Pittsburgh English

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Pittsburgh English, popularly known as Pittsburghese, is the dialect of American English spoken by many residents of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and surrounding Western Pennsylvania in the United States.[citation needed]



Many of the sounds and words found in the speech of Pittsburghers are popularly thought to be unique to the city. This 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. Instead, many of them are found throughout southwestern Pennsylvania, 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 almost exclusively to the Pittsburgh metropolitan area is /aw/ monophthongization. This means that words such as house, down, found, or sauerkraut are sometimes pronounced with an "ah" sound instead of the more standard pronunciation of "ow." The language of the early Scots-Irish settlers had the greatest influence on the speech of southwestern and western Pennsylvania. This influence is reflected mainly in the retention of certain lexical items (cruds or cruddled milk, hap, jag, jagger, jagoff, nebby, neb, neb-nose, redd up, slippy, yinz/yunz/you’uns, "punctual" whenever and possibly "positive" anymore and reversed usage of leave and let), but also in the like, need, or want + past participle grammatical constructions and the discourse marker ‘n’at, people from Pittsburgh also say "throw me down the ___" in relationship to objects, instead of "Throw the ___ down". According to a study based only on pronunciation, the dialect region of western Pennsylvania ranges north to Erie, Pennsylvania, west to Youngstown, Ohio, south to Clarksburg, West Virginia, and east to Lancaster county, Pennsylvania]] (Labov, Ash and Boberg 2005), but different features may be differently distributed.

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 from German (Adams 2002) and monophthongal /aw/ from contact between English and one or more Slavic languages (Johnstone 2002; Labov, Ash, and Boberg 2005), though these influences are openly posited as speculative.

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