Dial Ect For Pittsburgh

2 comments March 17th, 2006at 06:10pm Posted by Eli

Welcome to Pittsburgh…

Today’s NYT had an article on regional dialects, which might help give you some idea of what it’s like to live in Pittsburgh…

[A]n hour south, the woman behind the information desk at the Pennsylvania Welcome Center on Interstate 79 pronounced cot/caught and don/dawn (dahn/dahn) as if they were the same, exactly as Professor Labov’s maps predicted would happen once a traveler left the Inland North.

Outside Lou’s Little Corner Bar in Pittsburgh’s Little Italy, which is known as Bloomfield, it was snowing hard. Inside, a loud argument about the president and weapons of mass destruction was taking place. Did he know? Did he not know? The bartender, Donna Bruno, whose fiancÚ is in Iraq, did not have an opinion. But on the existence of Pittsburghese, she was clear.

“Of course we talk funny,” she said. “We string words together. East Liberty becomes S’liberty. Down the street becomes dahnthestreet. And it’s always what yinz doin? Why we talk this way, I don’t know, but it might be because each neighborhood was settled by different ethnicities during the steel years.” Professor Labov basically concurs with this theory.

Dawn Spring, a waitress working the breakfast shift at Tom’s Diner on East Carson Street, had learned from experience that Pittsburghers speak a language of their own. She’d lived in Texas briefly. “I’d say, ‘I’m gonna redd up my car,’ which means clean up, and no one down there knew what I was talking about. We say yinz, they say y’all. We say gum band for rubber band. We in Pittsburgh may not speak proper English, but we know what we’re saying. And that’s what matters, right?”

They missed “up ‘ere”; the fact that “yinz” is often constructed “yinz guys” (which is kinda nonsensical); and the truncation of the passive voice – i.e., “Those gum bands up ‘ere need to be redded up” becomes “Those gum bands up ‘ere need redded up.”

This has been a public service message from The Linguistics Association of My Apartment (LAMA).

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  • 1. four legs good  |  March 17th, 2006 at 6:14 pm

    What the fuck does THAT mean?

  • 2. Buckeye, Dealer of Rare Coins  |  March 17th, 2006 at 7:01 pm

    I saw that article. Apparently Chicagoans do have an accent! I didn’t know until I came here to Dayton, and was told ‘you talk funny’.

    I don’t recall, did the article even mention ‘sammich’, that was the point of a Christian Science Monitor article on the Pittsburgh dialect.

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