Top Views of 2014: Is the Pittsburgh Accent Really Ugliest in America?

Dec 22, 2014

How good is your Pittsburghese?
Credit Shaun / Flickr

As the year comes to a close, we’re looking back on 2014 and airing some of the Essential Pittsburgh stories that were most popular on our website, wesa.fm.

To hear the full-length audio for this story, take a look at the original web post.

Back in October some folks weren’t quite sure what to make of Pittsburgh’s ascension -- or, descension -- to the final four in America’s ugliest accent tournament, created by the website Gawker. Was this honor a source of pride or a put-down to a certain part of our citizenry?

Scott Kiesling, a University of Pittsburgh linguistics professor and author of “Dude,” a book about American speech, joined us to discuss the Pittsburgh accent and why describing an accent as “ugly” might be an offense to those who speak “Pittsburghese.”

“We have, like, a stereotype of the person who is the most “Pittsburghese” … and there are certain aspects of that person in terms of intelligence, in terms of emotionality, that people have in mind very often, and they tend to share those ideas across people who are evaluating the accent.”