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Encyclopedia > Pittsburgh English

Pittsburgh English, popularly known as Pittsburghese, is the dialect of American English spoken by many residents of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA and surrounding Western Pennsylvania. For other uses, see American English (disambiguation). ... “Pittsburgh” redirects here. ... Capital Harrisburg Largest city Philadelphia Area  Ranked 33rd  - Total 46,055 sq mi (119,283 km²)  - Width 280 miles (455 km)  - Length 160 miles (255 km)  - % water 2. ... This article needs to be cleaned up to conform to a higher standard of quality. ...


Many of the features found in the speech of Pittsburghers are popularly thought to be unique to the city, as is reflected in the term Pittsburghese, the putative sum of these features in the form of a dialect. However, few of these features are restricted solely to Pittsburgh or the Pittsburgh metropolitan area, but instead are found throughout southwestern Pennsylvania, the North Midland dialect region, the Midland dialect region, or even large parts of the United States (Johnstone, Bhasin, and Wittkofski, 2002; Wisnosky 2003; Johnstone and Baumgardt, 2004). Perhaps the only feature whose distribution is restricted near-exclusively to the Pittsburgh metropolitan area is /aw/ monophthongization, in which words such as house, down, found, or sauerkraut are pronounced with an "ah" sound instead of the more standard pronunciation of "aw." A dialect (from the Greek word διάλεκτος, dialektos) is a variety of a language characteristic of a particular group of the languages speakers. ... “Pittsburgh” redirects here. ... The Pittsburgh metropolitan area is the U.S. Census-defined seven county region surrounding the city of Pittsburgh in Western Pennsylvania, United States. ... Capital Harrisburg Largest city Philadelphia Area  Ranked 33rd  - Total 46,055 sq mi (119,283 km²)  - Width 280 miles (455 km)  - Length 160 miles (255 km)  - % water 2. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with North American regional phonology. ... The Pittsburgh metropolitan area is the U.S. Census-defined seven county region surrounding the city of Pittsburgh in Western Pennsylvania, United States. ... A monophthong (in Greek μονόφθογγος = single note) is a pure vowel sound, one whose articulation at both beginning and end is relatively fixed, and which does not glide up or down towards a new position of articulation; compare diphthong. ...


The language of the early Scots-Irish settlers had the greatest influence on the speech of southwestern and western Pennsylvania, an influence reflected mainly in the retention of certain lexical items (cruds or cruddled milk, hap, jag, jagger, nebby, neb, neb-nose, nebshit, redd up, slippy, yinz/yunz/you’uns, "punctual" whenever and possibly "positive" anymore and reversed leave~let transitivity), but also in the like, need, or want + past participle grammatical constructions and the discourse marker ‘n’at. The dialect region of western Pennsylvania ranges north to Erie, Pennsylvania, west to Youngstown, Ohio, south to Clarksburg, West Virginia, and east to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (Labov, Ash and Boberg 2005). Scots-Irish (formerly Scotch-Irish) is a term used to describe inhabitants of the USA and Canada of Scots-Irish (particularly Ulster-Scots) descent, who formed distinctive communities and had distinctive social characteristics. ... “Erie” redirects here. ... Location within the state of Ohio Coordinates: , Country United States State Ohio Counties Mahoning Founded 1796 Incorporated 1848 (village) - 1867 (city) Government  - Mayor Jay Williams (I) Area  - City  34. ... Clarksburg is a city located in Harrison County, West Virginia. ... Location in Dauphin County and state of Pennsylvania Coordinates: , Country United States Commonwealth Pennsylvania County Dauphin Incorporated 1791 Charter 1860 Government  - Mayor Stephen R. Reed (D) Area  - City  11. ...


Documented contributions from other languages are pierogi (Hall 2002) and kolbassi (Cassidy and Hall 1996) from Polish, babushka from Russian (Cassidy 1985), and, from German, falling intonation at the end of questions with a definite yes or no answer (Fasold 1980). Possible contributions from other languages are reversed leave~let transitivity from German (Adams 2002) and monophthongal /aw/ from Slavic languages (Johnstone 2002; Labov, Ash, and Boberg 2005), though these influences are openly posited as speculative. Pierogi frying A plateful of Pierogi Pierogi (also perogi, perogy, piroghi, pirogi, or pyrohy) are filled Slavic dumplings. ...


