Date of Original Version

January 2011



Abstract or Description

In recent work I have been exploring how one set of linguistic forms has become enregistered as the dialect known as “Pittsburghese” ( Johnstone 2007a; 2007b; 2009; Johnstone, Andrus, and Danielson 2006). In this paper I analyze dialect enregistration in highly self-conscious performances of Pittsburgh speech and social identity. My data consists of three comedy sketches performed by the cast of WDVE radio’s “’DVE Morning Show.” One, called “Mother”, alternates lines of a somewhat parodically sentimental song about the singer’s mother with spoken-word illustrations by a “mother” character who uses elements of Pittsburgh-sounding speech. The second is an advertisement for a fictional clothing store called Pants N Nat that features several Pittsburgh-sounding characters played by radio personnel, as well as guest performances, as themselves, by two well-known Pittsburghers, both of whom have local accents. The third is a “Commentary” performed by Jim Krenn, the Morning Show’s star performer, playing the fictional WDVE Station Manager Stanley P. Kachowski. I ask two questions about these sketches. First, I ask whether the process of dialect enregisterment works differently in these high performances than it does in other, less self-conscious genres I have explored. What, for example, does the fact that the sketches are meant to be funny do to shape the way links between linguistic form and social meaning are forged? How does “referee design” (Bell 1984; 2001) in media discourse like this shape the enregisterment process? Second, I ask exactly what social identity or identities are being evoked in each sketch.


This is a pre-publication version of the article. There may have been changes between this and the published version. and the page numbers in this version are not the final page numbers. To see the published version, please access the Journal of Sociolinguistic in your university library or online.


Published In

Journal of sociolinguistics, 657-679.