Lecture to look at media technology and the ‘Pittsburghese’ dialect

Barbara Johnstone, a professor of rhetoric and linguistics at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University, will look at media technology, metalinguistics and the “Pittsburghese” dialect at an upcoming lecture through the Graduate Program in Linguistics & Applied Linguistics in York’s Department of Languages, Literatures & Linguistics (DLLL).

“Media Technology, Metalinguistic Expertise and the Enregisterment of Pittsburghese” will take place Thursday, April 1, from 5 to 6pm in the Executive Learning Centre, X106 Seymour Schulich Building, Keele campus. A reception will follow the lecture.

Right: Barbara Johnstone

Johnstone will explore the roles that newspapers, a Web site, an online discussion board and a Wikipedia entry have had in creating the history of the local dialect of Pittsburgh known as Pittsburghese. “Drawing on [Asif] Agha’s 2003 work on ‘enregistration’, I am studying how a set of linguistic forms that can be heard in southwestern Pennsylvania have come to be thought of as unique to the Pittsburgh area and tightly linked to local identity,” says Johnstone.

“In this presentation, I focus on historical shifts in sources of expertise about local speech. I trace how increasingly interactive communication media have helped reallocate rights to describe and evaluate local speech and made it possible to contest these rights in new ways, and I suggest that these changes have implications for the trajectory of the dialect and its study.”

For more information, contact Rose Frezza-Edgecombe, graduate program assistant in the DLLL at gradling@yorku.ca.