The features described below have been documented in the speech of white Pittsburghers. There is no published research to date on African American Pittsburghers’ speech. For each feature, examples and further explanation are provided when necessary, while approximate geographic distribution and origins are provided when possible. An African American (also Afro-American, Black American, or simply black) is a member of an ethnic group in the United States whose ancestors, usually in predominant part, were indigenous to Africa. ...

Contents

Phonology

  • /ɑ/~/ɔ/--> /ɔ/ merger (Kurath 1961; Gagnon 1999; Layton 1999; Johnstone, Bhasin and Wittkofski 2002; Wisnosky 2003; Johnstone and Baumgardt 2004; Labov, Ash and Boberg 2005; Johnstone, Andrus and Danielson 2006).
Examples: cot and caught are pronounced [kɔt]; Don and dawn are pronounced [dɔn].
Further explanation: Speakers who use the /ɔ/ instead of the /ɑ/ sound round their lips and/or produce the vowel further towards the back of their mouths.
Geographic distribution: While the merger of these low back vowels is widespread in the United States, the phoneme that results from this merger is typically the more fronted and unrounded /ɑ/. In southwestern Pennysylvania, speakers display the less common realization of /ɔ/ (Johnstone, Bhasin and Wittkofski 2002; Johnstone and Baumgardt 2004; Labov, Ash and Boberg 2005; Johnstone, Andrus and Danielson 2006).
  • /ɑw/ monophthongization (Kurath 1961; Gagnon 1999; Layton 1999; McElhinny 1999; Johnstone, Bhasin and Wittkofski 2002; Wisnosky 2003; Johnstone and Baumgardt 2004; Labov, Ash and Boberg 2005; Johnstone, Andrus and Danielson 2006).
Examples: house is pronounced [hɑ:s]; out is pronounced [ɑ:t]; found is pronounced [fɑ:nd]; downtown is pronounced [dɑ:ntɑ:n].
Further explanation: The diphthong /ɑw/ (also rendered as /ɑʊ/) becomes the monophthong /ɑ/. The /ɑ/ sound is often depicted orthographically as “ah.” The colon after the /ɑ/ indicates that the vowel is long.
Geographic distribution: One of the few features, if not the only one, restricted near-exclusively to southwestern Pennsylvania (Johnstone, Bhasin and Wittkofski 2002; Johnstone and Baumgardt 2004; Labov, Ash and Boberg 2005; Johnstone, Andrus and Danielson 2006).
Origins: May be the result of contact from Slavic languages during the early twentieth century (Johnstone, Bhasin and Wittkofski 2002; Labov, Ash and Boberg 2005).
  • /ɑj/ monophthongization (Kurath 1961; Gagnon 1999; Layton 1999; McElhinny 1999; Johnstone, Bhasin and Wittkofski 2002; Wisnosky 2003; Johnstone and Baumgardt 2004; Johnstone, Andrus and Danielson 2006).
Examples: tile is pronounced [tɑ:l]; pile is pronounced [pɑ:l]; tire is pronounced [tɑ:ɹ]; iron is pronounced [ɑ:ɹn].
Further explanation: Before /l/ and /ɹ/, the diphthong /ɑy/ (also rendered as /ɑi/ or /ɑɪ/) is monophthongized to /ɑ/. The /ɑ/ is often depicted orthographically as “ah.” The colon after the /ɑ/ indicates that the vowel is long.
Geographic distribution: Southwestern Pennsylvania and elsewhere, including the southern states (see above citations).
  • Epenthetic /ɹ/ (Layton 1999; McElhinny 1999; Johnstone, Bhasin and Wittkofski 2002; Wisnosky 2003; Johnstone and Baumgardt 2004; Johnstone, Andrus and Danielson 2006).
Example: wash is pronounced as [wɔɹʃ].
Further explanation: Occurs after vowels in a small number of words. Sometimes also called “intrusive r.” The /ʃ/ sound is often depicted orthographically as "sh."
Geographic distribution: Southwestern Pennsylvania and elsewhere (see above citations).
