Regional Speech Dialects Soon to Disappear?

Article ID: 576767

Released: 12-May-2011 2:20 PM EDT

Source Newsroom: Indiana University of Pennsylvania

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Newswise — INDIANA, Pa. -- According to an Indiana University of Pennsylvania speech language pathologist, the southern drawl and Pittsburgh’s famous “yunz” may, very soon, be gone.

IUP speech language professor Dr. Shari Robertson maintains that as time marches on, dialects will homogenize. She points out that in the eastern United States, there are many dialects, but in the West, the dialectical maps are large, covering vast amounts of geography. She said there is not a vast difference between how people in Montana speak compared to how people in Wyoming speak.

Dr. Robertson believes the dialects in Pennsylvania formed largely because of the region’s topography: Immigrants tended to travel to the western part of the state to seek opportunity and then settled atop ridges and into deep valleys, where versions of American English developed and stuck—like a jagger (that’s Western Pennsylvanian for thorn).

“There’s been quite a bit of research on this. Many of the people who originally settled here were not literate. So all language was passed on verbally, and there was not a written standard to go back to. And so that’s why some of the interesting pronunciations have stayed—because language was passed on orally,” Robertson said.

“By the time they got to the West, people were pretty melted in the melting pot,” she continued. “Some researchers will tell you that all dialects are disappearing. Others will tell you that people hold onto them out of pride. Television, radio, all of the communications we have now are now mostly oral, so we hear it and it’s causing some change. Mostly mobility and travel are causing change.”

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