Function, structure, sound change, and chain shifts

One of the original influential discussions impacting Labov’s view on how chain shifts work is the work of Andre Martinet. Although I haven’t read his entire work Economie des linguistique genererale (1955) since I don’t read French, from what I understand, this article (from Word, published in 1952 and in English) essentially presents the “gist” of Martinet’s views on these topics as put forth in that book. As one will see from reading it, it is clear Martinet’s views had a strong influence on Labov’s views on chain shifting.

Martinet, Andre. 1952. Function, structure, and sound change. Word, 8.1:1-32.

In addition, other informative pre-Labov works on chain shifting include:

– Jesperson, Otto. 1909. A Modern English grammar on historical principles. London: George Allen & Unwin.
– Dobson, E. J. 1957. English pronunciation 1500-1700. Vol. 2: Phonology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
– Stockwell, Robert P. 1964. On the utility of an overall pattern in historical English phonology. In H. Lunt (Ed.), Proceedings of the Ninth International Congress of Linguists. Mouton: The Hague. p. 663-671.


About daviddurian
I am a sociolinguist with a Ph D in Linguistics from The Ohio State University and an MA in Rhetoric and Professional Writing from Northern Illinois University. Currently, I work as the Lecturer at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, where I teach undergraduate courses in sociolinguistics, general linguistics, and first-year composition. I also work on research projects investigating variation and change in the vowel system of modern US English as it is spoken by Americans living in a variety of cities. At the moment, this includes Chicago, IL, Columbus, OH, and Eastern Pennsylvania.

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