Keeping things natural: Vowel chromaticity and sonority

In recent work, Labov (1994: Ch 6; 2010: Ch 6) discusses how low vowels do not appear to possess the property that he calls “peripherality” by default. Instead, low vowels may be better described in terms of dimensions adapted from Stampe’s ([1972]/1979) Natural Phonology framework; that is, the dimensions of vowel color known as palatality, labality, and sonority. However, Labov’s discussion of these dimensions, as well as the impact changes in those dimensions may have on low vowels in the course of sound change, is arguably fairly vague in these publications.

Given this fact, this week, I have chosen to post several important sources of information on vowel color as defined within the framework of Natural Phonology. These include Stampe’s (1972) “On the natural history of diphthongs”;  Donegan’s (aka Miller–Donegan of “Donegan (1978)–On the Natural Phonology of vowels” fame, here all of her papers save one are published under the name Miller) “Some context-free processes affecting vowels” (1972a), “Vowel neutralization and vowel reduction” (1972b), “Bleaching and coloring” (1973), and “Raising and lowering” (1976); and Perkins’s (1977) “A sociolinguistic glance at the Great Vowel Shift of English.”

The papers are linked below in a reading order suggested by the content of the papers:

Stampe David. 1972. On the natural history of diphthongs. Papers from the Eighth Regional Meeting of the Chicago Linguistic Society, 578-590. http://www.ling.osu.edu/~ddurian/AWAC/stampe 1972.pdf

Miller, Patricia Donegan. 1972a. Some context-free processes affecting vowels. The Ohio State University Working Papers in Linguistics, 11:136-167. http://www.ling.osu.edu/~ddurian/AWAC/donegan 1972a.pdf

Miller, Patricia Donegan. 1972b. Vowel neutralization and vowel reduction. Papers from the Eighth Regional Meeting of the Chicago Linguistic Society, 482-488. http://www.ling.osu.edu/~ddurian/AWAC/donegan 1972b.pdf

Miller, Patricia Donegan. 1973. Bleaching and coloring. Papers from the Ninth Regional Meeting of the Chicago Linguistic Society, 386-397. http://www.ling.osu.edu/~ddurian/AWAC/donegan 1973.pdf

Donegan, Patricia. 1976. Raising and lowering. Papers from the Twelfth Regional Meeting of the Chicago Linguistic Society, 145-160. http://www.ling.osu.edu/~ddurian/AWAC/donegan 1976.pdf

Perkins, John. 1977. A sociolinguistic glance at the Great Vowel Shift of English. The Ohio State Working Papers in Linguistics, 22: 123-151. http://www.ling.osu.edu/~ddurian/AWAC/perkins 1977.pdf

References

Donegan, Patricia. 1978. On the Natural Phonology of vowels. Doctoral dissertation, The Ohio State University. [Reprinted as The Ohio State Working Papers in Linguistics, 23. http://linguistics.osu.edu/research/publications/workingpapers/files/osu_wpl_23.pdf]

Labov, William. 1994. Principles of linguistic change, volume 1: Internal factors. Oxford: Blackwell.

Labov, William. 2010. Principles of linguistic change, volume 3: Cognitive and cultural factors. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

Stampe, David. 1979. A dissertation on natural phonology. New York: Garland Publishing. [Originally released as Stampe, David. 1972. How I spent my summer vacation. Doctoral dissertation, The University of Chicago.]

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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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