Atlas of North American English: Phonetics, Phonology and Sound Change

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In this compelling study William Labov confirms his reputation as a brilliant and pathbreaking analyst of linguistic change.

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Particularly arresting is his approach to the Northern Cities Shift, which he relates to the settlement of upstate New York and the Great Lakes area, where socially activist Yankees established a persisting cultural pattern that has shaped the processes of dialect divergence. Linguists and historians alike will find here much to admire and ponder. Labov demonstrates that he is not simply the leading sociolinguist of the past century, but that his research is relevant to the American public. He challenges one of the most cherished, commonsense assumptions about the English language—that American dialects are becoming more homogenized—by demonstrating how linguistic and social factors have conspired to make regional and ethnic dialects in the United States more divergent than ever.

An amazing, powerful message! In , three linguists, led by William Labov of the University of Pennsylvania, christened the phenomenon What they observed may be the most important change in English pronunciation in centuries. A clear-eyed overview of recent language changes in the United States and their connection to regional and national politics.

In this well-written volume, the author draws on years of linguistic studies to demonstrate how and why the speech of Americans is diverging so sharply and how that is changing perceptions of dialect speakers A fascinating study from a distinguished scholar. University of Virginia Press P.

Skip to main content. Armed with the framework provided by ANAE,researchers can examine urban speech in greater detail with a moresociolinguistically diverse sample or they can investigate the speechpatterns of the rural areas that lie between the cities surveyed by ANAE. In this way, a full evaluation of the validity of the dialect boundariesposited by Labov and his colleagues must await this future research. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that the authors have taken certain stepsto facilitate comparative studies.

Consider, for example, the maps inChapter 10 Part C , which offer F1 and F2 comparisons for each vowel. These maps present the basic material that the ANAE authors draw theirregional classifications from, but much of the information in these maps isfor various reasons not taken up in the construction of the broaderpicture. If the authors were interested solely in arguing for a particularview of North American dialects, the inclusion of all of these 38 full-pagemaps would be a waste of space and resources.

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Fortunately, their aim isnot so narrow. The systematic profiling of height and frontness differencesfor each vowel seems to have been done here in the spirit of providing ascomplete a speech record as possible, the same spirit that guided earlierwork in dialect geography and can be seen, for example, in the vowel''synopses'' of individual informants included by Kurath and McDavid It is likely that follow-up research will take advantage of the full recordthat ANAE offers just as has happened with the record left by Kurath andMcDavid and others who worked in the linguistic atlas tradition see e.

Thomas Further contributing to this likelihood is the fact mentionedabove, that ANAE authors have made available, on the accompanying CD-ROMand through the website, much of their raw data, the measurements of F1 andF2 for each vowel from each of over speakers together with demographicdetails about them. ANAE does, of course, argue for a particular view of North Americandialects, and central to any judgment on that view is an assessment of thelinguistic features that define the various regions.

Despite the briefdetour taken in Chapter 21, ANAE is a study of pronunciation, and theregional picture is based exclusively on phonological variables.

The Atlas of North American English

One mightcriticize this focus as overly narrow though much of the previous work onAmerican dialects e. Carver was based on a comparably narrow setof linguistic features.

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Indeed the phonological patterns studied here arecertainly of greater structural significance than the lexical variables onwhich many previous studies concentrated. A kind of structuralist reasoningis in fact critical to much of ANAE's argumentation. Vowels are seen asorganized by subsystems rather than as individual elements.

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Thus, observedsound changes are commonly viewed in terms of relations among subsystems ofvowels rather than as isolated developments. The value of viewing sound changethrough a structuralist prism stems from the inference of such generalpatterns, many of which have been developed and defended in earlier work e. Labov Ideally the patterns are useful not only for explainingobserved changes but also for predicting future developments.

Understanding why Southern speechis taking this direction of change over other structural alternativesrequires greater consideration of historical and sociolinguistic trendsthan is possible with the ANAE data. Many readers will be interested more in the regional divisions proposed byANAE than by the structural forces at play in the vowel system. On thisscore, we might question some of the particular phonological patterns thatare identified by ANAE as characteristic of certain regions.

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Previous Figure Next Figure. Please state download atlas of north to usher all the artists on this root. Pages with related products. Forgot your password? The value of viewing sound changethrough a structuralist prism stems from the inference of such generalpatterns, many of which have been developed and defended in earlier work e. Customer Reviews Average Review.

It is easy toaccept, for example, the North as a dialect region defined by the NorthernCities Shift since this pattern involves several structurally relatedfeatures all of which occur in heavy concentration in this area and almostexclusively there. The evidence for some of the other regional divisions isless convincing. Still, they are upfront about tenuousness of thisdefinition of the region More importantly they incorporate intotheir analysis a metric of the strength of the proposed dialect boundariesby including calculations of how uniformly the linguistic features aredistributed within a region and how often they occur outside that region.

These figures indicate that not all of the proposed isoglosses should begiven equal weight. Unfortunately the maps displaying these isoglosses donot reflect such differences.

Atlas of North American English: Phonetics, Phonology, and Sound Change [CD-ROM]

Labov, William / Ash, Sharon / Boberg, Charles. The Atlas of North American English. Phonetics, Phonology and Sound Change. DE GRUYTER MOUTON. The Atlas of North American English: Phonetics, Phonology and Sound Change [ Professor William Labov, Sharon Ash, Associate Professor of Linguistics.

As these comments suggest, this book has a tremendous amount of analyticaldetail to offer interested readers. Still, the authors and editors seem tosuspect that few people are likely to read the book from cover to cover,and they have taken steps in the design to make ANAE quite easy to browse. For example, directly beneath each map is a paragraph-long caption thathighlights key patterns in the data.

In this way, they spare the readerfrom having to hunt down the relevant discussion in the text, thoughreaders who wish to locate that discussion are aided by the placement ofsymbols in the margins of the text designating the section where aparticular map is treated. While such steps improve the usability of ANAE,it would be a mistake to think this book is accessible to general readersor anyone lacking training in phonetics.

Atlas of North American English: Phonetics, Phonology, and Sound Change [CD-ROM]

Finally, accessibility of a different kind is an issue forspecialists and non-specialists alike due to the book's price. However,readers who have access to the online edition through their institutionscan download the entire book as a PDF file from the project's website. In sum, ANAE is a welcome addition to scholarship in American dialectologyas well as in the sociolinguistic study of language change.

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The picture itpaints of North American dialects in part confirms regional divisionsestablished by previous research and also uncovers new patterns resultingfrom emerging trends. To be sure, the methodology of this project - theconcentration on urban speech, the focus on vowel pronunciation, thereliance on acoustic measurements, etc. Still this study remains unprecedented in its broad scope,and the authors succeed in laying out a useful framework for examiningphonological variation on this continent. ANAE is a landmark study thatwill shape research trends for years to come.

AnnArbor: University of Michigan Press.

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Kurath, Hans and Raven I. McDavid, Jr. The Pronunciation of Englishin the Atlantic States. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Atlas of North American English : Phonetics, Phonology and Sound Change

Labov, William. Oxford: Blackwell. Thomas, Erik R. Trager, George L.