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Abstract

This paper is the third installment in an ongoing acoustic phonetic research devoted to Central Minnesota English (CMNE). The first paper, Koffi (2013), was a general description of the acoustic vowel space of CMNE vowels. The second paper, Koffi (2014), examined CMNE vowels in relation to Northern Cities Shift (NCS). The present paper investigates the lowering of the vowels [ɪ] and [ʊ] in CMNE. These two vowels are traditionally classified as [+high, +lax]. However, in Central Minnesota, acoustic measurements have shown that these two vowels have lowered so much that it would be erroneous to classify them as such. Since [ɪ] and [ʊ] lowering has not been sufficiently discussed in the sociophonetics literature, we are wondering if it is an idiosyncratic feature of CMNE or if it is taking place in other dialects. To answer this question, the acoustic vowel space of CMNE is compared with five other dialects of English spoken in North America: General American English (GAE), Mid West English (MWE), the dialect of English spoken in some northern cities (NCS), Southern California English (SCE), and Standard Canadian English (SCAE). The main insight gained from this research is that [ɪ] and [ʊ] are lowering in all dialects, but that the process is far more advanced in CMNE than in all the dialects discussed in this paper.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Author Bio

Ettien Koffi is a professor of Linguistics. He teaches the linguistics courses in the TESL/Applied Linguistics MA program in the English Department at Saint Cloud State University, MN. He has written three linguistic books: Language Society in Biblical Times (1996), Paradigm Shift in Language Planning and Policy: Game Theoretic Solutions (2012), and Applied English Syntax (2015). He is the author of many peer-reviewed articles on various topics in linguistics. His primary area of specialization is at the interface between acoustic phonetics and phonology. He has extensive experience in emergent orthographies and in the acoustic phonetic and phonological description of dialect variation. He can be reached via email at: enkoffi@stcloudstate.edu.

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