The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Going Dutch

March 26, 2014

SPRAGGING can save your life - Part 2

- — Sprag worked for me for 13 years, until my family moved to Mifflinburg, Union County, and I made the amazing discovery that it’s not a well-known word. People give you the same blank look when they hear it as they do when you talk about jaggers or the hosey. It’s hard for me to believe, because it’s such a fitting description, but those prickly, round burrs that most people call burdock are not often called jaggers by anyone outside of … where? Coal towns? Shamokin? My old neighborhood?

I don’t even know how far-reaching these terms are. I only know that the people in my world back then hated jaggers as much as people today hate burdock, especially when it gets matted into your thick, fluffy mittens or the dog’s fur. What a mess. But many of the men in my community could leave behind little frustrations like jaggers by heading to the hosey for a nice, cold beer.

Just about every fire station had a bar. I’m not sure if hosey referred to the bar itself or the fire house in general, but it was always a popular place. Spragging, jaggers, hosey. ... Who would have thought these words were not to be found in the King’s English? And if these simple words are unknown outside of my hometown, what other invented ones have I unknowingly been using? You have to watch how you talk when you grow up inside Pennsylvania. Not everyone has as rich a vocabulary as we do.

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Sprecken sie Pennsylvaniaish?