Previous research on speech in Vermont has revealed evidence of dialect leveling but with much individual variation. the purpose of the current study of the raising and fronting of /aʊ/ in Vermont is to explore this residual variation with an eye toward offering interpretations based upon group and personal identity and affiliation. broad demographically based analyses as well as the examination of interview content and individual vowel data provide insight into the process of dialect leveling in Vermont. Specifically, in addition to such demographic factors as age and gender, overall life affiliation differences and individual life choices gleaned from interview material are helpful in disambiguating what would otherwise seem to be anomalous variable features. this combination of methods may be particularly useful in situations of economic and cultural change.

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