Few studies have examined the vowel systems of communities that border areas characterized by the Northern Cities Shift and the low back vowel merger, two sound changes currently shaping North American English. Using data from 40 respondents in greater Eau Claire, in northwestern Wisconsin, we examine the behavior of the low vowels /æ, α, ɔ/ and consider the relationships among their arrangements and these sound changes. We find advanced /æ/-raising before /g/, moderate /æ/-raising in other environments, little to no /α/-fronting, and the low back vowel merger in progress. The findings challenge the assumption that /æ/-raising and the low back vowel merger are unlikely to co-occur. In addition, the patterns of /æ/-raising, for example, that /æ/-raising before /g/ is not undergoing change and /æ/-raising in other environments may be receding, raise interesting questions about the relationship between /æ/-raising in northwestern Wisconsin and the Northern Cities Shift. Although/æ/-raising seems to precede the low back vowel merger in northwestern Wisconsin, the pressure of the low back vowel merger is intensifying due to geographic and social connections between northwestern Wisconsin and minnesota.

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