Jim Quinn’s 1997 “Phillyspeak” is an amusing “guide to Philadelphia English” by the author of the immortal American Tongue and Cheek: A Populist Guide to Our Language, which is such a powerful and irrefutable blast at prescriptivist poppycock I once bought a bunch of copies for $1 each and handed them out to people who I felt might benefit (it actually turned jamessal into the doughty descriptivist he is today!). I was given the link by a proud Philadelphian who gave it her cautious stamp of approval. Here’s the start:
For some reason WHYY’s Morning Edition keeps changing the people who read the traffic tie-up reports on Shadow Traffic. And for some reason, none are native Philadelphians anymore. So I have to start my day without the hero who used to warn usabout gaper delays “caused by an overturned tractor trailer on the Wall Women Bridge.”
“Wall Women” — what a superb and bizarre way to pronounce the name of America’s greatest male poet of the 19th century, Walt Whitman! Nobody else says it that way, and no true Philadelphian can say it any other way.
No wonder I love, and proudly speak, Philly’s dialect. Where else can you tell somebody “I hate our winners,” and know they’ll understand you mean, not “I hate the Flyers” (the closest we come to a championship team), but “I hate the weather in January”? Where else — this is one of my favorites — can a man named Ian and a woman named Ann go through life hearing their names pronounced exactly the same way?
I like dialect pride, especially when expressed with such pungency. (Thanks, des!)