“AUNT ALICE” IN CHICAGO AND SYRACUSE. This wikipedia article on the Northern Cities Vowel Shift says the area affected by it includes an area: “beginning some 50 miles (80 km) west of Albany and extending west through Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo, Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, Madison, and north to Green Bay”. (Although there are millions of Canadians living near the border in the Great Lakes region, there is no sign of the shift crossing the border to Canada.) The first example the article gives of the shift is what happens to the word “cat”. “Thus ‘cat’ and ‘that’ as pronounced by a Rochesterian may sound like “kee-at” and “thee-at” to a visitor.” Mary Jane and I were aware almost as soon as we met that the way I pronounce the word “cat” is the same way somebody from Syracuse pronounces it. We refer to it from time to time by using the phrase “Aunt Alice” with the dipthongized “a” sound. I quoted from the article to Mary Jane a moment ago that: “Northerners also typically pronounce ‘dawn’ like ‘yawn'”. Neither of us was aware that there was any other way of pronouncing “dawn”.

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