The Northern Cities Vowel Shift (NCVS) is well advanced in southeastern Lower Michigan and largely absent in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. In a previous study, Plichta and Rakerd found evidence that listeners from Lower Michigan make a perceptual adjustment for NCVS /ɑ/-fronting when given acoustical information about a talker's dialect (a sentence-long speech sample), but listeners from the Upper Peninsula do not. The present study further examines this phenomenon. Here, individual differences regarding listeners' vowel categorization judgments indicate that the /ɑ/-fronting perceptual response is consistently present among young adult residents of Lower Michigan, but much more variable among young adults from the Upper Peninsula. There is also evidence that the perceptual effect for Lower Michigan listeners is robust over a number of different stimulus variations. A word-level difference found here suggests that perceptual cues to /ɑ/-fronting may be provided by both static and dynamic vowel formant features. Finally, listeners' decision reaction times provide new evidence of regional differences in sensitivity to NCVS.

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