Friday, August 31, 2012

A vowel shift in the wild

Out and about, I heard someone on a phone, spelling to make herself understood: “No, no, p-a-c-k r-a-t-s.” And then she spoke the words: “Pehk rehts! ” That’s one small instance of the Northern Cities Vowel Shift. The person on the other end of the conversation must have been in a different gear.

Thanks, Rosemary, for confirming that this pronunciation is a matter of the shift.

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comments: 2

normann said...

Thanks for linking to the vowel shift article. I knew about the diphthongization of /æ/, and the backing of /ɛ/ to a more central vowel (so that a California-born-and-raised visiting professor in the U of I German Department thought that her students were saying "tust" rather than "test" - "Is theeat gonna be on the tust?". And a Tennessee-born professor at the same place found it funny that Jane Byrne, one-term mayor of Chicago, pronounced "shocking" as if it were "shacking"...

Michael Leddy said...

I’m sure I hear these shifts all the time without noticing. Now I will be on the lookout for “tust.”