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16-Jun-2019 20:18

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Actually, the most famous person in my field has studied Philadelphia.But he's not interested in the dialect as a cultural artifact in the same way — and it isn't a cultural artifact there the same way. I think part of it has to do with Pittsburgh's lack of self-confidence.There wasn't anything outside of steel — no one had really thought about the city in any other kind of way [until the industry collapsed].And as part of the lead-up to that exodus, Sam Mc Cool wrote that book, which had a big influence. It's not the same kind of representation of streetcars and city chicken — the Pittsburgh that was disappearing even in the 1950s.Published by Oxford University Press and currently available on amazon.com, Speaking Pittsburghese is both academic and accessible.It charts the unlikely story of a city whose residents went from barely recognizing they had an accent to celebrating it as a touchstone of their identity.During the G-20, people who were serving as hosts were instructed not to speak Pittsburghese. Globalization has been going on here forever: The fact that the Scots-Irish came here in the first place was globalization.And they didn't even know what they were being asked not to do. But there's that famous quote from sociologist Anthony Giddens: Globalization unites as it divides, and divides as it unites.

I've often felt that one of Pittsburgh's most notable quirks is how much pride it takes in its own quirkiness. Do we have not just a different way of talking, but of talking about how we talk? But there's a lot more consciousness of it, and it came a lot earlier.

This is really objectionable." I just say, "I'm an ethnographer; I'm a describer of the culture." And people are not offended by this.

I think people can do this lovingly, and I think a lot of the hipster stuff is kind of loving. The Pittsburgh accent seems more popular than ever, even as the city's local working-class identity is dwindling.

People get thrown together with people who aren't like them, and you talk more like the other person, because you want to be understood.

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But at the same time, you're drawn to notice what is different. Kids go to college and automatically accommodate their speech to other people — at exactly the same time they are talking about how they talk differently from each other.Philadelphia, there's a very distinct accent there, but it's never become part of the local identity in this way.

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