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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Research Article| February 01 2012
Chain Shifting and Centralization in California Vowels: An Acoustic Analysis
American Speech (2012) 87 (1): 39–56.
Robert Kennedy, James Grama; Chain Shifting and Centralization in California Vowels: An Acoustic Analysis. American Speech 1 February 2012; 87 (1): 39–56. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00031283-1599950
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