fronted /oU/

Beverly Flanigan flanigan at OAK.CATS.OHIOU.EDU
Sat Nov 4 21:56:35 UTC 2000

At 04:18 PM 11/4/00 -0500, you wrote:
>Beverly Flanigan said:
> >Yes, and as I've said earlier and elsewhere, southern/southeastern Ohio
> >represents both the upward extension of the Southern Shift and the westward
> >spread of the West Penn/Pittsburgh vowels (see Hankey 1972, in the Raven
> >McDavid festschrift).  Someone cited West Virginia's vowel fronting also;
> >our eastern end of Ohio shares a lot of features with WV.  When I mentioned
> >"older people" though, I was citing from my 20-year perspective in
> >Ohio.  The very first sound that struck my ear when I came for my interview
> >at OU in 1980 was the fronting of /ow/--not in OU gownies, of course, but
> >in many then middle-aged townies (my landlady that year was 40-ish, which
> >would date her from the 1940s or a bit earlier).  I would guess that it has
> >spread through southern Indiana and Illinois in the period Tim mentions.
>Yup...we had a speaker at the lab a few weeks ago whose phonology was so
>interesting that I almost stopped paying attention to the content of her
>talk. She had extremely northern (but not Northern Cities) tense /ae/,
>along with nearly monophthongal /aI/ (as well as some other more southern
>features). It turned out she's from Cincinnati (I asked), and she
>volunteered that she grew up with double modals as well. I didn't notice
>/uw/ and /ow/ fronting particularly, but that might be because it's pretty
>common to hear fronted vowels, especially /ow/, here in Connecticut. I have
>formant plots from CT college students for which /ow/ is roughly [EU]; I
>don't know if that's the sort of variant that started this thread, though.
>Alice Faber                                       tel. (203) 865-6163
>Haskins Laboratories                              fax  (203) 865-8963
>270 Crown St                                   faber at
>New Haven, CT 06511                               afaber at

The Cincinnati citation is particularly interesting, since some researchers
have suggested that Cinci is an "island" that doesn't share South Midland
or Southern features (just as some say Pittsburgh is "unique," when my
regional informants know it isn't).  As a large city, it of course receives
many inputs, but a large substratum consists of South Midland speakers,
including both earlier generations and new in-migrants from further
South.  My students tell me there are many neighborhoods that are
identifiably Appalachian or Southern, and they are not surprised at all
when I group it with South, not North, Midland (pace Carver); the
(traditional) Cincinnati area is not like the (traditional) Columbus area.
If anyone remembers the Cincinnati woman in "American Tongues," you'll note
both her vowel fronting and her (slight) monophthongizing.  Yes, the /EU/
sound is what we're talking about.  And by the way, I heard my first clear
double modal from an Athenian just the other day--"might could"!

Beverly Olson Flanigan         Department of Linguistics
Ohio University                     Athens, OH  45701
Ph.: (740) 593-4568              Fax: (740) 593-2967

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