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The Mysterious Uniformity of the Northern Cities Shift. William Labov, University of Pennsylvania. Methods XIII Leeds August 8, 2008. William Labov Home Page www.ling.upenn.edu/~labov. Some substantial differences in dialectology. New World Old World

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the mysterious uniformity of the northern cities shift

The Mysterious Uniformity of the Northern Cities Shift

William Labov, University of Pennsylvania

Methods XIII Leeds August 8, 2008

some substantial differences in dialectology
Some substantial differences in dialectology

New World Old World

Time Depth 200 years 2000 years

Spatial range 3000 mile 500 miiles

Major tendency Divergence Dialect leveling

Variables Phonological Phonological/Morphological,

Level of awareness Low High

the trajectory of this inquiry into the mysterious uniformity of the northern cities shift
The trajectory of this inquiry into the mysterious uniformity of the Northern Cities Shift

The discovery of the NCS in several Northern cities.

The triggering event of the NCS in western New York state.

The westward expansion to the Inland North.

Differentiation of the NCS by social class and gender.

The uniformity of the NCS throughout the Inland North.

Ideological background from settlement history.

Modern day reflections. . .

the northern cities shift in chicago experiments on cross dialectal comprehension 1989
The Northern Cities Shift in ChicagoExperiments on Cross-Dialectal Comprehension, 1989

Word Phrase Sentence

1 . ______ _____________ ___________________

2. ______ _____________ ___________________

3. ______ _____________ ___________________

4. ______ _____________ ___________________

the northern cities shift
The Northern Cities Shift

desk

busses

mat

head

boss

block

socks

the telsur project

• designed to obtain a comprehensive view of the phonological changes in progress in the English of North America

• a telephone survey of all cities of population 50,000 and over

• names chosen from local telephone directories, concentrating on major ethnic groups of that city

• first 2 subjects who were locally born and raised accepted as representative of that city (4 to 6 in the largest cities)

• 762 speakers interviewed representing 325 cities, most 1992-1999

conversation on local developments

elicitation of particular words

perception and production of minimal pairs

semantic differential:

e.g., what’s the difference between a bag and a sack?

• acoustic analyses of systems of 439 speakers, 130,000 vowels

• provided data for the Atlas of North American English, (Berlin: Mouton/degruyter, 2006.

The Telsur Project

extended sample of speech from sharon k 35 rochester ts 359
Extended sample of speech from Sharon K., 35, Rochester, TS 359

Sharon K. is an advanced speaker of the Northern Cities Shift. Listen

for the raising and fronting of short a in Catholic, adding, taxes, fact

fronting of short /o/ inmodeling, lot

backing of short /e/ insend, went, sending

fronting of /ay/ in nine

backing of /i/ in tuition

Yeah, well I send my kids to private school, but--across the street from me is a Catholic school, y’know I send ‘em there. I went there, in fact I live in the house that I grew up in. We’re re-modeling right now, uh adding on to the family room, and doing the work. We-we like the neighborhood, and we feel very comfortable here. We like all the neighbors, y’know, neighbors I’ve known since I was nine. Bishop Parity behind us, but I don’t know if we’re gonna be sending him there. The tuition could be very expensive. As it is now, we’re paying a lot for public. . .Y’know we pay a lot of--taxes are very high here.

northern cities shift in the vowel system of april s 20 rochester ny ts360
Northern Cities Shift in the vowel system of April S., 20, Rochester NY, TS360

KIT

STRUT

TRAP

THOUGHT

DRESS

LOT

migration to the rochester area
Migration to the Rochester area

Kniffen and Glassie 1966, Fig. 7

community movement
Community movement

Mass migrations were indeed congenial to the Puritan tradition. Whole parishes, parson and all, had sometimes migrated from Old England. Lois Kimball Mathews mentioned 22 colonies in Illinois alone, all of which originated in New England or in New York, most of them planted between 1830 and 1840.

--Richard L. Power, Planting Corn Belt Culture: The Impress of the Upland Southerner and Yankee in the old Northwest, 1953. P. 14.

the impact of the erie canal

The impact of the Erie Canal

The impact on the rest of the State can be seen by looking at a modern map.  With the exception of Binghamton and Elmira, every major city in New York falls along the trade route established by the Erie Canal, from New York City to Albany, through Schenectady, Utica and Syracuse, to Rochester and Buffalo.  Nearly 80% of upstate New York's population lives within a 25 miles of the Erie Canal.

