Welcome to Pittsburgh (Part VI)

Today's topic: Language

Special bonus: Cleveland

A lot of regions in this country have dialects that are sources of special pride (and occasionally sources of special embarrassment). Speech patterns are more than just ways of talking. They are ways of thinking and living. Pittsburgh, home of the Yinzer, is no exception. Study your Pittsburghese if you want to understand the local conversation. If you're not a newcomer, and if that site is missing your favorite word or phrase, send it in or put it in the Comments. Personally, I'm always on the lookout for "Caketown" (a slightly dated term for Mt. Lebanon), and for the syntax that constructs phrases like "the lawn needs mowed."

Bear in mind that Pittsburghese is not necessarily a class thing, much as our enemies to the northwest might have it. It's more important than that.

UPDATE (11:25 a.m. Tuesday 7/5): Pittsburgh is unabashedly a "pop" town, not a "soda" city. Those of us who grew up in certain nether parts of the country know this stuff as "soft drinks," a phrase that we know better than to use publicly in these parts. "Coke" means Coca-Cola; it's not generic for pop. Milk without fat is "skim," not "non-fat" (as it is in some places); this may make a difference if you brave your local Starbucks. And to many Pittsburghers, "beer" is pronounced "ahrn." Though maybe not for too much longer.

Previous installments:

Welcome to Pittsburgh (Part V)
Welcome to Pittsburgh (Part IV)
Welcome to Pittsburgh (Part III)
Welcome to Pittsburgh (Part II)
Welcome to Pittsburgh (Part I)


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Pittsblog 2.0 is written by Mike Madison, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Send email to michael.j.madison[at]gmail.com. Mike also blogs at Madisonian.net, on law and technology. Chris Briem of Null Space drops by from time to time.

All opinions expressed at Pittsblog 2.0 are those of their respective authors and of no one (and no thing) else, least of all the University of Pittsburgh.

Pittsblog 2.0 has a motto: "It's steel good in Pittsburgh." Say it aloud, with a Pittsburgh accent.

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