Picksboiger cartoons

Just scanned in an editorial cartoon (by Rob Rogers of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) on the plight of the US Postal Service — no particular linguistic relevance — and in checking up on Rogers, I came across a recent cartoon featuring Pittsburgher English (or at least the local stereotype of it).

The USPS cartoon:

and the one with the local dialect features, in the third panel:

Jimmy Krenn is a local personality; from his website, with unsurprising self-promotion:

Jimmy Krenn rose from the ranks of stand-up comedians to become Pittsburgh’s premier comedian and broadcast personality. Voted 14 times as the Top Entertainer in the City by Pittsburgh Magazine, Jimmy is recognized throughout Western Pennsylvania as the host of Pittsburgh’s top-rated morning show on 102.5 WDVE-FM. He also makes frequent television appearances and does several Standing Room only concert performances yearly.

(Stanley P. Kachowski is a Krenn character.)

Then there are the dialect features, described in summary in the Wikipedia entry:

Pittsburgh English, popularly known by outsiders as Pittsburghese, is the traditional dialect of American English spoken by many residents of Pittsburgh and parts of surrounding Western Pennsylvania in the United States, a group referred to by locals and others as Yinzers.

Many of the sounds and words found in the speech of Pittsburghers are popularly thought to be unique to the city. This is reflected in the term “Pittsburghese,” the putative sum of these features in the form of a dialect. However, few of these features are restricted solely to Pittsburgh or the Pittsburgh metropolitan area. Instead, many of them are found throughout southwestern Pennsylvania, the Midland dialect region, or even large parts of the United States (Wisnosky 2003). Perhaps the only feature whose distribution is restricted almost exclusively to the Pittsburgh metropolitan area is /aw/ monophthongization [it’s also found in Pennsylvania Dutch English]. This means that words such as house, down, found, sauerkraut, or Donnie Iris are sometimes pronounced with an “ah” sound instead of the more standard pronunciation of “ow”, rendering pronunciations such as ‘hahs’ ‘dahn’ ‘fahnd’, ‘sahrkraht’ or ‘Dahnie Iris’.

The language of the early Scots-Irish settlers had the greatest influence on the speech of southwestern and western Pennsylvania. This influence is reflected mainly in the retention of certain lexical items (cruds or cruddled milk (cottage cheese), hap (comforter), jag (to tease or annoy), jag around (to fool around or act foolishly), jagger (a thorn or burr), jagoff (an annoying or irritating person), neb/nebby/neb-nose (nosy), redd up (to clean), slippy (slippery), yinz/yunz/you’uns (second-person plural), “punctual” whenever and possibly “positive” anymore and reversed usage of leave and let, but also in the like, need, or want + past participle grammatical constructions i.e. ‘the yard needs mowed’ and the discourse marker ’n’at i.e. ‘and so forth/etc.’ e.g. ‘The yard n’at needs mowed,’ meaning ‘the yard and surrounding areas’. According to a study based only on pronunciation, the dialect region of western Pennsylvania ranges north to Erie, Pennsylvania, west to Youngstown, Ohio, south to Clarksburg, West Virginia, and east to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (Labov, Ash and Boberg 2005), but different features may be differently distributed.

There’s quite a literature, both scholarly and popular, on the variety.

One Response to “Picksboiger cartoons”

  1. Dialect adventures « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] in the strip. (For a larger list of features, see my posting on “Picksboiger cartoons”, here.) One — the item neb, nebby, or nebby-nose ‘nosy’ — is strictly linguistic, […]

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