Southern varieties of English are known to be affected by the Southern Vowel Shift (SVS), which alters the positional relationship between the front tense/lax system. However, previous work on the SVS generally limits its focus to steady state formant measures. Possible links between these shifts and dynamic trajectory distinctions have largely been unexplored despite widespread recognition that Southern vowels are dynamic in nature. The current article uses data from three Southern states (Tennessee, North Carolina, and Virginia) to ask to what extent does spectral onset position (the typical measure of SVS participation) correlate with internal spectral dynamics in the SVS. Analysis methods include a series of spectral measures (vector length, trajectory length, spectral rate of change and vector angle), which capture vowel inherent dynamics and vowel directionality. Results support the utility of looking at dynamic measures to better understand the fuller extent of vowel changes that occur with the SVS and lend support to recent calls to include nonstatic measures in sociophonetic analyses more generally.
Vowel Dynamics in the Southern Vowel Shift
charlie farrington is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Oregon. He received his M.A. in English from North Carolina State University. His current research focuses on the regional development of African American Language varieties, focusing on consonantal features. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
tyler kendall is associate professor of linguistics at the University of Oregon. Much of his research focuses on variation and change in American English, with emphases on language production and perception across regional and ethnic varieties of English. He is author of Speech Rate, Pause, and Sociolinguistic Variation: Studies in Corpus Sociophonetics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013) and coeditor of two recent PADS monographs, Speech in the Western States, volumes 1 and 2 (Duke Univ. Press, 2016Duke Univ. Press, 2017). E-mail: email@example.com.
valarie fridland is professor of linguistics and director of graduate studies in the Department of English at the University of Nevada, Reno. As a sociolinguist, her main focus is on varieties of American English. Most of her research, with co-PI Tyler Kendall, investigates variation in vowel production and vowel perception across the Northern, Southern, and Western regions of the United States. This work explores links between social factors and speech processing. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Charlie Farrington, Tyler Kendall, Valerie Fridland; Vowel Dynamics in the Southern Vowel Shift. American Speech 1 May 2018; 93 (2): 186–222. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00031283-6926157
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