The first time yinz, Primanti, slippy, n'at debuted on Pittsburgh Twitter

Written by Jacob Quinn Sanders on .

It didn’t take long for the friends who lived in my pocket to become my real friends. Twitter made that easier.

Even before moving to Pittsburgh four years ago, I started following some Pittsburgh people as preparation. Food people, networking people, journalism people, academic people, neighborhood people.


I was going to be writing freelance, so finding people was critical to my livelihood and my sanity. They were welcoming and smart and curious and it didn’t take long to start meeting them in person. They wanted to be smarter about their city and more connected within it. Twitter made that easier.

This week, Twitter made it possible for the first time to search every tweet going back to the first one on March 21, 2006. I decided to take a look at how Pittsburgh began revealing itself, its idiosyncrasies, on what was then a very new platform.

My search idea was simple: the first mention of Pittsburghese words and Pittsburgh people in their proper context.

The word “Pittsburgh” first appeared Oct. 24, 2006. Fittingly, it was for networking. A guy in a web series called “Something To Be Desired” was looking for “cool bands” to be on the show.

The word “Steelers” appeared precisely a month earlier.

“N’at” and “yinz” beat “Primanti” to Twitter, which beat “yinzer.”

"Slippy" beat all of those.

“Jagoff” came later but beat “Primanti’s.”

“Gumband” beat “nebby” by a few months in 2008. “Nebby” somehow didn’t make an appearance until that July — in a tweet about cats, because this is the Internet — which seems odd given that four months or so earlier Twitter folks were already nebbing on Rick Sebak.

Not that Pittsburgh wasn’t voyeuristic about other people before that.

It seems a little funny now, with Bill Peduto being the established mayor of both Pittsburgh and its internets, but the first tweet mentioning him was about him dropping out of an election.

But this is what’s cool about Pittsburgh. The tweeters of those first tweets about Peduto and Ravenstahl — they know each other. They’re friends. Mr. Ravenstahl Tweet was one of the first people I met when I moved here. I’ve met the woman who first used “n’at” in a tweet. The first person to mention “jaggerbush” -- the South Side bar in this case, not the semi-aggressive flora, but that’s still pretty Pittsburghy -- is a friend.

And it was a way for people to reconnect, with those words reaching them wherever they went, even if it was a grudging fondness.

I read a lot about Pittsburgh before I moved here that suggested it was a closed society, hard to break into for new people. Cold, suspicious.

Not at all. I found quickly that if I accepted the premise that Pittsburgh could be cool, could be fascinating, people were warmer than family. What they were tired of, protecting themselves from, was uninformed or misinformed perception of what Pittsburgh was and what Pittsburgh was trying to become. Don’t talk if you don’t know. That kind of thing.

Twitter came along at a perfect time for Pittsburgh — collectively, piece by piece, word by word, the city wanted to share itself with the world.

About everything.


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