Wp/pgh/Pittsburghese Wiki:Guide

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'Iss article's written in Standard Inglish.

So, you've made it to Pittsburghese Wiki. May I be the first to welcome you to our little corner of the internet. This guide will tell you all there is to know about the Wiki. Please take your time reading as it is vital you read this information.

Writing on the Wiki[edit]

Coming soon.


As Pittsburghese is a non-standard dialect, it lacks any sort of formal orthography. Spelling is loosely based on pronunciation, and spellings that differ from Standard English are typically used when there is a difference in pronunciation. For certain words, such as jagger, there is an agreed upon spelling, while for others, such as jynt or iggle in Jynt Iggle, there are multiple variants. You are expected to follow such agreed upon spellings and use common variants if a word lacks an agreed upon spelling. However, you may use your own spellings as long as they are reasonable and generally in line with English orthography.

Here are some general rules for phonetic spelling in Pittsburghese:

  • the ai sound in words like "rail" and "tail" usually becomes e, so they become "rel" and "tel"
  • the al sound in words like "Allegheny" and "alligator" usually becomes el, so they become "Ellegheny" and "elligator"
  • the ee sound in words like "steel" and "really" usually becomes ih, so they become "still" and "rilly"
  • the i sound in words like "pile" and "tile" usually becomes ah, so they become "pahl" and "tahl"
  • the l sound in most words usually becomes vocalized, so well becomes "wew"
  • the o sound in words like "rob" and "pond" usually becomes aw, so they become "rawb" and "pawnd"
  • the o sound in words like "go" and "no" usually becomes fronted, so they become "goe" and "noe"
  • the oo sound in words like "fool" and "pool" becomes the u sound in full and pull before l, so they become homonyms with full and pull respectively
  • the ou sound in words like "hour" and "out" becomes ah. In words where the sound is at the end of the word, such as how and now, the ou sound may be retained
  • the th sound in words like "the" and "that" becomes d, so they become "da" and "dat", or it is removed entirely so "the" and "that" become "'e" and "'at"

Note that these rules do not apply to every possible word, so please follow them cautiously. If you are unsure about how a word should be spelled, do not be afraid to ask someone.


This section was taken from Western Pennsylvania English on Wikipedia, with some minor changes to reflect our own research.

A defining feature of Western Pennsylvania English is the cot–caught merger, in which /ɑː/ (as in ah) and /ɔː/ (as in aw) merges to a rounded vowel: [ɔː~ɒː]. As in most other American dialects, it occurs as well as the father–bother merger.[1][2][3] Therefore, cot and caught are both pronounced [kʰɔːt~kʰɒːt]; Don and dawn are both [dɔːn~dɒːn]. While the merger of the low back vowels is also widespread elsewhere in the United States, the rounded realizations of the merged vowel around [ɒː] is less common, except in Canada, California, India and Northeastern New England.[1][2]

The sound as in oh begins more fronted in the mouth, as in the American South or in Southern England. Therefore, go is pronounced [ɡɜʊ]. Similarly, /uː/ as in food and rude is fronted and often diphthongized, as in much of the American South, Midland, and West.

The diphthong , as in ow, is onophthongized to [aː] in some environments (sounding instead like ah), including before nasal consonants (downtown ['daːntaːn] and found [faːnd]), liquid consonants (fowl, hour) and obstruents (house [haːs], out, cloudy).[1][2][3] Sometimes the monophthongization does not occur, however, in word-final positions (how, now), and the diphthong then remains [aʊ].[4] That is one of the few features, if not the only one, restricted almost exclusively to western Pennsylvania in North America, but it can sometimes be found in other accents of the English-speaking world, such as Cockney and South African English.[1][2] The sound may be the result of contact from Slavic languages during the early 20th century.[2] Monopthongization also occurs for the sound , as in eye, before liquid consonants,[1][2][3][5] so that tile is pronounced [tʰɑːɫ]; pile is pronounced [pʰɑːɫ]; and iron is pronounced [ɑːɹn]. That phenomenon allows tire to merge with the sound of tar: [tʰɑːɹ].

