Hairy Hair and Nostril Midgets

Published by kayeshannon in the blog English Language: Quirks, Quips and Quotes. Views: 107

Every area of the country has certain idioms or colloquial phrases that are unique to a particular locale. It's like a Balkanization of the English language.

In Eastern Pennsylvania, home of Pennsylvania Dutch country in Berks, Lancaster and Lehigh counties, there are phrases that endure, although most of the original quaint "dutchified" langauage is used by a handful of old-timers.

According to, "It's all" means something is done or gone. "Outen the lights," has a meaning understood by most people in New York or California. "Gretzy," means cranky and is still used on a regular basis.

There is one word usage that is particularly vexing. Many people in Eastern PA refer to their hair or tresses as "them." "I'm going to wash them tonight." "I have to get them cut tomorrow." "I got them permed."

"Aye, yi, yi!"

Them is plural. You or I would most likely say,
"I'm going to wash my hair," which can be used as both singular and plural (Merriam-Webster, 2004). So if a dutchified local wants to use them, plural, in the singular sense, they would use the imperative conjugation, he or she. Which means. . . I'm going to wash he/she tonight which makes no sense in any reference to hair. Sounds like bad grammar for giving a child a bath.

What would Andy Rooney say? "I have them in my ear." "I have hair in my nose." "I have hairs in my ear." He definitely would not use the singular imperative conjugattion for them, "He's in my nose, or ear." Although a couple of midgets could possibly fit into his nostrils.

What do most women say after going through menopause when estrogen decreases, making natural testosterone levels create hair or hairs on their necks and chins? "I have them on my throat." Have what on your throat - pimples,
dribbles of marinara sauce, or brown liver spots?

Does them refer only to hair on your head or to hair under your armpits and on your legs as well? "I have to shave them under my arms tonight." What? - the dogs silken tresses are too long so you'll put the dog under your arm to shave his coat of hair? Now that is plausible.

The possibilities are endless. It's all.

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