Pittsburgh adult chatrooms
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.
As Johnstone writes, "Due to a particular set of geographical, economic, linguistic and ideological circumstances, people in Pittsburgh grabbed onto language as a way of defining themselves." In Johnstone's telling, those circumstances included both the collapse of the steel industry and an event just prior to it: the early-1980s publication of Sam Mc Cool's New Pittsburghese.
Mc Cool's book — and later, Internet chatrooms that allowed Pittsburghers to share nostalgia over speech patterns — helped departing Pittsburghers carry a bit of home with them as they searched for jobs elsewhere.
(Many locals, Johnstone writes, literally can't hear the difference between "hahs" and "house.") But whether you speak the accent well, or badly, Johnstone argues, you are part of a broader story: the tale of how Pittsburghers have made a "hahs" into a home.
But don't expect to use her book Speaking Pittsburghese: The story of a dialect as a phrasebook for negotiating the Strip District on a Saturday morning.
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.
So is the moment that Pittsburghers became aware of their accent also the moment where they were destined to lose it?
The process of losing it is in place, though it doesn't mean you yourself will lose it.