  • /i/~/ɪ/ and /u/~/ʊ/ tense-lax mergers (Brown 1982; Gagnon 1999; Layton 1999; McElhinny 1999; Johnstone, Bhasin and Wittkofski 2002; Wisnosky 2003; Johnstone and Baumgardt 2004; Labov, Ash and Boberg 2005; Johnstone, Andrus and Danielson 2006).
Examples: steel and still are pronounced [stɪl]; pool and pull are pronounced [pʊl].
Further explanation: Before the liquids /l/ and /ɹ /, the tense vowels /i/ and /u/ are laxed to /ɪ/ and /ʊ/, respectively. In standard American English, /i/ is the sound in beet, /ɪ/ the sound in bit, /u/ the sound in food, and /ʊ/ the sound in good. Finally, in contrast to the /i/~/ɪ/ merger, the /u/~/ʊ/ merger appears to be more advanced. On the /i/~/ɪ/ merger, Labov, Ash and Boberg (2005) note, "the stereotype of this merger is based only on a close approximation of some forms, and does not represent the underlying norms of the dialect."
Geographic distribution: The /i/~/ɪ/ merger is found in southwestern Pennsylvania (Brown 1982; Gagnon 1999; Layton 1999; Johnstone, Bhasin and Wittkofski 2002; Wisnosky 2003; Johnstone and Baumgardt 2004; Johnstone, Andrus and Danielson 2006) as well as parts of the southern United States, including Alabama, Texas and the west (McElhinny 1999; Labov, Ash and Boberg 2005). On the other hand, the /u/~/ʊ/ is consistently found only in southwestern Pennsylvania (Labov, Ash and Boberg 2005).
  • /i/~/ɪ/ merger in eagle (Gagnon 1999; Johnstone, Bhasin and Wittkofski 2002; Wisnosky 2003; Johnstone and Baumgardt 2004).
Geographic distribution: Southwestern Pennsylvania (see above citations).
  • /l/ vocalization (Hankey 1972; Layton 1999; McElhinny 1999; Johnstone, Bhasin and Wittkofski 2002; Wisnosky 2003; Johnstone and Baumgardt 2004; Johnstone, Andrus and Danielson 2006).
Examples: well is pronounced something like [wɛw]; milk something like [mɪwk] or [mɛwk]; role something like [ɹow]; and color something like [kʌwɚ].
Further explanation: When it occurs after vowels, /l/ is vocalized, or "labialized,” sometimes sounding like a /w/, or a cross between a vowel and a velarized, or “dark,” /l/.
Geographic distribution: Southwestern Pennsylvania (Hankey 1972; Layton 1999; McElhinny 1999; Johnstone, Bhasin and Wittkofski 2002; Wisnosky 2003; Johnstone and Baumgardt 2004; Johnstone, Andrus and Danielson 2006) and elsewhere, including many African American varieties (McElhinny 1999).
  • /o/~/u/ and /ʊ/ merger (Labov, Ash and Boberg 2005).
Examples: Polish is pronounced [pʊlish][or [pʊwish]; cold is pronounced [kʊld] or [kʊwd].
Further explanation: As the examples suggest, this merger only occurs when /o/ precedes /l/.
  • /ʌ/ lowering (Labov, Ash and Boberg 2005).
Example: When found is monophthongized, it might be nearly homonymous with fund. Found would be pronounced [fɑ:nd] and fund closer to this than a typical /fʌnd/.
Further explanation: While the /ʌ/ sound may sometimes sound approximately like an /ɑ/, a listener could easily distinguish between the two words by noting the length of the vowel. Labov, Ash and Boberg (2005) explain that the longest lowered /ʌ/ they encountered was shorter than the shortest monophthongized /ɑ/ they encountered. So, to speakers and listeners, the sounds are distinct.
Geographic distribution: Southwestern Pennsylvania (Labov, Ash and Boberg 2005).

For information on IPA symbols used, see International Phonetic Alphabet. Articles with similar titles include the NATO phonetic alphabet, which has also informally been called the “International Phonetic Alphabet”. For information on how to read IPA transcriptions of English words, see IPA chart for English. ...


