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Abstract

In this paper, I investigate the durational characteristics of vowels produced by Central Minnesota speakers of English. The vowel [o] receives the lion’s share of attention because it is stereotypically indexed with the Minnesotan way of speaking. Twenty-three female and 11 male talkers produced the 11 phonemic monophthong vowels of English contained in the words . Eleven male talkers (64%) elongate their [o]s, while 10 female talkers (44%) do the same. Overall, the lengthening of [o] marks the speaker as having a stereotypical Minnesota accent, as portrayed in the movie Fargo and the sitcom Coach. The aggregated data suggests that female speakers are making a concerted effort to reduce the duration of their [o]s, but their male counterparts are less inclined to do so. The female linguistic behavior is probably due to the fact that the elongated [o] is perceived as less prestigious. This finding is consistent with sociolinguistic observations from numerous languages indicating that female talkers gravitate toward speech forms that they perceive as more prestigious.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License

Author Bio

Ettien Koffi, Ph.D. in linguistics from Indiana University, teaches linguistics at Saint Cloud State University, MN. Author of many peer-reviewed articles on various topics in linguistics and of four books: Language Society in Biblical Times (1996), Paradigm Shift in Language Planning and Policy: Game Theoretic Solutions (2012), Applied English Syntax (2010, 2015), and the New Testament in Anyi Morofu (2017), a task which took over 25 years. Specializing in acoustic phonetics, dialect variation, and emergent orthographies, his current research centers on speech acoustics of L2 English (within the Speech Intelligibility Framework), Central Minnesota English, and Anyi. He can be reached at enkoffi@stcloudstate.edu

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