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Abstract

Since the Great Vowel Shift began in the 1400s, English vowels have been in a state of flux (Fromkin et al. 2017:331). Labov et al. (2006) have documented two macrolevel shifts in North American English: The Northern Cities Shift and The Southern Shift. At a microlevel, vowel shifts are happening in various regions of the US, as amply described in Wolfram and Ward (2006). However, vowel shifts in Minnesota English are poorly documented, except for stereotypical portrayals in popular culture. A shift involving [ʌ] and [ɔ] is quietly underway. It drew our attention only because of a misunderstanding between a speaker and dozens of listeners. Two separate experiments are conducted to find out more about what is going on with [ʌ] and [ɔ]. For this, we recruited 27 participants and extracted F0, F1, F2, F3, F4, intensity, and duration values, for a total of 436 measured tokens. The main finding is that many speakers in Central Minnesota no longer differentiate between [ʌ] and [ɔ] when they occur before nasal consonants.

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, 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 perspective 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.

Connor Hanzsek-Brill is an undergraduate student at Saint Cloud State University, MN. He is responsible for the data collection and analysis used in Experiment 1. He often works with/for Dr. Koffi in his Introduction to Linguistics course as a tutor. He has an interest in East African and Eurasian languages, constructed languages, and phonetics. He hopes to specialize in phonetic research, linguistic field research, and community awareness programs that promote multilingualism. He can be reached at connorhanzsek@gmail.com.

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