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Country ideology and the California Vowel Shift

  • Robert J. Podesva (a1), Annette D'Onofrio (a1), Janneke Van Hofwegen (a1) and Seung Kyung Kim (a1)

Addressing the dearth of variation research in nonurban, noncoastal regions of California, this study examines the extent to which speakers in Redding, an inland community just north of the Central Valley, participate in the California Vowel Shift (CVS). We acoustically analyze the fronting of the back vowels boot and boat, the raising of ban and backing of bat, and the merger of bot and bought, in sociolinguistic interviews with 30 white lifelong residents. Results reveal a change in apparent time for all analyzed variables, indicating the CVS's progression through the community, though not as robust as in urban, coastal areas. Additionally, we provide evidence that shifting patterns for different vowels are structured by the ideological divide between town and country. Thus, as the CVS spreads through Redding, speakers utilize particular features of the shift differently, negotiating identities relevant in California's nonurban locales.

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