Making sense of shifty changes: The role of phonetic analogy in vowel shifts (Durian and Joseph, 2011)

Here is a link to “Making Sense of Shifty Changes: The Role of Phonetic Analogy in Vowel Shifts” by David Durian and Brian D. Joseph, the first of several presentations I am posting here from the “New Perspectives on Vowel Shifting” panels held at NWAV 40. Note–This version is an updated and somewhat more detailed version that what we actually presented in person at NWAV 40.

Here is our abstract:

The idea that diachronic development and cross-generational incrementation of vowel shifts
proceed via processes of rule extension/rule generalization has a long history (King, 1969;
Labov, 1972/1994/2010). Recently, linguists have questioned whether the generalization process
involved might better be classified as analogical, since parallel shifts usually develop and
progress in real world observation of actual speakers’ shifting vowel systems (Gordon, 2001;
Boberg, 2005; Durian, 2009).

Accordingly, we explore here whether this generalization process in parallel shifts is rule
extension/generalization or analogy, specifically phonetic analogy (Schuchardt, 1885;
Vennemann, 1972). Conceptually, phonetic analogy is a reasonable alternative to “extension”,
since “extension” is essentially an analogical likening of, say, a mid vowel to a high vowel.
As the empirical basis for our discussion, we present results of a quantitative analysis of two
parallel shifts (fronting of /uw-ow/; backing of /ae-E-I/) found among Columbus speakers. We
offer real and apparent time change trends from the vowel systems of 62 speakers, born 1896-
1990 and evenly representing social class (middle/working), sex, and generational cohort.
Our analysis shows speakers making use of phonetic analogy during parallel shift development/

This process involves three steps, during which linguistic relationships, such as contrasts between
combinations of place and voicing features which occur as contrastive sets, function as either “models” or “clones”: a) initial extension of a “model” set of relationships to another “clone” set; b) refinement of the modeled set relationship applied to the clone set; c) increasingly “generic” generalization of the refined clone set relationship affecting additional clone iterations.

Data from both parallel Columbus shifts exemplifies how each step occurs. Further, we explore application of this model to other vowel shifts, e.g. the Canadian and Northern Cities chain shifts. Ultimately, we conclude phonetic analogy is the best way to classify the overall generalization process in vowel shift development/incrementation, rather than rule extension/generalization.


A must read for folks interested in the meta-history of Historical Linguistics

This chapter, from the History of the Language Sciences (Vol 3) by Robert Murray, is a definite “must read” for folks interested in the meta-history of research and theory trends in the area of Historical Linguistics. It provides a concise discussion of which research and theory trends that began in the 18th and 19th Centuries were carried over into the Structuralist (and Post-Structuralist) eras, and more importantly, interesting postulations on why some were carried over but others weren’t. (For those interested in one of the continuing sub-themes of this site–work focused on phonetic and phonological analogy–there is also some discussion of Schuchardt’s take on analogy embedded in the discussion.)

Murray, Robert W. 2006. Historical Linguistics in the second half of the 20th Century: The place of Historical Linguistics in the age of Structuralism. In Sylvain Auroux, E.F.K. Koerner, Hans-Josef Niederehe, and Kees Versteegh (Eds.), History of the Language Sciences, volume 3. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter. pp. 2430-2445.

Life cycles, diachronic phonology, and a first look at sound change + optimality theory

The title on this posting says it all…

Bermúdez-Otero, Ricardo. 2007. Diachronic phonology. In Paul de Lacy (ed.), The Cambridge handbook of phonology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 497-517.

Bermúdez-Otero, Ricardo. 2006. Phonological change in Optimality Theory. In Keith Brown (ed.), Encyclopedia of language and lingusitics (2nd ed.). Volume 9. Oxford: Elsevier. pp. 497-505.

(Thanks to Aaron Dinkin for pointing out the 2007 article via his dissertation)

Sound change by Charles Hockett

No, it’s not a new perfume. It is, however, an article written by Hockett in 1965 that is another true classic. This time, from Language, and therefore, linked through JStor rather than directly linked as a pdf.

Hockett, Charles. 1965. Sound change. Language, 41.2:185-204.

Is a structural dialectology possible?

Another oldie but goody. And another that was perhaps more influential on what came later than has yet been fully realized…

Weinreich, Uriel. 1954. Is a structural dialectology possible? Word, 10:388-400. 1954.pdf

Schuchardt’s “Against the Neogrammarians”, both in the original German and translated into English…

Following up on the Vennemann “Phonetic analogy and conceptual analogy” and “Getting to know Schuchardt” posts, I now present Schuchardt’s own take on “phonetic analogy and conceptual analogy” in his own words. It is presented below both in the original German and in an English translation (made by Venneman and Wilbur in 1972).

Schuchardt, Hugo. 1885. Uber die Lautesetze: Gegen die Junggrammatiker. Berlin: Oppenheim. (Reprinted and translated as On Sound Laws: Against the Neogrammarians in Vennemann, Theo, and Terence H. Wilbur (Eds.), Schuchardt, the Neogrammarians, and the Transformational Theory of phonological change: Four essays. Frankfort, Athenaum.)



