4 Lesson n°4

4.1 Correction

Word Stress Pattern IPA (RP) Received Pronunciation General American
age /1/ /eɪdʒ/ /eɪdʒ/
jinx /1/ /dʒɪŋks/ /dʒɪŋks/
shake /1/ /ʃeɪk/ /ʃeɪk/
chair /1/ /tʃeə/ /tʃer/
once /1/ /wʌns/ /wʌns/
music /10/ /’mjuːz.ɪk/ /’mjuːz.ɪk/
ink /1/ /ɪŋk/ /ɪŋk/
lamb /1/ /læm/ /læm/
choke /1/ /tʃəʊk/ /tʃoʊk/
Word Stress Pattern IPA (RP) Received Pronunciation General American
straight /1/ /streɪt/ /streɪt/
sustain /01/ /sə.’steɪn/ /sə.’steɪn/
work /1/ /wɜːk/ /wɜ˞ːk/
remind /01/ /ri.’maɪnd/ /ri.’maɪnd/
damp /1/ /dæmp/ /dæmp/
though /1/ /ðəʊ/ /ðoʊ/
note /1/ /nəʊt/ /noʊt/
scythe /1/ /saɪð/ scythe
lucky /10/ /’lʌk.i/ /’lʌk.i/
wall /1/ /wɔːl/ /wɔːl/
Word Stress Pattern IPA (RP) Received Pronunciation General American
these /1/ /ðiːz/ /ðiːz/
figure /10/ /’fɪg.ə/ /’fɪg.ər/
break /1/ /breɪk/ /breɪk/
vaccine /10/ /’væks.iːn/ /ˌvæks.’iːn/
low /1/ /ləʊ/ /loʊ/
throw /1/ /θrəʊ/ /θroʊ/
land /1/ /lænd/ /lænd/
foam /1/ /fəʊm/ /foʊm/
spoon /1/ /spuːn/ /spuːn/
healthy /10/ /’helθ.i/ /’helθ.i/

4.2 /æ/ in American

We follow Labov (2010).

Images are from wikipedia

4.2.1 An example of sound changes: the NCS

The Northern Cities Shift is a rotation of short vowels taking place in the Inland North, a territory comprising 34 million speakers.

▲Map of the Inland North

▲The Northern Cities Shift

Assumed order of the rotation:

  1. General raising and fronting of /æ/ (“bat”)

  2. Fronting of /ɒ/ (“got”)

  3. Lowering of /ɔː/ (“bought”)

  4. Backward shift of /e/ (“bet”) towards /ʌ/

  5. Backing and rounding of /ʌ/

  6. Backing of /ɪ/ (“bit”)

This rotation of short vowels is a remarkable development, given the relative stability of the English short vowel system from old English up to the twentieth century (p.112).

No other dialect shows such a generalized tensing and raising (p.113).

4.2.2 Let’s focus on /æ/

While a is raised and fronted in particular context by almost all speakers of North American English, a historical process in this particular area has eliminated all contextual conditions (p.114).

All other dialects with short-a raising will differentiate prenasal vowels from others (p.113).

4 types of short-a systems originating from upstate New-York:

  1. The nasal system: allophonic tensing of /æ/ before nasal consonants, and nowhere else (New England)

  2. The nasal system with the broad-a pattern: “aunt”, “can’t”, “half”, “past” (newer settlers)

  3. The split short-a system: tensing in syllables closed by voiced stops, voiceless fricatives and front nasals — along with many grammatical and lexical specifications (cf. “mad”, “bad”, “glad” vs. “sad” and “dad” in Philadelphia).

  4. The Celtic substrate: speakers of Hiberno-English, where short a is low front or low entral.

This of course leads to misunderstandings…

4.2.3 NCS-induced misunderstandings

The following examples show what non-NCS speakers understood.

  • Correct the examples to what was actually meant.

  • Say which step of the NCS these misunderstandings were caused by (1/2/3/4/5/6).

This area is full of bets.
Do you have any pots in the house?
We trucked across Wisconsin.
Senior citizens living on the black.
The Express Way is jammed salad.

4.2.4 Other misunderstandings

Can you formulate why the following misunderstandings happened, using phonetic concepts?

Meant Understood
accountable to the data a cannibal to the data
she makes us slave she makes us leave
can I pour us both juice can I pour a spoke juice

4.3 Les catégories de voyelles

Essayez d’établir une typologie des 20 voyelles de la RP.

  • checked steady-state vowels: /ɪ e æ ɒ ʊ ʌ/ & /ə/ (!!)

  • Free steady-state: /iː aː ɔː uː ɜː/

  • Diphthongs:

    • centring: /ɪə ʊə/
    • closing:
      • Fronting: /eɪ aɪ ɔɪ/
      • Backing: /əʊ aʊ/

Il manque une voyelle… Laquelle ?

/ɛː/, ou /əe/

4.4 Homework

Listen to the following words and transcribe them:


Listen to the following words and transcribe them:



Labov, William. 2010. Principles of Linguistic Change: Cognitive and Cultural Factors. Vol. 3. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.