Vocabulary

  • babushka n. headscarf (Cassidy 1985).
Further explanation: In Russian, the word means “grandmother.”
Geographic distribution: Predominantly used in northeast U.S., Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan (see above citation).
Origins: Russian (see above citation).
  • (baby) buggy n. baby carriage.
Geographic distribution: Kurath (1949) mentions that speakers in a large portion of Pennsylvania use the term, but that it is “very common in the Pittsburgh area[,]…[in] the adjoining counties of Ohio and on the lower Kanawha.”
  • the 'Burgh n. Pittsburgh (Johnstone, Wittkofski and Bhasin 2002; Johnstone, Andrus and Danielson 2006).
Geographic distribution: Pittsburgh and surrounding areas (see above citations).
  • carbon oil n. kerosene (Kurath 1949).
Geographic distribution: From the western edge of the Alleghenies to beyond the Ohio line (see above citation).
  • chipped ham n. very thinly sliced chopped ham loaf for use on sandwiches (Johnstone, Bhasin and Wittkofski 2002; Johnstone and Baumgardt 2004; Johnstone, Andrus and Danielson 2006) (see Chip-Chopped Ham).
Example: “I like to have a chipped-ham sandwich.”
Geographic distribution: A trade-name specific to Pittsburgh and surrounding areas (see above citations).
  • city chicken n. cubes of pork loin and/or veal on a short wooden skewer which are breaded, then fried and/or baked.
Example: “We're having city chicken for dinner.”
Geographic distribution: Southwestern Pennsylvania and Northern West Virginia (see above citations).
Origins: Not entirely known, but rumored to have begun during the Depression Era, when people took meat scraps and fashioned a make-shift drumstick out of them.
  • cruds, crudded milk, or cruddled milk n. cottage cheese (Kurath 1949; Crozier 1984).
Geographic distribution: Kurath(1949) claims these forms are used from the western edge of the Alleghenies to beyond the Ohio line; and Crozier (1984) claims that they are restricted to southwestern Pennsylvania.
Origins: Scots-Irish (Crozier 1984).
  • dippy adj. "anything you can dip something in—gravy, coffee, etc." (Cassidy and Hall 1991).
Example: “I like my eggs dippy.”
Geographic distribution: Pennsylvania (see above citation).
  • grinnie n. chipmunk (Kurath 1949).
Geographic distribution: From the western edge of the Alleghenies to beyond the Ohio line (see above author).
  • gumband n. rubber band (Cassidy and Hall 1991; Johnstone, Bhasin and Wittkofski 2002; Wisnosky 2003; Johnstone and Baumgadt 2004; Johnstone, Andrus and Danielson 2006).
Geographic distribution: Southwestern Pennsylvania (see above citations).
  • hap n. comfort (Maxfield 1931); comforter, quilt (Crozier 1984).
Examples: to mean "comfort," “He’s been in poor hap since his wife died” (Maxfield 1931); to mean "comforter, quilt," “It was cold last night but that hap kept me warm.”
Geographic distribution: hap is used for "comfort" in western Pennsylvania (Maxfield 1931); and a "quilt" is known as a hap only in western Pennsylvania (Crozier 1984).
  • hoagie n. a submarine sandwich (Cassidy and Hall 1991).
Geographic distribution: Used “chiefly in PA and NJ” but is “becoming more widely recognized” (see above citation or hoagie article).
  • jag v. prick, stab, jab (Cassidy and Hall 1996); tease (Johnstone, Andrus and Danielson 2006).
Further explanation: The form is often followed by off to mean "to annoy, irritate, play tricks on; to disparage; to reject," as well as around to mean "annoy, or tease." These phrases are probably influenced by jack off and jack around, respectively (Cassidy and Hall 1986).
Geographic distribution: Chiefly Pennsylvania, especially southwestern Pennsylvania, but also portions of Appalachia (see above citations).
Origins: Scots-Irish (see above citations).
