white redneck MAGA-light culture and hipsters. It’s an affectation whether you lean in to your stereotypes or appropriate them.
Think of how some people drink Pabst Blue Ribbon by preference and others drink PBR ironically. That’s your yinzer, only drinking Iron City beer. Or Rolling Rock.
I use yinzer more with irritation and eye rolls to describe pretentious behavior than prototypical Pittsburghers.
Growing up in Pittsburgh in the 70s and 80s, I never heard the word yinzer. Ever. I heard plenty of folx using yinz in everyday vernacular.
I also heard the iterations of jagoff a lot. But it, like yinz, was not used in an exaggerated or intentional fashion, they were just part of our daily language. You didn’t hear that heavy, intentional emphasis or drawing out of the vowels like you hear now.
My friend, Ed Pinto, has an artistic alter ego known as Eddie the Jagoff. I think that’s a useful way to deconstruct the concept. And celebrate it as well. I posted a photo of Eddie the Jagoff with Phat Man Dee, two of the loveliest Pittsburghers that I know. Embrace your inner yinzer and jagoff, my friends.
I’m sure that I have both yinzer and jagoff characteristics. Perhaps this message from a neighbor captures that:
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