PEE-cahn. Peh-CAHN. CYOO-pon. COO-pon.

(I am LOVING Wayno’s illustrations of me. Cannot wait for April’s.)

As you know if you follow me on Twitter, I’ve been recently obsessed with the correct pronunciation of certain words and also how we identify certain items here in Pittsburgh.

“Root” or “rout” when pronouncing route?

Spigot or spicket?

Crick or creek?

Sub or hoagie?

Buggy or shopping cart?

CAR-a-mel or CARE-a-mel, or even car-mll?

I lucked out when my friend Goob directed me to a study done by a former Burgher, Dr. Bert Vaux who taught at Harvard and who now teaches at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. He ran a dialect study while at Harvard and was good enough to send me all of the anonymized data for all 100+ questions on the survey. I got to work and learned how Pittsburgh compares to the rest of the country in various phrases, words, and pronunciations.

The results are fun and eye-opening and I’m going to share more of them on my Pittsburgh Magazine blog this week, since I couldn’t fit them all into one column. In the meantime, go have a read! Here’s a snippet:

Coupon: Fifty-seven percent of us say “coop-on,” and 42 percent of us use “cyoo-pons.” Contrast that with the whole country, where the clear winner is “coopon” (67 percent). Then there were eight ’Burghers (1 percent) who indicated they have “another” way of saying it. I’m guessing “discounted goods vouchers.” UNFOLLOW.

Crayon: Most Pittsburghers favor the “cray-awn” pronunciation (56 percent), followed by “cray-ahn” (32 percent), which is actually how the majority of U.S. citizens say it (49 percent). I am one of the 10 percent of ’Burghers who was raised using “crans” because that’s how Mister Rogers said it!

Go read about spigots versus spickets and PLEASE go read what the rest of the country calls a traffic jam caused by rubbernecking and how they refer to it when the sun is shining while it’s raining.

You’ll never guess in a million years.


  1. Cassie
    February 21, 2012 2:22 pm

    Gawk Block? Was someone denied some fun in the car?

  2. Different Brian
    February 21, 2012 2:42 pm

    I have yet to extract any lifeless bodies from any bodies of water, so I’m not quite sure how I’d answer that one.

    And who exactly says that enough they use two terms interchangeably? Shouldn’t they be put under constant surveillance? If not just arrested outright?

  3. PG Wodehouse
    February 21, 2012 3:40 pm

    So, Pen’s Fan wins???

  4. bluzdude
    February 21, 2012 4:40 pm

    I don’t use spicket OR spigot… I call it a faucet. (out of affection for Farrah, of course.)

  5. empirechick
    February 21, 2012 5:43 pm

    The hose connection outside the house is a spicket (spelled spigot), inside is a facuet. Same thing with the little stream that runs by my house – it’s a crick, but if I have to spell it, it’s creek.

    And I had no idea there was a word for raining while sunny. Learn something new every day!

  6. aunt penny
    February 22, 2012 12:21 am

    larry says it’s coo-pins.

  7. Donncha
    February 22, 2012 1:19 am

    In some parts it’s even said you’ns. I was in my teens before I realized “spicket” and “crick” were not standard pronunciation. Every one of these is a small and vanishing treasure we’re going to miss as 24/7 media eradicates the regional accent and vernacular.

  8. rmd
    February 22, 2012 12:05 pm

    I have always been of the opinion that there is a distinct different between a crick and a creek. A creek is a pleasant, flowing body of water that is suitable to appear in a romantic movie. It is beside a creek where one would find an actor preparing a lovely picnic for the love of his life. Whereas a crick is a body of water with personality, it’s where kids go to look under rocks for crayfish, teenagers go to drink and be rowdy and drunken hookups happen. A creek is prim and proper, while a crick is your redneck cousin duck taping a lawn chair to an inner tube.
    If a creek were a bottle of Dom Perignon, a crick would be MD 20/20, Ripple, Thunderbird or any other wine with a twist off cap.

  9. toni
    February 22, 2012 12:28 pm

    I go the cray-ins root. :P

  10. Mahsdad
    February 23, 2012 8:48 pm

    For me pronouncing ROUTE always depended on how many digits were in the number of said route.

    Rt 19 – is ROOT 19
    Rt 8 – is RAWT 8

    But maybe that’s just me. A small stream however will always be a Crick, much to the amusement
    of my non-Burgher wife.