An epenthetic (intruding) r sound may occur after vowels in a few words, such as water pronounced like warter [ˈwɔːɹtɚ], and wash like warsh [wɔːɹʃ].[1][2]

A number of vowel mergers occur uniquely in Western Pennsylvania English before the consonant l. The pair of vowels and ɪ may merge before the l consonant,[1][2][3][6] cause both steel and still to be pronounced as something like [stɪɫ]. Similarly, , , and ʊ may merge before /l/, so that pool, pull, and pole may merge to something like [pʰʊɫ]. On the /iːl/~/ɪl/ merger, Labov, Ash and Boberg (2006) note "the stereotype of merger of /ɪl ~ iːl/ is based only on a close approximation of some forms, and does not represent the underlying norms of the dialect."[7] The /iː/~/ɪ/ merger is found in western Pennsylvania,[1][2][3][6] as well as parts of the southern United States, including Alabama, Texas and the west (McElhinny 1999). On the other hand, the /uː/~/ʊ/ merger is consistently found only in western Pennsylvania. The /iː/~/ɪ/ merger towards [ɪ] may also appear before g: eagle then sounds to outsiders like iggle.[1][2][3] The vowel /ʌ/ (as in uh) before l, may lower into the vowel of the cot–caught merger mentioned above, so that mull can sound identical to mall/maul: [mɔːɫ].

L-vocalization is also common in the Western Pennsylvania dialect; an l then sounds like a /w/ or a cross between a vowel and a "dark" /l/ at the end of a syllable.[1][2][8] For example, well is pronounced as [wɛw]; milk as [mɪwk] or [mɛwk]; role as [ɹʊw]; and cold as [ˈkʰʊwd]. The phenomenon is also common in African-American English.

Western Pennsylvania English speakers may use falling intonation at the end of questions,[1][2][9] for example, in "Are you painting your garage?" (with pitch rising in intonation up to just before the last syllable and then falling precipitously).[9] Such speakers typically use falling pitch for yes-no questions for which they already are quite sure of the answer. A speaker uttering the above example is simply confirming what is already thought: yes, the person spoken to is painting his/her garage. It is most common in areas of heavy German settlement, especially southeastern Pennsylvania,[9] hence its nickname, the "Pennsylvania Dutch question", but it is also found elsewhere in Pennsylvania, including Pittsburgh[1][2][9] (Maxfield 1931; Layton 1999; Wisnosky 2003; Johnstone, Andrus and Danielson 2006). It is of German origin.[9]


Features commonly associated with the dialect[edit]

This section was taken from Western Pennsylvania English on Wikipedia, with some content added to reflect our own research.
  • All to mean all gone: When referring to consumable products, the word all has a secondary meaning: all gone. For example, the phrase the butter's all would be understood as "the butter is all gone." This likely derives from German.[10]
  • "Positive anymore": In addition to the normal negative use of anymore it can also, as in the greater Midland U.S. dialect, be used in a positive sense to mean "these days" or "nowadays".[11] An example is "I wear these shoes a lot anymore". While in Standard English anymore must be used as a negative polarity item (NPI), some speakers in Pittsburgh and throughout the Midland area do not have this restriction.[12] This is somewhat common in both the Midland regions (Montgomery 1989) and in northern Maryland (Frederick, Hagerstown, and Westminster), likely of Scots-Irish origin (Montgomery 1999).
  • Reversed usage of leave and let:[1][2][13] Examples of this include "Leave him go outside" and "Let the book on the table". Leave is used in some contexts in which, in standard English, let would be used; and vice versa. Used in Southwestern Pennsylvania and elsewhere, this is either Pennsylvania German or Scots-Irish.[13]
  • "Need, want, or like + past participle":[1][2][14] Examples of this include "The car needs washed", "The cat wants petted", and "Babies like cuddled". More common constructions are "The grass needs cutting" or "The grass needs to be cut" or "Babies like cuddling" or "Babies like to be cuddled"; "The car needs washing" or "The car needs to be washed"; and "The cat wants petting" or "The cat wants to be petted."
  • "Punctual whenever": "Whenever" is often used to mean "at the time that" (Montgomery 2001). An example is "My mother, whenever she passed away, she had pneumonia." A punctual descriptor refers to the use of the word for "a onetime momentary event rather than in its two common uses for a recurrent event or a conditional one".
  • -ing suffix replaced with -in:[15] The suffix -ing is typically replaced with -in. This usually only applies to verbs.