  • jagger n. any small, sharp-pointed object or implement (Cassidy and Hall 1996).
Further explanation: The word applies mainly to thorns and briars, and is used as an adjective to describe bushes with thorns or briars, as in a jagger bush (see above citation).
Geographic distribution: Chiefly Pennsylvania (see above citation).
Origins: Scots-Irish (see above citation).
  • kolbusy or kolbassi n. sausage (Cassidy and Hall 1996).
Further explanation: Pronounced [kolbɑsi] or [kowbasi]; is a variant of the more common pronunciation of kielbasa, which is pronounced [kiəlbɑsə] or [kɪlbɑsə].
Geographic distribution: Chiefly Pennsylvania (see above citation).
Origins: The OED (1991) lists kolbasa as a variable pronunciation of kielbasa, and notes that the former pronunciation is Polish and the latter Russian.
  • jumbo n. bologna lunchmeat (Cassidy and Hall 1996; Johnstone, Bhasin and Wittkofski 2002; Wisnosky 2003; Johnstone and Baumgadt 2004, Johnstone, Andrus and Danielson 2006).
Geographic distribution: Southwestern Pennsylvania (see above citations).
  • neb v. "to put ones 'neb' [nose] into a discourse or argument intrusively or impertinently; to pry, to nose around; hence v. phr neb out to mind one's own business"; n. busybody (Cassidy and Hall 1996).
Geographic distribution: Pennsylvania (see above citation).
  • neb-nose or nebby-nose (also nebshit) n. the kind of person who is always poking into peoples’ affairs (Cassidy and Hall 1996).
Geographic distribution: Chiefly Pennsylvania (see above citation).
  • nebby adj. given to prying into the affairs of others; nosy (McElhinny 1999; Johnstone, Bhasin and Wittkofski 2002; Wisnosky 2003; Johnstone and Baumgardt 2004, Johnstone, Andrus and Danielson 2006).
Geographic distribution: Pennsylvania, especially the southwest portion of the state (see above citations).
Origins: Scots-Irish (see above citations).
  • pierogie (also pirogi, padogie, pirohi, or pirotti) n. "a filled dumpling, usually boiled" (Hall 2002).
Geographic distribution: Chiefly in Polish settlement areas such as Maine, New York, Connecticut; but especially Pennsylvania (see above citation).
  • redd up (also ret, rid(d)) v. "also with out; to tidy up, clean up, or out (a room, house, cupboard, etc.); to clean house, tidy up; hence v bl. redding up housecleaning; tidying up" (Hall 2002). Also see Dressman (1979); McElhinny (1999); Johnstone, Andrus and Danielson (2006).
Example: "Yinz better redd up this room."
Geographic distribution: Dressman (1979) notes that it is common to the Pittsburgh area and throughout Pennsylvania, but less so in Philadelphia. It is also scattered about New England States and in New Brunswick, though its occurrence is heaviest in Pennsylvania. Hall (2002) states that its distribution is “scattered, but chiefly N. Midland, esp PA.”
Origins: Scots-Irish (Dressman 1979).
  • slippy adj. slippery (McElhinny 1999; Johnstone, Bhasin and Wittkofski 2002; Wisnosky 2003; Johnstone and Baumgardt 2004; Johnstone, Andrus and Danielson 2006).
Example: "Be careful going down those steps because they’re real slippy."
Geographic distribution: Southwestern Pennsylvania (see above citations).
Origins: Scots-Irish (Johnstone, Bhasin and Wittkofski 2002; Johnstone and Baumgardt 2004; Johnstone, Andrus and Danielson 2006).
  • "punctual" whenever sub. conj. "at the time that" (Montgomery 2001).
Example: "My mother, whenever she passed away, she had pneumonia."
Further explanation: punctual descriptor refers to the use of the word for "a onetime momentary event rather than in its two common uses for a recurrent event or a conditional one" (see above citation).
Geographic distribution: In the Midlands and the South (see above citation).
Origins: Scots-Irish (see above citation).

