Durian and Gordon’s 2011 NWAV 40 Presentation Now Available

Here is a posting for the final of the NWAV 40 presentation slide shows that we will be posted to the site. This one is the overview presentation by Durian and Gordon for the whole “New Ways of Analyzing Vowel Shifts” double panel. Sticking with the theme, the presentation itself actually introduces some new material presenting new ways of looking at vowel shifts, rather than simply being an overview per se.

This show presents what we believe to be the first reference to “Third Dialect Shift” as a proper term for defining the vowel shift found in recent studies in Canada, the US Midland, and the US West, where LOT backs (and variably raises), TRAP backs, and DRESS also backs. The backing of LOT is often accompanied by merger with THOUGHT, but not always. This term for the Shift also appears in written form outside of this presentation in Durian’s forthcoming dissertation “A New Perspective on Vowel Variation throughout the 20th Century in Columbus, OH,” to be made available in December, 2012.

The slide show can be found here–http://www.ling.osu.edu/~ddurian/NWAV40/Durian_Gordon_NWAV40.pdf

Toward a Unified Theory of Chain Shifting (Aaron Dinkin, 2011)

Here is a link to a third paper from the “New Perspectives on Vowel Shifting” panel at NWAV 40. This time, it is a paper by Aaron Dinkin of Swathmore entitled “Toward a Unified Theory of Chain Shifting.” This link provides a .pdf of Dinkin’s slide show.

The abstract for the paper is presented below:

The ontological status of the chain shift as a linguistic phenomenon has been a subject of
some dispute. Is “chain shift” merely a label assigned in retrospect to a collection of
sound changes that happen to have co-occurred in a superficially structured seeming way,
as argued by Stockwell & Minkova (1988)? Or is the chain a unitary process which
simultaneously causes the movements of several phonemes, as argued by Lass (1988)?
This paper explores the ontological status and evolution of chain shifting, focusing on
data from the Northern Cities Shift (NCS) in the transitional region of eastern New York

In the Hudson Valley, raising of /æ/, the triggering feature of the NCS, is absent, while
other NCS features are present, suggesting that the structural relationship does not hold.
At the same time, in “fringe” communities to which the NCS has apparently diffused, the
NCS takes on a more systematic-seeming triangular shape in the vowel space. These
findings corroborate the theories of Labov (2007) and Preston (2008) on the phonological
consequences of diffusion of the NCS, which had not previously been observed in a
single data set.

These results suggest an overall model for the life cycle of chain shifts, unifying
Stockwell & Minkova’s and Lass’s perspectives: In the community where a chain shift
originates, it is a unitary phenomenon in which phonemes move in response to each other.
As it spreads to new communities, the uniformity is broken down and the individual
shifts no longer bear the same structural relationship to each other. If the result of the
shift becomes mainstream in a broad area beyond its originating community, it takes on
the phonetically symmetric and simplified form that is the result of diffusion. A similar
analysis can be applied to the Great Vowel Shift, as well as the NCS.

The Phonological Component of Phonetic Change (Josef Fruehwald, 2011)

Here is a link to the PDF of Josef Fruehwald’s (of University of Pennsylvania) 2011 NWAV 40 “New Perspectives on Vowel Shifting” panel presentation entitled “The Phonological Component of Phonetic Change.” This paper is essentially a companion to Durian and Joseph’s “The Role of Phonetic Analogy in Vowel Shifts,” also presented in the panel (see previous blog entry), which could be said to describe the phonetic component.

Below is the abstract for Fruehwald’s paper:

Phonetic change must be treated as qualitatively di fferent from nearly all other kinds of language
change. Syntactic, morphological and phonological change all progress as the changing frequency
of use of categorical and competing linguistic objects, or processes (Kroch, 1989). Phonetic change
and its paradigmatic cases, vowel shifts, appear to progress as a continuous change in the quality
of use of a linguistic object. My proposal for capturing this property of phonetic change is to treat
it as changing phonetic implementation of relatively stable phonological objects. This approach captures both the continuous nature of phonetic change, and the role that categorical phonology appears to play in vowel shifts (e.g. segmental unity and the “binding force” (Labov, 2010)). It also opens clearer theoretical connections between the study of phonetic change, and phonological theory.

