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University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics

Abstract

This paper examines two current sound changes in Canadian English (CE): the Canadian Shift (CS) and the fronting of back-upgliding vowels. Among the changes involved in the CS is the retraction of the TRAP vowel from its initial position in the low-front quadrant of the vowel space to a new position in the low-central region. Among the changes affecting the back-upgliding vowels is a forward shift in the nuclear position of the GOOSE vowel, traditionally a back vowel, whose main allophones are now located in the high-front quadrant. Thus, TRAP is shifting backwards and GOOSE is shifting forwards. These changes are demonstrated with an apparent-time analysis of the speech of 60 speakers from two age groups in three cities: Vancouver, Montreal and Halifax. The relative positions of TRAP and GOOSE in F2 space are expressed as an Index of Phonetic Innovation (IPI), calculated as the mean F2 of GOOSE subtracted from the mean F2 of TRAP. Positive IPI values, with TRAP still further forward than GOOSE, reflect comparatively conservative vowel systems, which tend to have a trapezoidal shape, with two low corners: one in the front, at TRAP, and one in the back, at the LOT vowel. Negative IPI values, with GOOSE further forward than TRAP, reflect comparatively innovative vowel systems, which tend to have a triangular shape, with retracted and lowered TRAP as the bottom corner of an inverted triangle, and LOT located on its rear side. Multivariate statistical analysis of a larger sample of 86 younger speakers from every region of Canada finds that both region and speaker sex have significant effects on the IPI. The most innovative vowel systems tend to be found among women in the most urbanized regions of Canada, particularly the metropolitan areas focused on Toronto and Vancouver, while the most conservative vowel systems tend to be found among men in the less urbanized regions, especially the Prairies and Atlantic Canada. These types are illustrated with detailed analyses of individual speakers from Montreal and Toronto.

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