Chip-Chopped Ham is a name applied to a processed ham luncheon meat, chopped ham, that is sliced razor thin through chipping the meat loaf against a commercial meat slicer blade. ... Two halves of pork being delivered Pork is the culinary name for meat from pigs. ... Veal is the meat of young calves (usually male) appreciated for its delicate taste and tender texture. ... Grilled beef satay A skewer is a thin metal or wood stick used to hold small pieces of food together while grilling. ... For other uses, see The Great Depression (disambiguation). ... Ducks amongst other poultry The Poultry-dealer, after Cesare Vecellio. ... The hoagie is the term for a lunch sandwich in a region including Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey, Delaware, and parts of New York. ... The hoagie is the term for a lunch sandwich in a region including Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey, Delaware, and parts of New York. ...

Grammar

  • "positive" anymore adv. these days; nowadays (Montgomery 1989; McElhinny 1999; Montgomery 1999)
Example: "It seems I always wear these shoes anymore."
Further explanation: While in Standard English anymore must be used as a negative polarity item (NPI), some speakers in Pittsburgh and throughout the Midland area do not have this restriction. When not used as an NPI, anymore means something like "these days."
Geographic Distribution: Midlands (Montgomery 1989).
Origins: Likely Scots-Irish (Montgomery 1999).
  • Reversed leave~let transitivity (Maxfield 1931; Adams 2000; Johnstone, Bhasin and Wittkofski 2002; Wisnosky 2003; Johnstone and Baumgardt 2004; Johnstone, Andrus and Danielson 2006).
Examples: "Leave him go outside”; “Let the book on the table.”
Further explanation: Essentially, leave is used in contexts in which, in standard English, let would be used; and vice versa.
Geographical distribution: Southwestern Pennsylvania and elsewhere (see above citations).
Origins: Either Pennsylvania German or Scots-Irish (Adams 2000).
  • like, need, or want + past participle (Murray, Frazer and Simon 1996; Tenny 1998; McElhinny 1999; Murray and Simon 1999; Montgomery 2001; Johnstone, Bhasin and Wittkofski 2002; Murray and Simon 2002; Wisnosky 2003; Johnstone and Baumgardt 2004; Johnstone, Andrus and Danielson 2006).
Examples: “Babies like cuddled”; “The car needs washed”; “The cat wants petted.”
Further explanation: More common constructions are “Babies like cuddling” or “Babies like to be cuddled”; “”The car needs washing” or “The car needs to be washed”; and “The cat wants petting” or “The cat wants to be petted.”
Geographic distribution: Found predominantly in the North Midland region, but especially in southwestern Pennsylvania (Murray, Frazer and Simon 1996; Murray and Simon 1999; Murray and Simon 2002). Need + past participle is the most common construction, followed by want + past participle, and then like + past participle. The forms are "implicationally related" to one another (Murray and Simon 2002). This means the existence of one construction in a given location entails the existence (or not) of another in that location. Here’s the implicational breakdown: where we find like + past participle, we will also necessarily find want and need + past participle; where we find want + past participle, we will also find need + past participle, but we may or may not find like + past participle; where we find need + past participle, we may or may not find want + past participle and like + past participle. Put another way, the existence of the least common construction implies the necessary existence of the two more common constructions, but the existence of the most common construction does not necessarily entail existence of the two less common constructions.
Origins: like + past participle is Scots-Irish (Murray and Simon 2002). need + past participle is Scots-Irish (Murray, Frazer, and Simon 1996; Murray and Simon 1999; Montgomery 2001; Murray and Simon 2002). While Adams (2002) argues that want + past participle could be from Scots-Irish or German, it seems likely that this construction is Scots-Irish, as Murray and Simon (1999 and 2002) claim. like and need + past participle are Scots-Irish, the distributions of all three constructions are implicationally related, the area where they are predominantly found is most heavily influenced by Scots-Irish, and a related construction, want + directional adverb, as in “The cat wants out,” is Scots-Irish (Crozier 1984).
  • yinz, yunz, you'uns, or youns pr. Second person plural (Crozier 1984; McElhinny 1999; Johnstone, Bhasin and Wittkofski 2002; Wisnosky 2003; Johnstone and Baumgardt 2004; Johnstone, Andrus and Danielson 2006).
Geographic distribution: Southwestern Pennsylvania and elsewhere in Appalachia (see above citations).
Further explanation: See yinz article.
Origins: Along with the yous of New Jersey and the ya’ll of the South, yinz is Scots-Irish (Crozier 1984; Montgomery 2001).

Yinz is a second-person plural pronoun used mainly in southwest Pennsylvania, including Pittsburgh, but it is also found throughout the Appalachians. ...

