Northern Minnesota English is a dialect that is suspected to be perceptually different from other Minnesota dialects (Bartholdi 2015). The current study seeks to investigate whether there is any acoustic phonetic evidence to prove and/or disprove these impressionistic claims. To do this, acoustic data was collected from twenty participants from Northern Minnesota who uttered 11 different English vowels ([i, ɪ, e, ɛ, æ, ɑ, ɔ, o, ʊ, u, ʌ]). Those utterances were then compared and contrasted with vowel sounds uttered by 32 Central Minnesota English speakers, which were originally collected by Koffi (2013). The findings from this study confirm the impressionistic claims which state that Northern Minnesota English speakers sound slightly different from other Minnesotans, specifically Central Minnesota English speakers. However, these two dialects are not completely different. Despite some perceptible distinctions, both dialects still manifest the same phonological patterns: merged [ɑ] and [ɔ] vowels, raising [ɪ] above [e], and fronting and lowering [ʊ].

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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, Ph.D. linguistics, teaches at Saint Cloud State University, MN. He is the author of five books and author/co-author of several dozen articles on acoustic phonetics, phonology, language planning and policy, emergent orthographies, syntax, and translation. His acoustic phonetic research is synergetic, encompassing L2 acoustic phonetics of English (Speech Intelligibility from the perspectives of the Critical Band Theory), sociophonetics of Central Minnesota English, general acoustic phonetics of Anyi (a West African language), acoustic phonetic feature extraction for application in Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR), Text-to-Speech (TTS), Speech-to-Text (STT), Intelligent Systems, and voice biometrics for speaker verification. He can be reached at enkoffi@stcloudstate.edu.

Michel Lopez-Backstrom is an ESL teacher in the East Grand Forks school district. She completed her MA in Teaching English as a Second Language at St. Cloud State University, Minnesota, USA where she studied under Dr. Ettien Koffi. Her MA thesis is on the acoustic phonetic vowel spaces of northern Minnesota. She has co-published a paper investigating the similarities and differences between Northern Minnesota English and Winnipeg Canadian English along with a paper on the acoustic characteristics of alveolar fricatives in the idiolect of a northern Minnesota female. Additionally, she has published a paper on the Northern Minnesota English dialect. She can be reached at michel.backstrom@gmail.com.



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