The Unique Dialect in Hazleton, PA
Hazleton is a city located in the northeastern portion of Pennsylvania. It was once known for the abundance of anthracite coal throughout the region, and it became one of the most popular cities in America for the coal industry. An influx of immigrants primarily from Italy, Poland, Germany, Ireland, and Slovakia settled to work in the coal industry. These immigrants possessed a strong work ethic and sought to achieve a successful American life.
How Did the Coal Region’s Dialect Originate?
Hazleton’s dialect evolved from the combination of the Eastern European languages and the English language. Over the years, the citizens of Hazleton developed a unique regional dialect and language that is immediately recognizable to anyone who lives outside of the coal region. Most natives who grew up in the Hazleton area and never relocated for work, college, or the military aren’t even aware that they have an accent. In fact, it offends many people if they are ever called out on their unusual way of speaking.
What is a Coal Region Accent?
The coal region accent is most recognized when someone who is native to the area asks a question. If someone consistently uses rising intonation when asking a “yes” or “no” question and fails to enunciate the tail end of some words, that person is most likely a native of the coal region. In addition to the added stress on certain words when asking a question, there is an entire dictionary of words and phrases used by the coal region. A few of the popular words used by Hazleton residents are:
- “Scamutz” It’s a type of cheese called scamorza, which similar to mozzarella.
- “Pitza” Pizza made by Senape’s Bakery.
- “Crick” – It’s what the coal region calls a creek.
- “Strippins” – It’s a strip-mine hole, or it’s a popular swimming area for locals.
- “Henna” It’s used at the end of a sentence, and it means “isn’t that right?”
- “Hoagie” Subs are non-existent in Hazleton; it’s a hoagie.
- “Youse” It’s used when speaking and intending to use the plural form of “you.”
- “Youse guys” It’s when you’re referring to men or women.
- “Jeet” It’s the shortened term for “did you eat?”
These are just some examples of the unique words in the Hazleton area. It is evident that a conversation with a Hazleton native can be quite confusing to an outsider. It’s not uncommon for someone located only thirty minutes west of the area to have a difficult time understanding basic regional terms.
In addition to the hard work ethic of native Hazleton residents, the community and overall region is close and prides itself on its ethnically diverse history. If a Hazleton native decides to relocate, and they overhear someone else order a “meatball and scamutz hoagie,” the two people will acknowledge one another with a silent head-nod, which is a native’s way of saying hello and recognizing their roots simultaneously.