This article documents the acoustic properties of the vowels of young adults from various regions of California, with special attention to a chain shift that lowers short front vowels /I/ (as in kit), /ϵ/ (as in dress), and /æ/ (as in trap). It also tracks the centralization of /ow/ (as in goat). Quantitative analysis of subjects' formants shows a consistently lower set of front vowels and a consistently centralized /ow/ relative to baseline comparisons drawn from Labov, Ash, and boberg's 2006 Atlas of North American English, suggesting a recent diachronic emergence of both phenomena. A small gender effect is observed, suggesting women are further advanced than men in the chain shift. These findings suggest that the chain shift is not clearly a pull-chain brought about by the low-back merger of /Ɔ/ (as in lot) and /ɑ/ (as in thought) and may have occurred independently as a push-train.

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