Features not commonly associated with the dialect[edit]

This section was made by Wiki contributors.
  • "Like" is used as a delayed filler and to put emphasis on a statement, e.g. "He was running fast, like" or "I was pissed off like".
  • -ly suffix can be replaced with -like or removed entirely.
  • "Those ones" can be used in place of "those."[16]
  • "Yet" is sometimes used in place of "still."[17] (Somewhat archaic)
  • "For to" is used to mean "in order to."[18] (Archaic)

Pronouns and demonstratives[edit]

  • "Them" is sometimes used in place of "those" as a demonstrative in both nominative and oblique constructions. Examples are "Them are the pants I want" and "Give me some of them crackers."
  • Oblique forms of the personal pronouns are used as nominative when more than one is used (cf. French moi et toi). For example, "Me and him are real good friends" instead of "He and I are really good friends."


  • The construction "don't...no" is used with transitive verbs to indicate the negative, e.g. "He don't know no better." This is commonly referred to as the double negative, and is either negative or emphatically negative, never positive. "None" is often used in place of "any," as in "I don't have none."
  • Use of nonstandard verb forms such as the past participle in place of the past simple,[15] e.g. replacing saw with seen and replacing were with was.
    • "Caughten" is used in place of "caught" as the past participle.
    • "Come" is used in place of "comes" and "came."
    • "Ent" is used in place of "end."
    • "Et" is used in place of "eaten."[15]
    • "Drug" is used in place of "dragged."[15]
    • "Got" is used in place of "have,"[15] e.g. "we got" instead of "we have got."
    • "Slown" is used in place of "slowed."
    • Verb forms for the verb "to lay" are used instead of forms of the verb "to lie." For example, "Lay down and hush."
  • Measurements such as "foot" and "mile" often retain their singular form even when used in the plural sense. For example, "That stick is 3 foot long", or "We need 6 foot of drywall". "Foot" in the singular is standard in UK English.


Main article: Pittsburghese Wiki:Dictionary

Pittsburghese, formally known as Western Pennsylvania English or Pittsburgh English among linguists, is a distinct dialect of American English. As such, it is not simply standard English with an accent. It has its own unique words and phrases. Pittsburghese Wiki prohibits the use of standard English, unless it is for informational articles or sections such as this, and wholeheartedly encourages the use of dialectal terms. The whole point of this Wiki project is to create an encyclopedia in the Pittsburghese dialect, not standard English, there is already a Wikipedia for that. Here is a list of some dialectal terms using the Wiki's orthography:

