While high and mid back vowel (/u/ and /o/) fronting has been examined in many North American regions, no study has systematically explored /u/ and /o/ fronting in Washington, D.C. This study investigates /u/ and /o/ fronting among european American and African American speakers native to D.C. A sociophonetic analysis of the speech of 40 D.C. residents shows that the district is participating in back vowel fronting as a community, with European American speakers exhibiting greater degrees of fronting than African Americans. Although lagging behind, D.C. African American speakers do move toward greater degrees of fronting in apparent time, particularly led by African American men. One factor that affects the speech of African Americans in D.C. is the speaker's neighborhood background, with African American speakers from the Southeast (Se) neighborhoods exhibiting different vocalic characteristics from those who are from elsewhere in the city. The study also provides preliminary evidence of /o/ backing among european American speakers, whose /u/ is fronting in apparent time. A reverse pattern of fronting is observed among African American speakers from Se, whose /u/ is not fronting, but /o/ is. These findings challenge the often-made assumption that /o/ fronting is a parallel process of /u/ fronting.

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