Is the Northern Cities Shift a chain shift?

Following up on my earlier post concerning chain shifts vs. parallel shifts and how they work, here’s an interesting perspective on the chain shift part of things from Matt Gordon, taken from his (2000) study Small-town values and big-city vowels. This chapter is definitely worth checking out for those of you who work on vowel shifts, as it provides a different perspective on the NCS than “received wisdom” sources such as Labov (1994) or Labov, Ash and Boberg (2006), It definitely provides some food for thought.

See my related post regarding an alternative perspective on the Canadian Shift, as offered by Charles Boberg in a 2005 LVC article, and later Durian in a 2009 NWAV presentation, as well as his forthcoming dissertation.

Gordon, Matthew. 2000.Is the Northern Cities Shift a chain shift? Small-town values and big-city vowels: A study of the Northern Cities Shift in Michigan. Publication of the American Dialect Society, 80. Durham: Duke University Press. pp. 194-219.


About daviddurian
I am a sociolinguist with a Ph D in Linguistics from The Ohio State University. Currently, I work as the Lecturer at Rice University, where I teach undergraduate courses in both sociolinguistics and general linguistics. I also work on research projects investing language variation and change in US English a variety of cities. Specifically, at the moment, this includes Houston, Chicago, and Columbus, OH.

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