THE NORTHERN CITIES VOWEL SHIFT.

THE NORTHERN CITIES VOWEL SHIFT. Jennifer Schuessler’s article also introduced me to the Northern Cities Vowel Shift, which has special meaning for me and Mary Jane. I had noticed that there were similarities between Mary Jane’s Syracuse accent and my Chicago accent. I had not realized that these similarities were reflections of the Northern Cites Vowel Shift, which has occurred in the area around the Great Lakes. Schuessler says: “The line separating the North and the Midlands — an area dialectologists define as stretching roughly from New Jersey westward to Kansas and Nebraska — is ‘the deepest division in our society’ linguistically, [William Labov, an editor of the Linguistic Atlas Project] said, and it’s only getting deeper.” Labov says that the change involves some 34 million people and has been going on since the 1940′s. Why it is occurring is a mystery. Labov suggests it may be a long-delayed result of the Erie Canal.

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One Response to THE NORTHERN CITIES VOWEL SHIFT.

  1. Pingback: “THE MOST IMPORTANT CHANGE IN ENGLISH IN CENTURIES”? | Pater Familias

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