  • babushka - (n.) headscarf[19]
  • buggy - (n.) shopping cart[20]
    • baby buggy - (n.) baby carriage
  • da 'Burgh - (n.) Pittsburgh[2]
  • berm - (n.) edge of the road, curb: an accepted alternative to "shoulder of the road"
  • carbon oil - (n.; archaic) kerosene[21]
  • chipped ham - (n.) very thinly sliced chopped ham loaf for sandwiches[1][2] (from a local brand name)
  • cupboard - (n.; archaic) closet[15]
  • crud - (n.) curd
    • crudd(l)ed melk - (n.) cottage cheese[22][23]
  • diamon(d) - (n.; archaic) town square[15]
  • dippy - (adj.) appropriate for dipping into, such as gravy, coffee, egg yolks, etc.[24]
  • dawll baby - (n.) complimentary term for an attractively childlike girl or woman (reversal of "baby doll")
  • drooth - (n.) drought[25]
  • dupa - (n.) parental term for a child's backside[26]
  • grinnie - (n.) chipmunk[27]
  • gumban(d) - (n.) rubber band;[1][2][24] elastic fastener[15]
  • gutchies; or undergutchies (n.) term used to describe undergarments of any variety[15]
  • hap - (n.) comfort; or, comforter or quilt[22][28]
  • jag - (v.) to prick, stab, or jab;[29] to tease[30]
    • jagger - (n./adj.) any small, sharp-pointed object or implement, usually thorns[29]
    • jaggerbush - (n.) briar[15]
    • jagawff - (n.) stupid, inept, irritating, or contemptible person[15]
    • jag awff - (v.) to annoy, irritate, play tricks on; to disparage; to reject[25]
  • jimmies - (n.) sprinkles
  • jumbo - (n.) bologna[15]
  • Kennywood's open - idiom used to inform someone that their fly is open ("Kennywood" referring to the Kennywood amusement park in West Mifflin, Pennsylvania)
  • Klondike - (n.) any kind of ice cream bar[15] (from a local brand name)
  • kolbawssi; kilbawssi - (n.) variant pronunciation of kielbasa[29]
  • monkey bawll - (n.) fruit of the Maclura pomifera or monkey ball tree[31]
  • n'at, an 'at - (general extender) and that[32][33][1][2]
  • neb - (v.) to pry into a conversation or argument intrusively or impertinently[29] (of Scots origin)
    • neb aht - (v.) to mind one's own business
    • neb-nose or nebby-nose (vulgar form: nebshit) - (n.) the kind of person who is always poking into people's affairs;[29] inquisitive person[15]
    • nebby - (adj.) given to prying into the affairs of others;[1][2][32] inquisitive[15]
  • redd up - (v.) to clean up, tidy up[34][35][36][37]
    • redd-up - (n.) cleanup
  • reveren(d) - (adj.; archaic) extreme;[15] extraordinary, powerful[25]
  • slippy - (adj.) slippery[1][2]
  • spicket - (n.) alternate pronunciation of spigot, specifically an outdoor faucet used to connect to a garden hose[38]
  • still - (n.) steel[15]
  • tossle cap - (n.) knit hat designed to provide warmth in cold weather
  • trick - (n.) a job shift (as used in West-Central Pennsylvania)
  • ungion snow - (n.; archaic) early spring snow[15] (Western and south central PA; of Pennsylvania German origin[39])
  • yins, yinz, yunz, you'uns, or youns - (pronoun) plural of you (can also mean your)
    • yinz guys - (pronoun) plural of you (a relatively new term, from a combination of you guys and yinz)
    • yinzer - (n.) a resident of Pittsburgh, a native speaker of Pittsburghese


