Recent acoustic analyses examining English in the North American Great Lakes region show that the area’s characteristic vowel chain shift, the Northern Cities Shift (NCS), is waning. Attitudinal analyses suggest that the NCS has lost prestige in some NCS cities, such that it is no longer regarded as “standard American English.” Sociocultural and temporal accounts of capital loss and dialect decline remain unexplored, however. This article examines F1, F2, and diphthongal quality of trap produced by 36 White speakers (18 women and 18 men) in one NCS city—Lansing, Michigan—over the course of the twentieth century. Results show that trap realization is conditioned by gender and birth year, such that women led the change toward NCS realizations into the middle of the twentieth century and then away from them thereafter. These findings reflect the backdrop of deindustrialization during this time of linguistic reorganization in Lansing and show that as the regional industry—(auto) manufacturing—loses prestige, so does the regional variant, raised trap. This article expands our understanding of North American dialectology by adding the importance of deindustrialization and the Baby Boomer to Generation X generational transition to our discussion of regional dialect maintenance.
The Rise and Fall of the Northern Cities Shift: Social and Linguistic Reorganization of TRAP in Twentieth-Century Lansing, Michigan
Monica Nesbitt; The Rise and Fall of the Northern Cities Shift: Social and Linguistic Reorganization of TRAP in Twentieth-Century Lansing, Michigan. American Speech 1 August 2021; 96 (3): 332–370. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00031283-8791754
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