Analogy, take 4: Schuchardt and Vennemann’s phonetic analogy and conceptual analogy

Following on from Joseph’s (to appear) discussion, as well as earlier postings concerning analogy and sound change (Take One, Two, and Three), here is a 4th take on the role of analogy in sound change. This time around, it’s Theo Vennemann building on concepts originally introduced by Hugo Schuchardt (1885): phonetic analogy and conceptual analogy.

As I mentioned earlier, my dissertation will investigate the possible role analogy plays in processes such as parallel shifts. As discussed by Joseph (to appear), my vision of the role analogy plays in the process, as initially demonstrated in Durian (2009),  is very much like the one discussed by Vennemann in his  article “Phonetic analogy and conceptual analogy” from 1972. Given the connection, I have included Vennemann’s discussion here.

Vennemann, Theo. 1972b. Phonetic analogy and conceptual analogy. In Vennemann, Theo, and Terence H. Wilbur (Eds.), Schuchardt, the Neogrammarians, and the Transformational Theory of phonological change: Four essays. Frankfort, Athenaum. p. 181-204. 1972b.pdf

See also:

Durian, David. 2009. Purely a chain shift? The “Canadian Shift” in the US Midland. Paper presented at NWAV 38, Ottawa, Canada.

Schuchardt, Hugo. 1885. Uber die Lautesetze: Gegen die Junggrammatiker. Berlin: Oppenheim. (Reprinted and translated as On Sound Laws: Against the Neogrammarians in Vennemann, Theo, and Terence H. Wilbur (Eds.), Schuchardt, the Neogrammarians, and the Transformational Theory of phonological change: Four essays. Frankfort, Athenaum.)

Strange bedfellows or natural friends? Sociolinguistics and historical linguistics

Here’s a quite interesting and quite recent “thought piece” by Brian Joseph, one which I think all readers of this blog should give a serious read and consideration. And also hopefully one readers will choose to comment on…

Why you ask? Because it raises  a number of thought provoking questions and offers an intriguing series of thoughts on a number of issues that tend to be of concern to sociolinguists who focus on language change which differ from the views we so often take as “a given” in the year 2010 in our field.

As the author himself states: “In what follows, I aim to see what points of similarity and difference there are between these two commonly paired concerns [sociolinguistics and historical linguistics]– note the very terms “socio-historical linguistics” / “historical sociolinguistics”, after all – with an ultimate goal of determining if the coupling of the two is, as the title suggests, the result of joint membership in a natural class or is instead a forced marriage.

In the course of so doing, I re-examine and to some extent debunk, or at least attempt to debunk, a number of concepts that both historical linguistics and sociolinguistics hold dear. In many instances, I pose questions about notions and practices without necessarily offering answers. In the spirit of Socrates’ adage about the unexamined life, my hope is that asking the right questions is helpful even if clear answers are not offered.

Some of what follows may seem obvious and maybe even trivial to the intended audience of sociolinguists, historical linguists, and social historians, but my intent is in part to call attention here to some shortcuts that practicing socio-historical linguists routinely use. In this way, we can be sure that we are aware of what we are doing when we employ them. I see two important reasons for doing this. First, it is sometimes the case that practitioners can be deluded or deceived in the worst case or just even distracted by their own terminology and their own practices, so that raising questions can be a way of heightening awareness. Second, there is always a risk that others outside our subfield might adopt (and then alter or misconstrue) our practices without fully understanding why we do what we do, and being explicit about the practices can thus be a safeguard against that.”

Having hopefully interested you in wanting to read more, I present a link to the entirety of Joseph’s piece, below…

Joseph, Brian D. To appear (2011). Historical linguistics and sociolinguistics: Strange bedfellows or natural friends? In Langer, Nils, Steffan Davies, and Wim Vandenbussche (Eds.), Language and history, linguistics and historiography. Proceedings from the 3rd Summer School in Historical Sociolinguistics, as Organized by the Historical Sociolinguistics Network (HiSoN) with the support of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, University of Adger and the University of Bristol.

John Wells’s Blog

Definitely some great sound change topics discussed here, as well as material relevant to phonetic variation more generally. Something definitely to check out…

All you can eat John Ohala buffet

With the work of John Ohala, its so hard to just pick one or even two representative articles concerning his work on sound change. So, I decided to choose three for starters. His stuff is worth checking out, because, well, even if you don’t see eye to eye with him, he sure does make you think!

So, what do we have on offer?

Ohala, J. J. 1981. The listener as a source of sound change. In: C. S. Masek, R. A. Hendrick, & M. F. Miller (eds.), Papers from the Parasession on Language and Behavior. Chicago: Chicago Ling. Soc. 178 – 203.

Sound familiar?

Ohala, J. J. 1971. The role of physiological and acoustic models in explaining the direction of sound change. Project on Linguistic Analysis Reports (Berkeley) 15.25-40.

And finally, from his third decade in operation

Ohala, J. J. 1993. The phonetics of sound change. In Charles Jones (ed.), Historical Linguistics: Problems and Perspectives. London: Longman. 237-278.

Just can’t get enough?

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