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Overlap among back vowels before /l/ in Kansas City

  • Christopher Strelluf (a1)

This research examines pre-/l/ allophones of vowels in five lexical sets—GOOSE, FOOT, GOAT, STRUT, and THOUGHT—in Kansas City. It builds an acoustic profile from 5507 tokens drawn from interviews with 67 Kansas Citians born between 1955 and 1999. Results reveal a variety of overlap patterns among all five vowels, with the most widespread being overlap between the pre-/l/ allophones of FOOT, STRUT, and GOAT. Acoustically, overlap patterns generally do not show a trend of change in apparent time. However, responses to minimal pairs reveal substantial apparent-time increases in judgments of “close” or “same.” Speakers appear to adjust their productions of vowels to match their minimal pair judgments. The interaction of these productions and judgments indicates a different profile for these five vowels than has been observed in other communities and suggests that some of these vowels have become phonemically ambiguous in Kansas City.

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Language Variation and Change
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