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LINGUIST List 21.4412

Thu Nov 04 2010

Diss: Phonetics/Phonology/Socioling: Piercy: 'One /a/ or two?: The ...'

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        1.     Caroline Piercy , One /a/ or two?: The phonetics, phonology and sociolinguistics of change in the TRAP and BATH vowels in the southwest of England

Message 1: One /a/ or two?: The phonetics, phonology and sociolinguistics of change in the TRAP and BATH vowels in the southwest of England
Date: 02-Nov-2010
From: Caroline Piercy <ctpiercystanford.edu>
Subject: One /a/ or two?: The phonetics, phonology and sociolinguistics of change in the TRAP and BATH vowels in the southwest of England
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Institution: University of Essex
Program: MPhil/PhD in Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2010

Author: Caroline T Piercy

Dissertation Title: One /a/ or two?: The phonetics, phonology and sociolinguistics of change in the TRAP and BATH vowels in the southwest of England.

Dissertation URL: www.carolinepiercy.info

Linguistic Field(s): Phonetics
                            Phonology
                            Sociolinguistics

Subject Language(s): English (eng)

Dissertation Director:
David Britain

Dissertation Abstract:

A question exists as to whether dialects of English in the southwest of
England have a contrast in /a/~/ɑː/. Some describe the /æ/~/ɑː/ contrast as
absent, variable or doubtful whilst others consider there to be two
phonemes, akin to RP, but differing phonetically. This thesis examines this
issue through an examination of the vowels in the TRAP, BATH, START and
PALM lexical sets.

Sociolinguistic interviews were conducted with forty speakers from
locations throughout Dorset; a county in the southwest of England. Auditory
and acoustic analyses of the quality and crucially the length of vowels
across the four lexical sets was undertaken. This analysis revealed that,
in both real and apparent time, a phonemic split is in progress. One /a/
phoneme is giving way to two phonemes /a/ and /ɑː/. This split is occurring
in a non-uniform way. The backing of the BATH lexical set was found to be
proceeding via lexical diffusion whereas the backing of /ar/, START,
appeared to be a regular 'neogrammarian' sound change.

The analysis also revealed that the short /a/ phoneme could be realised as
long before many following environments. Shared constraints, for example,
the preference for a lengthened /a/ in closed syllables and common
lengthening environments, raise the possibility that occurrences of
lengthened or tensed and raised /a/ in New York City English, Philadelphia
English and Australian English have their origins in the southwest of England.

The analysis of a further 6 phonological and 6 grammatical features reveal
that the change in /a/ is indicative of a larger, extensive attrition of
the Dorset dialect. This dialect attrition is, I argue, the result of
dialect contact and changing communities caused by large scale in and out
migration in Dorset.



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