When linguists study language change, we often concentrate on the pronunciation of sounds.

For example, the sounds "aaw" (in words like Mom or lawn) and "aw" (in words like town or out), the "long o" sound in words like coat or home, the "long e" sound in words like steel or meal, the "long i" sound in words like file or fire, and the "l" in words like school,
people, or dollar are pronounced differently by different people in the Pittsburgh area. In each case, one way of pronouncing the sound is more local and another way sounds more
like people from elsewhere. If we found that older people were using the more "local" pronunciations while younger
people were using the more "national" pronunciations, we might guess that the local accent was on its way out.

But there may be other patterns, too.

Do males pronounce these sounds differently than females?
Does people's occupation seem to make a difference?

These seven Pittsburghers are all reading the same passage, "Donald McMunn."
As you compare their accents, listen for these words:

• the "aaw" sound in Donald, modern, crops, pots, odd, modern, dawn, trough, long
• the "aw" sound in pound, down, southwest
• the "long o " sound in clothes, sold, home, olden, coal, smoke, showed, old-fashioned, cold
• the "long e" sound in eagle, steel, fields, wheel
• the "long i" sound in miles, whiled
• the "l" sound in cattle, alfalfa, squirrel, eagle, olden, adults, old-fashioned, filled, wheel,
while, Bible, shawls, cold

Also pay attention to the words Allegheny, washing, couldn't, didn't, color, strength and length.
Are there more and less Western-Pennsylvania ways of saying these words?

Ruth S.
Born in 1924, recorded in 2003. Homemaker

Bob G.
Born in 1938, recorded in 2003.
Retired sanitation worker.

Dennis C.
Born in 1950, recorded in 2003.
Inventory manager.

Linda E.
Born in 1955, recorded in 2003. Shopkeeper.

Sherri T.
Born in 1967, recorded in 2003.

John G.
Born in 1978, recorded in 2004. Journalist.

Jason E.
Born in 1986, recorded in 2003.
High school senior
Donald McMunn
Donald McMunn grew up along the Allegheny River before there were modern appliances for things like washing clothes. They raised a few cattle, kept chickens and ducks for the good eggs, and grew crops like alfalfa that they sold for a few cents a pound. They hunted for muskrat, deer, and squirrel for the meat and the skins. Although their home was just a few miles from Pittsburgh as the eagle flies, it could have been the olden days there. Many adults couldn't read or write, and children didn't always know too much, either. Don's family would wash their pots and pans in the nearby stream, despite the fact that the water had an odd yellow color because of the coal mines upstream. Down the river to the southwest, smoke and flames from the stacks of the steel mills showed the strength of modern-day industry, but Don and his family lived in an old-fashioned way, getting up at dawn to walk the length of their hillside fields, making sure the cows' water troughs were filled. After a long day behind a plow or a spinning wheel, they whiled away the time at home. They took pleasure in singing, mostly hymns based on the Bible, while Don's wife hemmed old clothes and crocheted shawls, protecting herself from the cold.

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