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A multivariate spatial analysis of vowel formants in American English

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 August 2013

Jack Grieve*
Centre for Forensic Linguistics, School of Languages and Social Science, Aston University, Birmingham, UK
Dirk Speelman
Quantitative Lexicology and Variational Linguistics Research Unit, Department of Linguistics, University of Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
Dirk Geeraerts
Quantitative Lexicology and Variational Linguistics Research Unit, Department of Linguistics, University of Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
*Address for correspondence: Jack Grieve, Lecturer in Forensic Linguistics, Centre for Forensic Linguistics, School of Languages and Social Sciences, Aston University, Aston Triangle B4 7ET, Birmingham, UK. Email
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This paper presents the results of a multivariate spatial analysis of thirty-eight vowel formant variables measured in 236 cities from across the contiguous United States, based on the acoustic data from the Atlas of North American English. The results of the analysis both confirm and challenge the results of the Atlas. Most notably, while the analysis identifies similar patterns as the Atlas in the West and the Southeast, the analysis finds that the Midwest and the Northeast are distinct dialect regions that are considerably stronger than the traditional Midland dialect region identified in the Atlas. The analysis also finds evidence that a vowel shift is actively shaping the language of the Western United States.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2013 


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