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December 27 , 2010

Speaking Pittsburghese: The Story of a Dialect


This book explores the history of Pittsburghese, the language of the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area as it is imagined and used by Pittsburghers. Pittburghese is linked to local identity so strongly that it is alluded to almost every time people talk about what Pittsburgh is like, or what it means to be a Pittsburgher. But what happened during the second half of the 20th century to reshape a largely unnoticed way of speaking into this highly visible urban dialect? In this book, sociolinguist Barbara Johnstone focuses on this question. Treating Pittsburghese as a cultural product of talk, writing, and other forms of social practice, Johnstone shows how non-standard pronunciations, words, and bits of grammar used in the Pittsburgh area were taken up into a repertoire of words and phrases and a vocal style that has become one of the most resonant symbols of local identity in the United States today.

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