Sunday, March 31, 2019

What the H

Yesterday's post led off with an image of the Pittsburg Press, which made me curious about how the editor, publisher, and countless copy editors in the Steel City newspaper could not have known how to spell the name of their own hometown. I thought perhaps it was some misguided effort to deGermanify the name when the U.S. entered the Great War.
"Pittsburgh, PA: The Steel City Once-overed" by Bob Bell in Cartoons Magazine, June, 1919
It turns out that the "burgh" is Scottish, not German, and the idea of dropping the "h" came 23 years before the war. In 1891, the United States Board on Geographic Names decided that any "burgh" ought to drop the "h" to conform with all the other "burgs" around the country. The Pittsburg Press was already using the aitchless spelling; the Pittsburg Leader and Pittsburg Dispatch also conformed with the official federal standard. The Pittsburgh Sun, Pittsburgh Gazette Times, Pittsburgh Post and Pittsburgh Chronicle Telegraph did not.

The Board on Geographic Names reversed its decision twenty years later under pressure from Senator George Oliver (R-PA). Why the Press didn't correct their flag until after yet another ten years, in August, 1921, I have no idea.

No comments:

Post a Comment