Only in York County

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Whatfer

First in an ongoing series of York County-isms

Whatfer: Ex. “Whatfer vegetables we having with dinner tonight, Mom?” or “Whatfer shoes you wearing?”

Literal translation: The closest I can come is “What are you wearing for shoes” but even that doesn’t make a ton of sense.

“Which” could serve the same purpose, I guess, but it doesn’t seem to imply the broad range of options allowed by whatfer. You also get to drop the “are” with whatfer – you know, “Which shoes ARE you wearing?” vs. “Whatfer shoes you wearing?”

Finally, and here’s the editor in me, it seems like whatfer tends to indicate something that’s going to happen in the future. I can’t think of a time when I’ve used it to ask someone which of a set of options they chose in the past. OK, end boring grammar lesson.

I used to hate “whatfer.” My high school boyfriend (also Dover Township born and raised) was a big fan of it. But I’ve gradually caught myself saying it more and more. And I’m big into economy of words. If I can leave one out and still make sense, I’m all for it.

I’m trying to collect all the York County phrases I know as part of this blog, but I need suggestions. I’m not even sure all of my “Yorkisms” are really unique to this area, but since I’ve never lived anywhere else and my “outsider” family members make fun of me for them, I’m calling it a safe bet.

So, any others you can think of? Post comments below!

1 comment on “Whatfer

  1. “Whatfer,” which I’ve heard outside of York County, is a construction that comes directly from German. For example, a German-speaking person might ask in a restaurant, “Was fur Suppe haben sie heute?” Literal translation: What for soup have you today?

    I have heard some of the other Yorkisms listed also spoken in nearby counties as well.

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