For example, the possible units of phonetic change ought to be the same as the units of phonetic
implementation. Phonological features are implicated as units of phonetic implementation in the
generative phonetics literature (e.g. Cohn (1993)), and parallel phonetic changes which a ffect entire
natural classes, like the Canadian Shift (Boberg, 2005), can be described a change in the implementation of the feature which de fines the class, providing an explanatory account for the phonetic analogy discussed by Durian (2009) and Durian & Joseph (2011).

This approach also implies the conditional relationship: unity in surface phonology -> unity
in phonetic change. Cases of unity or disunity in phonetic change, then, can be taken as a form
of phonological evidence. For example, /ow/ and /owl/ are moving in opposite directions in the
American South (Labov et al., 2006), indicating that there must be phonological process a ffecting
/ow/ before /l/.

By formulating the mechanism of phonetic change in this way, we open a clear path for the study
of phonetic change to inform phonological theory, and vice versa.

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.

Contradictions between dialect data and current theories of chain shifting

Here is another interesting piece from the duo of Robert Stockwell and Donka Minkova. This time, they deal with present day chain shifts (and, as usual, also some historical data, as well) and discuss how current theories of chain shifting have problems dealing with aspects of the chain shift data. This article originally appeared in Leeds Studies in English in 1999.

Stockwell, Robert, and Donka Minkova. 1999. Explanations of Sound Change: Contradictions between dialect data and theories of chain shifting. Leeds Studies in English XXX:83-102. http://www.ling.osu.edu/~ddurian/AWAC/Stockwell Minkova 1999.pdf

How much shifting actually occurred during the Great Vowel Shift?

This time, we present to you the latest piece by Robert Stockwell analyzing the trajectories of the vowels involved in the historical English vowel shift (aka the Great Vowel Shift). This piece comes from Studies in the History of the English Language: A Millennial Perspective, and was published in 2002…

Stockwell, Robert. 2002. How much shifting occurred in the historical English vowel shift? In Donka Minkova and Robert Stockwell (Eds.), Studies in the history of the English Language: A millennial perspective. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. p. 267-281.


Other readings by Stockwell (with Donka Minkova) useful for understanding his (their) take on the GVS include the following, already posted here on the NWAC site:



The effect of outliers on the perception of sound change

Here’s another article where the title tells us everything we need to know. This one is definitely interesting if one is interested in a Labovian view on sound change. It’s from the most recent Language Variation and Change, and available via link directly from the LVC site…

Labov, William, Maciej Baranowski, and Aaron Dinkin. 2010. The effect of outliers on the perception of sound change. Language Variation and Change,  22.2:175-190. http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=7921598&fulltextType=RA&fileId=S0954394510000104

Optimal diphthongs and vowel shifts (in English): Is there a link?

Here we have another entry where the title pretty much says it all. Definitely an interesting perspective worth considering…

Minkova, Donka and Robert Stockwell. 2003. English vowel shifts and ‘optimal’ diphthongs: Is there a logical link? In D. Eric Holt (Ed.), Optimality Theory and language change. The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishing. pp. 169-190. http://books.google.com/books?id=CYDkGiu8w5sC&pg=PA169&lpg=PA169&dq=English+vowel+shifts+and+optimal+diphthongs&source=bl&ots=byu47KYGOV&sig=-GNquzfsx_J-QfQtN3jVGUsBV5k&hl=en&ei=wBIZTbmLEZCHnAfMqqCrAg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CBwQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=English%20vowel%20shifts%20and%20optimal%20diphthongs&f=false

Donegan’s “Raising and lowering” added to the Natural Phonology paper set

Patricia Donegan’s (1976) CLS paper “Raising and lowering” has been added to the set of papers originally posted as Keeping things natural: Vowel chromaticity and sonority.

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


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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