examines the Philly-centric linguistic phenomenon -- and analyzes why it's so special.
Taylor Jones, a Ph.D student at the University of Pennsylvania, was unfamiliar with the bizarre stew of linguistic quirks in Philadelphia when he first started school there a few years ago. An army brat, it seems like Jones grew up everywhere but eastern Pennsylvania. But one of his first interactions with legendary Penn linguist Bill Labov started him on the road to understanding his new city.
"My introduction to graduate work was being asked about jawn," says Jones...
The word "jawn" is unlike any other English word. In fact, according to the experts that I spoke to, it’s unlike any other word in any other language. It is an all-purpose noun, a stand-in for inanimate objects, abstract concepts, events, places, individual people, and groups of people. It is a completely acceptable statement in Philadelphia to ask someone to "remember to bring that jawn to the jawn..."
So let’s start at the beginning: Where does “jawn” come from?
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Original source: Atlas Obscura