Only in York County

Part of the USA Today Network

More thoughts on yesterday night

Thank you so much to all of you who made me feel about about my “Joanism” of yesterday night.

I was worried that it wasn’t even a Yorkism, because even some Yorkers were making fun of me for it. Well, my friends were happy to make me feel better, even if they did so in some kind of confusing ways!

My friend Lorie was the first to reply, saying, “I think grammatically it is okay, but you are saying 4 syllables versus 2 for last night, so last night is less work. Yesterday night would refer only until midnight as afterward it would be today. Could yesterday night also refer to the early morning hours of the previous day as that also would be nighttime? Whereas, last night it refers only night time hours of the previous nighttime. There does that sound sufficiently confusing.”

YES, was the overwhelming answer, but I knew what Lorie meant!

My father-in-law, John “Pappy” Otto, says, “Yesterday was the entire day before. An entire day includes morning, noon and night. So why not ‘yesternight?’ The answer is ‘it sound goofy.’ ‘Tomorrow night’ points specifically to the evening hours. One just doesn’t say ‘I’m going to do something tomorrow day.’ Maybe you will do something ‘tomorrow morning’ or ‘tomorrow at noon’ or ‘tomorrow in the afternoon.’ Remember Mr. Shakespeare … ‘Tomorrow and tomorrow creeps in its steady pace from day to day (not night to night).'”

My good friend for many years Justin says, “I was born and raised in York County, and I studied English / Linguistics in Clarion, PA. It was interesting to notice and begin studying different dialects (e.g. York), as well as idiolects (e.g. Joan), during that time. I learned a lot about how I actually speak – my grammar wasn’t (isn’t!) as perfect as I thought. I used to care a lot – I thought that one had to use ‘proper’ grammar. Over time, I came to realize that it’s more interesting to study how people use language (descriptive), rather than tell them how to use it (prescriptive). That being said, I see nothing ‘wrong’ with saying yesterday night, though I do not personally use it. Also, language is not static – it is very much a living thing. So why try to nail it down and prescribe its use? Go with the flow and enjoy it! That’s what I say, anyway.”

Funniest part? I did not know what an idiolect was – I thought it was something said by an idiot. Well, sometimes it is. But not technically. But Justin was kind enough to fill me in.

Finally, I heard from new commenter Gwen. Gwen says, “Hi There you are not alone. I’m 53 and was told I said that when I was a little girl living in New York. I was in Va. visiting my grown kids and my grandson from Fredrick, Md, said ‘yesterday night.’ I knew exactly what he meant and had to call my mom who lives in York, Pa. and told her history is repeating itself. Yesterday night is exactly what it is, yesterday … night.”

Thank you, Gwen! I feel very gratified to hear I’m not alone!

PS – Guess when I wrote this post? From when you’re reading it… I wrote it yesterday night! I amuse myself.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.