Ohio vs. Pennsylvania

Dave Yochum

Students cite accents and football as biggest differences between the two states

Ohioans and Pennsylvanians are different.

Very different.

But could the perceived differences between the people of the Buckeye and Keystone States really be differences, or striking similarities?

The timeless rivalry between home-grown Ohioans and out-of-state Pennsylvanians sharing Kent State’s campus has been well documented over the years. Generations of students have come and gone, but strong philosophical state differences remain intact.

There are heartfelt arguments between the two states: Browns or Steelers? Lemieux or LeBron? Small towns or steel cities? Hills or flats? Midwest accents or Pennsylvania Dutch?

As many students can attest, when it comes to debating Ohio and Pennsylvania, natives simply just don’t seem to agree on a lot of things.

“What is there to like about Ohio?” asks junior Ellwood City, Pa., native Jason Balla.

“Ohio and Kent are just so plain and full of nothing to me. But one thing is always the same here – no matter how bad the Browns are, they are still the best team to people from Ohio.”

Whether or not Ohio is dull may just be one Pennsylvanian’s opinion; however, numerous daily disputes revolve around pride and home-state supremacy in Kent. Debates like whether Ohioans or Pennsylvanians have the strange accent and, of course, the aforementioned great football debate are just two key issues taken up by those “repping” their hometowns.

“When I first got here I got annoyed by the accents and how everyone from Ohio says I have one, but I don’t!” said junior Jeanette Kletzli from Moon Township, Pa.

“The people here are the ones who talk weird. That Cleveland accent with the ‘a”s replacing the ‘o”s, it’s just so different.”

Darren Ball, a junior from Mt. Gilead, Ohio, agrees with Kletzli about accents, only he thinks it’s the Pennsylvania students who have the atypical tongue.

“I really don’t know how to explain a Pennsylvania accent. PA people stress different parts of words than Ohioans do, so when you talk to a PA person it’s hard to understand if they are asking a question, or making a statement based on their stress patterns,” Ball said.

To Ball, accents are more of an annoyance than anything when dealing with Pennsylvanians. In the mind of this Cleveland Browns fan, there is a bigger issue to tackle.

“Honestly though, accents aside, the only thing I care about regarding PA is the Browns versus the Steelers. I think that’s the whole dilemma between Ohio and Pennsylvania. It’s not about people; it’s about a longstanding war between two teams in close proximity that constantly battle it out.”

Ball explained, “No matter where you’re from in PA, a Browns fan automatically assumes you’re a Steelers fan and doesn’t like you.”

As the underlying cause of state-to-state tension, professional football may very well take the blame for starting Monday morning arguments and state hating. But as Steven Davic, a junior Kent native and Pennsylvania fan, pointed out, the very things that separate Ohioans and Pennsylvanians almost make each group alike.

“The differences between Ohioans and Pennsylvanians are mostly speech patterns and football,” Davic says.

Davic, whose family is originally from Pennsylvania, believes the Ohio and Pennsylvania areas are extremely close in many respects. A closeness fuels the flames for those sending a few choice words to people from the other state.

“Both areas think that they are better than the other, but at the same time respect one another. Each place has a blue-collar working-man background and has a steep history in football,” Davic said. “I think the fact that each state is so similar is what creates such a great rivalry here at Kent State.”

Perhaps Davic is correct with his interpretation of Ohioans and Pennsylvanians, and maybe that’s why, in this case, there is such a fine line between love and hate.

Contact features correspondent Dave Yochum at [email protected].