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 Johnstone, Barbara (2004). ""Pittsburghese" Online: Vernacular Norming in Conversation". American Speech 79 (2): 115–145. doi:10.1215/00031283-79-2-115. 
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18 2.19 2.20 Johnstone, Barbara (2002). ""Dahntahn" Pittsburgh: Monophthongal /aw/ and Representations of Localness in Southwestern Pennsylvania". American Speech 77 (2): 148–166. doi:10.1215/00031283-77-2-148. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Gagnon, C. L. (1999). Language attitudes in Pittsburgh: 'Pittsburghese' vs. standard English. Master's thesis. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh. 
  4. Kortmann, Bernd and Edgar W. Schneider, eds. (2004). A Handbook of Varieties of English, Volume 1: Phonology. De Gruyter. ISBN 978-3-11-017532-5. 
  5. Hankey, Clyde T. (1965). "Miscellany: 'tiger,' 'tagger,' and [aɪ] in western Pennsylvania". American Speech 40 (3): 226–229. doi:10.2307/454074. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 Brown, C (1982). A search for sound change: A look at the lowering of tense vowels before liquids in the Pittsburgh area. Master's thesis.. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh. 
  7. Template:Harvcoltxt
  8. Hankey, Clyde T. (1972). Notes on west Penn-Ohio phonology. In: Studies in Linguistics in Honor of Raven I. McDavid, Jr., ed. by L.M. Davis. University of Alabama Press, 49–61. ISBN 978-0-8173-0010-4. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 Fasold, Ralph W. (1980). "The conversational function of Pennsylvania Dutch intonation". Paper Presented at New Ways of Analyzing Variation (NWAVE IX) at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI. 
  10. Metcalf, Allan (2000). How We Talk: American Regional English Today. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 92. ISBN 978-0-618-04362-0. 
  11. Montgomery 1989; McElhinny 1999; Montgomery 1999
  12. Robert P. Marzec (30 December 2004). The Mid-Atlantic Region. Greenwood Publishing Group, 271. ISBN 978-0-313-32954-8. 
  13. 13.0 13.1 Adams, Michael (2003). "Lexical Doppelgängers". Journal of English Linguistics 28 (3): 295–310. doi:10.1177/00754240022005054. 
  14. Still, Brian (15 October 2010). Usability of Complex Information Systems: Evaluation of User Interaction. CRC Press, 57. ISBN 978-1-4398-2894-6. 
  15. 15.00 15.01 15.02 15.03 15.04 15.05 15.06 15.07 15.08 15.09 15.10 15.11 15.12 15.13 15.14 15.15 15.16 15.17 Johnstone, Barbara (2013). Speaking Pittsburghese: The Story of a Dialect. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-199-94568-9. 
  16. "one - From Ulster to America".
  17. "Using "yet" in place of "still" in affirmative statements".
  18. Maxfield, E. K. (1931). "The Speech of South-Western Pennsylvania". American Speech 7 (1): 18–20. doi:10.2307/451308. 
  19. Cassidy, F. G., Ed. (1985). Dictionary of American Regional English, Vol. I: A-C. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-20511-6. 
  20. Kurath (1949) mentions that speakers in a large portion of Pennsylvania use the term, but that it is "very common in the Pittsburgh area[,]...[in] the adjoining counties of Ohio and on the lower Kanawha"
  21. (Kurath 1949); this may be heard from the western edge of the Alleghenies to beyond the Ohio line
  22. 22.0 22.1 Crozier, Alan (1984). "The Scotch-Irish influence on American English". American Speech 59 (4): 310–331. doi:10.2307/454783. 
  23. Kurath (1949) claims these forms are used from the western edge of the Alleghenies to beyond the Ohio line; and Crozier claims that they are restricted to southwestern Pennsylvania, from Scots-Irish English origins.
  24. 24.0 24.1 Cassidy, F. G. and. J.H. Hall., Eds. (1991). Dictionary of American Regional English, Vol. II: D-H.. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-20512-3. 
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 Johnstone, Barbara (2015). Pittsburgh Speech and Pittsburghese. Walter de Gruyter GmbH. ISBN 978-1-614-51178-6. 
  26. "Pittsburghese: nouns".
  27. Kurath 1949): This term is used from the western edge of the Alleghenies to beyond the Ohio line.
  28. This can mean "comfort", as in "He's been in poor hap since his wife died" (Maxfield 1931), or "comforter or quilt," as in "It was cold last night but that hap kept me warm." Hap is used for "comfort" in western Pennsylvania (Maxfield 1931); and a "quilt" is known as a hap only in western Pennsylvania.
  29. 29.0 29.1 29.2 29.3 29.4 Cassidy, F. G. and J. H. Hall, Eds. (1996). Dictionary of American Regional English, Volume III: I-O. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-20519-2. 
  30. Johnstone, Andrus and Danielson 2006
  31. Parker, Jeanie (September 2, 2000). "Gardening: The fruit of the Osage orange tree has many odd reputed uses". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. PG Publishing.
  32. 32.0 32.1 McElhinny 1999; Wisnosky 2003; Johnstone, Andrus and Danielson 2006
  33. The distribution of n'at is Southwestern Pennsylvania, possibly Scots-Irish. Macaulay (1995) finds it in the regular speech and narratives of Scottish coal miners in Glasgow, a principal area from which Scottish settlers emigrated to Northern Ireland, and from there, to the American colonies.
  34. Hall, J. H., Ed. (2002). Dictionary of American Regional English, Volume IV: P-Sk. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-00884-7. 
  35. Dressman, Michael R. (1979). "Redd up". American Speech 54 (2): 141–145. doi:10.2307/455213. 
  36. Also see McElhinny (1999); Johnstone, Andrus and Danielson (2006).
  37. Editors of the American Heritage Dictionaries (2006). The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 978-0-618-70173-5. 
  38. "Definition of SPICKET".
  39. "What Is An Onion Snow?".