Guest Blogs

Accents, Dialects, and Speech Therapy – Part 3 {Guest Blogger}

By February 17, 2016 One Comment

We are continuing our series on accents, dialects, and speech therapy with another guest blogger.  I am excited to share the following post with you written by Melanie from The Speech Place.

I was raised in the Ohio Valley region about an hour west of Pittsburgh, PA. I have found over the years that my accent is a mixture of Pittsburghese and Ohio Valley, Midwest. Of course like most people I didn’t consider myself to have an accent. It wasn’t until I started grad school in an online program at California State University, Northridge that it was pointed out to me. Previously I had not communicated that much with others outside of my region. 

After I graduated with my bachelor’s degree, I moved about 4 hours east to another part of West Virginia. This region, eastern panhandle, borders Maryland and Virginia which strongly influences the dialect here. I remember when I first met my husband and he left a message on my answering machine I played it for my friends because I thought he had a heavy southern accent. I don’t really hear it now but in the beginning it was adorable.

To more of the locals around here I have an accent or a different vocabulary from them. One of the main differences is that a carbonated beverage to me is “pop” and here it is “soda”. I may say that “my hair needs cuts” but they say “I need a haircut”. The Pittsburghese dialect adds need, want, or like + past participle to many sentences for example “the baby needs fed” instead of “the baby is hungry”. 
The most distinctive characteristic of Pittsburghese is the use of the pronoun “yinz”. I do not use this but I have many relatives that do.  I usually address a group of people informally as “you guys” The best example of Pittsbughese can be viewed on Pittsburgh Dad videos on YouTube. He is a local celebrity that clearly demonstrates the difference in vocabulary and dialect. They are very funny.
During speech therapy I need to consider the differences between my accent or vocabulary and my students. When I am producing a sentence they may not understand my vocabulary because it is different then what they have learned. I use it as a teaching lesson when it comes up to expose them to more synonyms of words. Here are some more accent/dialect differences from where I grew up to where I live now. 
Where I grew up…
Where I live now…
Tennis shoes
Shopping Cart/Stroller
Aunt pronounced “ant”
Creek pronounced “crik”
Wash pronounced “worsh”
Crayon pronounced “crown”
Doll baby
Baby doll
Since I moved to a new region to practice speech-language pathology there are have been a few examples of when my accent/dialect interfered with my job. My second year as an SLP I was working with a group of students with autism in a following directions activity. The directions were to draw 2 wavy lines. After a couple minutes one student was still working very hard on her lines. When I asked her what she was drawing she said “2 wavy lions”. It was a pretty good drawing of the lions and I didn’t have the heart to tell her she was wrong.
A few years ago I was giving the Test of Auditory Processing to a student. She was scoring in the average to above average range on all subtests. When we got to the segmenting sounds section she only got the first few right and then failed the next several ending the section. It didn’t seem to be an accurate since she had completed all of the others so well. I asked the other therapist in my building to give the student this subtest over. She did and the student scored in the average range. I noted the difference of the results in the report. Even though the other SLP and I grew up both an hour outside of Pittsburgh in opposite directions, her dialect was different than mine.
Since my accent/dialect is not much different than others in the region where I work there has not been many issues. I know that if I moved to the Boston region my years of experience correcting vocalic /r/ sounds would not be applied since their dialect is to not pronounce the vocalic /r/ in many words. 
Thank you to Kristin at Talkin’ With Twang for allowing me to be a part of her series Accents, Dialects, and Speech Therapy. It has been a lot of fun!

Thank you, Melanie, for sharing with us!  To read the previous posts in this series click on the following links:
Part 1 click HERE
Part 2 click HERE
Click HERE for the conclusion of the series and a GIVEAWAY!


Author Kristin

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