fronted /oU/

Tim Frazer tcf at MACOMB.COM
Sat Nov 4 22:08:04 UTC 2000

All these examples of /ow/ fronting raise some interesting questions.
1.  Is it a  pandialectal movement?  It's in the southern shift, which is
usually account for as a chain shift in which various vowels diplace each
other, and Labov seems to include "southern England, New Zealand, South
Africa, the Middle Atlantic States, the Southern Mountain States, and both
the Upper and Lower South" in this shift.  But how does this account for
/ow/ fronting among California women, or, as Alice just mentioned, in CT (it
really blows my mind to hear it is there.  I had no idea).

2.  In some places it is socially motivated.  In Farmer City, IL, Tim Habick
reports /ow/ fronting as well as other features of the SS among the
"burnouts" in farmer City High School -- the outgroup, the dopers.  But this
would not account for its presence in SE OH. Or, I presume, CT, although
Alice didn't mention social characteristics.  (Any breakdowns of your
sample, Alice?)

3.  These feature has apparently been in W Pa, se OH, se PA (but not central
PA), n WV, and scattered around NJ and in NYC for a long time -- see Kurath
and McDavid's map 21 (Pronunciation of Eng in the Atl states, 1961, U of Ala
P).  The LAMSAS informants were mostly born in the nineteenth century,
sometimes before the Civil War, so Beveryly's landlady's pronunciation
probably represented 3rd generation use.  But if people came to my part of
Illinois from the same places as to SE OH, albeit 30 years later, why does
/ow/ fronting not show up earlier in Illinois?

4.  is this an Ulster Scots features?
----- Original Message -----
From: Alice Faber <faber at ALVIN.HASKINS.YALE.EDU>
Sent: Saturday, November 04, 2000 3:18 PM
Subject: Re: fronted /oU/

> 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
> >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
> >"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
> >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
> >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
> 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

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