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bear by san

March 2017



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bear by san

Link Salad, language and literature edition


Professor William Labov, a University of Pennsylvania linguist and author of the new book Atlas of North American English Phonetics, Phonology and Sound Change, says there is a shift of vowel sounds in the inland northern cities. He calls it the "northern city shift." (All Things Considered


*chuckle* My vowel sounds shift whenever I am around anyone with an English accent. I blame it on too much British TV....

(And I swear I am not doing it deliberately!!!!)
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Cool! About time American English got as varied and the various UK English dialects, don'tcha think?

I was once at a party (20 years ago, mind you) where I was one of two Americans, and one of the Brits was holding forth that she could place any American within their region based on their accent/dialect. So I asked her to place me.

"New England," she said.

"Never been there," I replied.

"Well, then, your parents were from New England."

"They were both from Nebraska."

I think I embarrassed her after her boasting. Ah well, I'd been in a room full of Brits and UK folks, so my accent was likely corrupted by the time she was listening to me.

But New England? Give me a break...

(speaks the Western US child...)
My (Toronto born-and-raised) husband has a strange superpower -- he can tell the apparently many-and-varied Western Canada accents apart, to the point where he's got about 85% accuracy on if someone's from Yellowknife/Calgary/Winnipeg/other. I felt proud for being able to spot slightly-Canadian vowels on actors in commercials ...

Anyone can hear an Ottawa-valley accent, it's the 'You Can't Do That On Television/Strange Brew' exaggerated oooot and abooot one. But there are other Canadian vowels I can hear, I just don't know how to tell, say, Halifax from Toronto from North York from Winnipeg. Unless the Halifaxer has a strong Irish lilt, in which case I can spot THAT.