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Pittsburgh accent

Pittsburgh and the surrounding areas of Western Pennsylvania have had a distinctive accent for quite some time, which is similar to the regional accent used throughout western Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, and a small part of Maryland. The Pittsburgh accent is a combination of the German, Italian, Polish, Slovakian, and other accents of the many European immigrants who came to the area to find work in the steel mills or associated industries. With the advent of mass media, along with an influx of technology industry workers, in recent years the accent has become markedly less pronounced among younger generations, though still definitely noticeable. Within the city, density of the Pittsburgh accent tends to be highest in the North Side area of Pittsburgh, and becomes radially less thick with distance from the North Side.

A hard Pittsburgh accent is characterized by: (incomplete; also, please feel free to translate to IPA)

  • Words tend to run together in certain situations, mostly involving short words. Example: "Djyu eat?" (Did you eat?) "No, djyu?" (No, did you?)
  • to becomes ta, and is often contracted onto the end of the previous word. Example: "I'm really not s'posta leave" (I'm really not supposed to leave); "Wanna?" (Want to?)
  • o as in down becomes ah. Example: "dahntahn" (downtown)
  • Long i as in iron and tire becomes ah (a as in affect). Examples: "ahrn", "tahr" (iron and tire).
  • Long e sound as in steel tends towards i as in impress. Example: "Stillers" (Steelers, the local football team)
  • You (singular) sometimes becomes ya; you (plural) becomes yunz or yunz guys. Example: "Yunz guys wanna pick up some Ahrn City?" (Do you guys want to pick up some Iron City [local brand of beer]?)
  • 'out' becomes 'aht', with the 'a' as in mat or bat
  • Final 'g' in words ending in '-ing' is sometimes dropped. Example: "goin'" (going); "doin'" (doing)
  • L sounds are swallowed. So in the "Stillers" example above, the L sound is made in the back of the throat.

In addition, there are numerous unique dialectic terms, such as:

  • chipped ham (pronounced "chipp'tam") or chipchopped ham n. very thinly sliced ham for use on sandwiches.
  • crick n. creek
  • dippy eggs n. eggs over easy which are not fully cooked, so that the yolk is still runny
  • gumband n. a rubber band.
  • hoagie n. a submarine sandwich
  • jag-off n., vulgar an asshole; an extremely disagreeable person
  • jagger bush n. any shrub with thorns
  • jag around v. 1) to waste time; 2) to mess with someone in a non-serious fashion
  • jimmies n. candy flecks put on ice cream or cupcakes; sprinkles
  • jumbo n. synonym for bologna lunchmeat. Isaly's[?], a local chain of delis, sells a popular variety known as square jumbo
  • Kennywood's open interj., said to men only indicates that the zipper of one's pants is open. Kennywood is a popular amusement park that is only open during the summer months.
  • meer n. mirror
  • n'at contraction "and that". Means, "along with some other stuff", as in, "Yunz wanna go dahn ta Isaly's n'get sommadat square jumbo n'at?" (Do you all want to go down to Isaly's and get some of that square baloney, and a few other things?)
  • neb v. to investigate or take interest in things which are none of one's business. He was nebbin' around in my business.
  • nebshit n., vulgar An individual who persistently or habitually cannot mind their own business.
  • nuh-uh interj. No way. Opposite of yuh-huh
  • pierogie (often shortened to progie) n. a macaroni product filled with mashed potatoes
  • pop n. a flavored carbonated beverage; what is referred to in most other parts of the country as a soda.
  • pronounciation n. pronunciation
  • rilly adv. really
  • rubbers n. galoshes
  • Sahside n. the South Side district of Pittsburgh
  • shahr n. shower
  • soda n. refers strictly to only unflavored carbonated water
  • Sliberty n. the East Liberty district of Pittsburgh
  • slippy adj. slippery
  • street car n. a trolley
  • sweeper n. a vacuum cleaner
  • tennies n. tennis shoes
  • the tube or tubes n. either the Fort Pitt or Liberty Tubes, tunnels drilled through Mt. Washington which separate the South Side from the South Hills
  • up Mike's 'n dahn Jake's ("up Mike's and down Jake's) n. fictitious location used when one is asked where one is going and does not wish to answer or doesn't know
  • worsh n.,v. wash
  • yuh-huh interj. Yes, absolutely. Opposite of nuh-uh

Older idioms not used much among younger generations:

  • Jiminey Christmas! interjection of amazement or surprise.
  • Kiss my ass under Kaufmann's Clock! "Go to hell!" Refers to an ornate clock on a busy streetcorner in downtown Pittsburgh attached to the Kaufmann's[?] department store.



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