Discourse and Intonation

  • n'at a "general extender" (McElhinny 1999; Johnstone, Bhasin and Wittkofski 2002; Wisnosky 2003; Johnstone and Baumgardt 2004; Johnstone, Andrus and Danielson 2006).
Example: "We bought a notebook and some pencils n’at."
Further explanation: Reduction of and that, which can mean "along with some other stuff," "the previous was just an example of more general case," or (at least in Glasgow, Scotland) something like "I know this isn’t stated as clearly as it might be, but you know what I mean."
Geographic distribution: Southwestern Pennsylvania (see above citations).
Origins: Possibly Scots-Irish. Macaulay (1995) finds it in the regular speech and narratives of Scottish coal miners in Glasgow, a principal area from which Scottish settlers emigrated to Northern Ireland, and from there, to the American colonies.
  • Falling intonation at the end of questions (Maxfield 1931; Fasold 1980; Layton 1999; Johnstone, Bhasin and Wittkofski 2002; Wisnosky 2003; Johnstone and Baumgardt 2004; Johnstone, Andrus, and Danielson 2006).
Example: "Are you painting your garage?" (with pitch rising in intonation up to just before the last syllable and then falling precipitously).
Further explanation: Speakers who use this intonation pattern do not do so categorically, but instead also end many questions with a rising pitch (Fasold 1980). Such speakers typically use falling pitch for yes/no questions for which they already are quite sure of the answer. So, a speaker uttering the above example is simply confirming what they think they already know, that yes, the person they’re talking to is painting his/her garage.
Geographical distribution: Most common in areas of heavy German settlement, especially southeastern Pennsylvania (Fasold 1980) —hence its nickname, the "Pennsylvania Dutch question"—but also found elsewhere in Pennsylvania, including Pittsburgh (Maxfield 1931; Fasold 1980; Layton 1999; Johnstone, Bhasin and Wittkofski 2002; Wisnosky 2003; Johnstone and Baumgardt 2004; Johnstone, Andrus and Danielson 2006).
Origins: German (Fasold 1980).

