WHY SO MANY VOWEL SHIFTS? I posted here about how the Northern Cities Vowel Shift has been called “the most important change in English in centuries”— the most important change since the Great Vowel Shift, which took place between 1400 and 1800. I have two questions. First, why are there two vowel shifts going on now for the first time in hundreds of years? Second, why does the Canadian Vowel Shift seem to be proceeding so rapidly? (The Northern Cities Vowel Shift is thought to have been going on since the 1940’s.)
Kevin Corcoran cites some experts who speculate that the Canadian vowel sounds are influenced by Californian accents or that the new vowel sounds “portray a more trendy identity.” Modern communications would expose people to more accents than in the past.
In any event, all it takes to change the pattern of vowels is a change ub the position of the mouth. One sociolinguist say the Canadian “vowels are getting higher and backer in the mouth…. ‘