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


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

J Milroy reviews Labov (1994)

Adding to the earlier posts I put up presenting some alternate views on chain shifting (Gordon, as well as Stockwell & Minkova), here is a relatively short review of Labov’s Principles of Linguistic Change, Volume 1 (1994) by James Milroy. It was originally published in 1995 in the Journal of Linguistics. Among several of Milroy’s  critiques is his discussion of Labov’s chain shifting principle that “lax (short) vowels fall,” in which he presents an  interesting alternate perspective on the movement behavior exhibited by front vowels, based on a combined consideration of evidence from Australian, RP, and Northern Cities US English.

Milroy, James. 1995. Review of William Labov, Principles of linguistic change. Volume 1: Internal factors (Language in Society 20). Oxford: Blackwell, 1994. pp. xix+641. Journal of Linguistics, 31.2:435-439. http://www.jstor.org/stable/4176327

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.


Another perspective on chain shifting

This article, by Stockwell and Minkova, presents quite a bit different perspective on chain shifts, particularly the Great Vowel Shift and the Northern Cities Shift, than the one (or ones, in the case of the GVS) most variationists are typically most familiar with. As Matt Gordon also mentioned last week, it contains within it another (albeit brief) critique of Labov’s use of the Trager & Smith notation, as well.

Stockwell, Robert, and Donka Minkova. 1997. On drifts and shifts. Studia Anglica Posnaniensia, 31:283-303. http://www.ling.osu.edu/~ddurian/AWAC/Stockwell_Minkova_1997.pdf

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. http://www.ling.osu.edu/~ddurian/AWAC/Gordon_2000_Ch6.pdf

Parallel shifts vs chain shifts: More information needed?

Recent work by several sociolinguists who work on sound change issues has suggested that parallel shifts may not be as similar to classical chain shifts as some discussions have suggested (e.g., Boberg, 2005; Durian, 2009). However, given that dialects in which parallel shifting is a strong feature (e.g., the US West, US Midland, and Canada) have generally been studied less extensively than those in which chain shifts are the most salient feature (e.g., the US Northern Cities and US South), this is perhaps not surprising, given that this also means comparatively less is also known about parallel shifts for the purposes of comparison and contrast with chain shifts. Given the openness of the terrain still yet to be explored, I will be taking on parallel shifting to a significant degree in my dissertation (on the US Midland city Columbus, OH), and intend to dedicate at least full one chapter to the subject of “how they work.”

One article that personally highlights for me the relevant issues is a recent article on the Canadian Shift in Montreal by Charles Boberg. In particular, Boberg’s conclusions raise some interesting questions on the nature of parallel shifts as well as chain shifts, and how both operate.

Boberg, Charles. 2005. The Canadian Shift in Montreal. Language Variation and Change, 17:133–154. http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayJournal?jid=LVC

Look for more on this subject in my dissertation. As I get closer to have a presentable draft of the relevant chapter(s), I may post the draft material here for reader comments.

For now, see also:

– Durian, David. 2009. Purely a chain shift? An exploration of the Canadian Shift in the US Midland. Paper presented at NWAV 38.
– Gordon, Matthew J. 2001. Small-town values and big-city vowels: A study of the Northern Cities Shift in Michigan. Publication of the American Dialect Society 84. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

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