References

  1. Adams, M. (2000). Lexical doppelgangers. Journal of English Linguistics 28(3): 295-310.
  2. Brown, C. (1982). A search for sound change: A look at the lowering of tense vowels before liquids in the Pittsburgh area. Master’s thesis. Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh.
  3. Cassidy, F. G., Ed. (1985). Dictionary of American Regional English: Introduction and A-C. Cambridge, Harvard UP.
  4. Cassidy, F. G. and. J.H. Hall., Eds. (1991). Dictonary of American Regional English: D-H. Cambridge, Harvard UP.
  5. Cassidy, F. G. and J.H. Hall, Eds. (1996). Dictionary of American Regional English: I-O. Cambridge, Harvard UP.
  6. Crozier, A. (1984). The Scotch-Irish influence on American English." American Speech 59: 310-331.
  7. Dressman, M. R. (1979). ‘Redd up.’ American Speech 54(2): 141-145.
  8. Fasold, R. W. (1980). The conversational function of Pennsylvania Dutch intonation. Paper presented at New Ways of Analyzing Variation (NWAV), Ann Arbor, MI.
  9. Gagnon, C. L. (1999). Language attitudes in Pittsburgh: 'Pittsburghese' vs. standard English. Master’s thesis. Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh.
  10. Hall, J. H., Ed. (2002). Dictionary of American Regional English: P-Sk. Cambridge, Harvard UP.
  11. Hankey, C. T. (1965). Miscellany: ‘tiger,’ ‘tagger,’ and [aɪ] in western Pennsylvania. American Speech 40: 226-229.
  12. Hankey, C. T. (1972). Notes on west Penn-Ohio phonology. Studies in Linguistics in Honor of Raven I. McDavid, Jr. Ed. by L.M. Davis. Alabama UP: 49-61.
  13. Johnstone, B., N. Bhasin, and D. Wittkofski. (2002). ""Dahntahn" Pittsburgh: monopthongal /aw/ and represenations of localness in southwestern Pennsylvania." American Speech 77(2): 148-166.
  14. Johnstone, B., and D. Baumgardt. (2004). ‘Pittsburghese’ online: vernacular norming in conversation. American Speech 79(2): 115-145.
  15. Johnstone, B., J. Andrus and A. Danielson. (2006). Mobility, indexicality, and the enregisterment of "Pittsburghese." Journal of English Linguuistics 34: 77-104.
  16. Kurath, H. (1949). Western Pennsylvania. A Word Geography of the Eastern United States. Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Press: 35-36.
  17. Kurath, H. and R. I. McDavid. (1961). Western Pennsylvania. The pronunciation of English in the Atlantic United States. Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Press: 17-18.
  18. Labov, W., S. Ash and C. Boberg. (2005). Atlas of North American English: phonetics, phonology, and sound change. Mouton-de-Gruyter.
  19. Layton, N. N. (1999). The dialect of western Pennsylvania: evaluation of ten sounds. Master’s thesis. Goteburg, Sweden: University of Goteburg.
  20. Macauley, R. (1985). The narrative skills of a Scottish coal miner. Focus on: Scotland. Ed. by M. Gorlach. Philadelphia, John Benjamins: 101-124.
  21. Maxfield, E. K. (1931). The speech of south-western Pennsylvania. American Speech 7(1): 18-20.
  22. McElhinny, B. (1999). More on the third dialect of English: linguistic constraints on the use of three phonological variables in Pittsburgh. Language Variation and Change 11: 171-195.
  23. Montgomery, M. B. (1997). A tale of two Georges: the language of Irish Indian traders in colonial North America. Focus on: Ireland. Ed. by J. Kallen. Philadelphia, John Benjamins. 21: 227-254.
  24. Montgomery, M. B. (1989). Exploring the roots of Appalachian English. English World-Wide 10(2): 227-278.
  25. Montgomery, M. B. (2001). "My mother, whenever she passed away, she had pneumonia": The history and functions of whenever. Journal of English Linguistics 29(3): 234-249.
  26. Murray, T. E., T. C. Frazer, and B. L. Simon. (1996). Need + past participle in American English. American Speech 71(3): 255-271.
  27. Murray, T. E. and B. L. Simon. (1999). Want + past participle in American English. American Speech 74(2): 140-164.
  28. Murray, T. E. and B. L. Simon. (2002). At the intersection of regional and social dialects: the case of like + past participle in American English. American Speech 77(1): 32-69.
  29. Newlin, C. (1928). Dialects on the western Pennsylvania frontier. American Speech 4(2): 104-110.
  30. Shields Jr., K. (1985). Germanisms in Pennsylvania English: an update. American Speech 60(3): 228-237.
  31. Simpson, J.A. and E.S.C. Weiner, Eds. (1991). Compact Oxford English Dictionary. 2nd Ed. Cambridge: Oxford UP.
  32. Tenny, C. (1998). Psych verbs and verbal passives in Pittsburghese. Linguistics 36: 591-597.
  33. Wisnosky, M. (2003). ‘Pittsburghese’ in Pittsburgh humor. Master’s thesis in Linguistics. Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh.

External links

  • Pittsburgh Speech and Society A site for non-linguists, created by Carnegie Mellon University linguist Barbara Johnstone.
  • Pittsburghese A site made for laughs, mostly
  • Western Pennsylvania Dialect Survey, Clarion University of Pennsylvania
  • Pittsburgh is the Galapagos Islands of American dialect, New York Times article, March 17, 2006

  Results from FactBites:
 
Pittsburgh English - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (3256 words)
Many of the features found in the speech of Pittsburghers are popularly thought to be unique to the city, as is reflected in the term "Pittsburghese," the putative sum of these features in the form of a dialect.
However, few of these features are restricted solely to Pittsburgh or the Pittsburgh metropolitan area, but instead are found throughout southwestern Pennsylvania, the North Midland dialect region, the Midland dialect region, or even large parts of the United States (Johnstone, Bhasin, and Wittkofski, 2002; Wisnosky 2003; Johnstone and Baumgardt, 2004).
Mobility, indexicality, and the enregisterment of "Pittsburghese." Journal of English Linguuistics 34: 77-104.
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (4842 words)
The Pittsburgh English dialect, or "Pittsburghese," derives from influences from the Scotch-Irish, German, Central European and Eastern European immigrants.
Pittsburgh Public School teachers are paid well relative to their peers, ranking 17th in 2000-2001 among the 100 largest cities by population for the highest minimum salary offered to teachers with a BA ($34,300).
Pittsburgh, as well as Baltimore, Maryland, also have a special relationship with the city of Karmiel, and the neighboring region of Misgav, in Israel, as a part of the Partnership 2000 program.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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