The “Burgh” Christmas Carol

This is a test.  If you can read the following and understand it, you rock.  If reading the following is like reading Greek, then apparently you haven’t fully lived yet because you haven’t been to Pittsburgh. 

Yinz better wahtch aht,
Yinz better not paht,
Yinz better not cry,
I’m tellin yinz hauscome,
Santa Clause is commin’ dahntahn.
He’s makin’ a list,
He’s checkin’ it aht,
He’s gowen find aht who’s nebby an ‘at,
Santa Clause is commin’ dahntahn.
He knows if yinzes a jaggoff,
He can see inside your haus,
He knows if you’ve been workin’ hard,
Or sittin’ on your caach.
Yinz better wahtch aht,
Yinz better not paht,
Yinz better not cry,
I’m tellin yinz hauscome.
Santa Clause is commin’ dahntahn!


Understand that you’ll need to learn this mother tounge before you visit.  Speaking English isn’t enough to navigate the hilly streets of the Burgh.  Pittsburghese is a South Western Pennsylvania dialect that compresses all words and phrases into shorter, linguistic units.  For example: 

“J’eet jet?”
“No, j’ew?”

This is NOT an anti-semitic, Mel Gibson tirade.  This is simply how one Pittsburgher asks another Pittsburgher, “Did you eat yet?”  With the second Pittsburgher, answering, “No, did you?”

Pittsburghese also requires one to prounce words differently.  Like “tire” and “tower” would both be prounced, “tahr”.  When talking with a Pittsburgher you must listen carefully and use contextual clues to fully grasp what the speaker is telling you.  For example, a flat tahr doesn’t mean that a building collapsed.  It means that a tire needs changed. 

Which brings up another Pittsburghese highlight.  The verb form, “to be” doesn’t exist.  Your shirt needs ironed, your hair needs cut, and your teeth need brushed.  To be?  Unfortunately it’s not to be, and yinz don’t even have to ask the question, annat. 

“Yinz” is simply a plural form of you and “annat” is the compressed form of “and that” which is added to most sentences.  For example: Yinz wanna go aht annat?”  Translation:  Do you want to go out and that?” 

I think saying “annat” covers you legally.  It could mean dinner, drinks, looking at the stars, or sex and therefore the door is open for the night to take you in various directions.  A good thing to know if a Pittsburgher asks you out.      

Of course you might not get asked out if you’re “nebby”, which means that you have trouble minding your own business and like to poke around other people’s lives.  And most importantly if during the date, you’re called a “jag-off”, that’s not a compliment.

I could go on and on here.  Frankly, you need to experience if for yourself.  If you can’t get to the Burgh, then check out these websites.  For a serious and scholarly look at the Pittsburgh dialect, check aht the Pittsburgh Speech and Society page.  For fun and laughs, go to the Pittsburghese site.  And lastly, for some great pictures of The Burgh annat, click here.

(The author of The Burgh Christmas Carol is unknown.  This little diddy gets passed around between Pittsburghers every year around this time. If you know the author, please send me a link so I can give credit where credit is due.)

Update: 11/21/13.  The authors have been revealed thanks to a reader named Sully.  He states that Kevin Harkins,  Bruce Chiu and Bob Wenzel were the fine Pittsburgh folks that penned this tune.  Glad to finally be able to give credit where credit is due.


5 responses to “The “Burgh” Christmas Carol

  1. Pingback: The Burgh Christmas Carol, Take Two « Enter The Circle

  2. Pingback: Santa Clause – Burgh Style Annat | Enter The Circle

  3. I was one of the group of people who came up with the jingle. The majority credit goes to Kevin Harkins though. We came up with this back in 1996 or 97 at the 7th Street Grille over holiday happy hour.

    • Thanks Sully – I’ve always wondered who wrote this. Do you think he’d want me to put a link to his law firm? Or does he like to keep his authorship quiet? I’m happy to link to you as well – just let me know.

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