The Erie Canal: A Brief History

No established village had ever mushroomed so rapidly [as Rochester], growing from 1507 to 9207 within a ten year span

- Blake McKelvey, A Panoramic View of Rochester History. Rochester History 11:2-24.

input of short a systems to cities on the erie canal 1817 1825
Input of short-a systems to cities on the Erie Canal, 1817-1825

nasal (WNE)

broad (Boston)

continuous (SWNE)

split (NYC)

westward expansion
Westward expansion

--A. Wexler. Atlas of Westward Expansion. NY: Facts on File, 1995. p. 64

slide28

Rochester

Detroit

slide31
Gender and social category determination of five elements of the Northern City Shift in a Detroit suburban high school

æ

^

TRAP LOT THOUGHT DRESS STRUT

Source: Eckert 2000

settlement patterns shown by diffusion of building methods from seaboard nuclei
Settlement patterns shown by diffusion of building methods from seaboard nuclei

--Kniffen & Glassie 1966. Fig. 27

means of six northern cities shift vowels in the speech of sharon k rochester
Means of six Northern Cities Shift vowels in the speech of Sharon K., Rochester

EQ: /æ/ higher and backer than /e/

AE1: /æ/ < 700 Hz

UD: /^/ back of /o/

ED: F2(e) - F2(o) < 375 Hz

ncs vowels in the system of a midland speaker mimi p 31 45 2000 indianapolis in ts 775
NCS vowels in the system of a Midland speaker, Mimi P., 31 45 [2000], Indianapolis IN, TS 775

EQ: /e/ higher than /æ/

F1

700

UD: /^/ front of /o/

AE1: /æ/ > 700 Hz

ED: F2(e) - F2(o) > 375 (523 Hz)

u s at night
U.S. at Night

The Inland North

Grand Rapids

Milwaukee

Syracuse

Chicago

Rochester

Flint

Buffalo

Detroit

Cleveland

Kenoshat

Joliet

Toledo

fridland s view of african american participation in the weakening of ay in memphis
Fridland’s view of African-American participation in the weakening of /ay/ in Memphis

Tie, tied and tIght: the expansion of /ay/ monophthongization in African-American and European-American speech in Memphis, Tennessee. Journal of Sociolinguistics 7:279-298, 2000.

social correlates of four measures of the northern cities shift n 71
Social correlates of four measures of the Northern Cities Shift [N=71]

Age Female Years of

25 yrs Gender Education

AE1 34* 8.6*

EQ 34* 26*

ED 112*** H.S. -68*

UD 37 -16*

*** P < .001, * P < .05

settlement patterns of four regional cultures
Settlement patterns of four regional cultures

Yankee Virginia Quaker Upland South

Settlement Towns Plantations Farm Isolated villages clusters

House location Roadside Setback Corner- Creek clusters & spring

Internal Low Moderate High Very high migration

Persistence 75-96% 50-75% 40-60% 25-40%

David Hackett Fisher, Albion’s Seed, p. 814

an ideological opposition dividing the inland north from the midland
An ideological opposition dividing the Inland North from the Midland

...among the new arrivals to Jefferson [County, Indiana] was a species of settler strikingly different in outlook from small southern [upland] farmers. . . these newcomers not only displayed a disgusting predilection for self-improvement schemes but were also fond of pointing out out their virtues to those who took life at a less feverish pace.

It was the Yankees who were described as yearning to constitute a social and cultural elite that would sponsor and support higher education, literary societies, and lecture courses, and follow their inclination to regulate the morals of the whole society.

--Richard L. Power, Planting Corn Belt Culture: The Impress of the Upland Southerner and Yankee in the old Northwest, 1953

the meddling yankee
The meddling Yankee

Taxed with being busybodies and meddlars, apologists own that the instinct for meddling, as divine as that of self-reservation, runs in the Yankee blood; that the typical New Englander was entirely unable, when there were wrongs to be corrected, to mind his own business.

--Richard L. Power, Planting Corn Belt Culture: The Impress of the Upland Southerner and Yankee in the old Northwest, 1953, P. 6.

the yankee perspective
The Yankee perspective

One of the most distinguishing features of the Yankees of the 19th century had been their confidence that theirs was a superior vision and that America’s future depended on their ability to impose their order on the life of the nation. . . They established thousands of public schools and private colleges, filled churches and lodge halls with committed believers, and codified their version of morality in the statute books.

--Morain, Thomas J. 1988. Prairie Grass Roots: An Iowa Small Town in the Early Twentieth century. Ames, IA: Iowa State University Press. P. 256

correcting midland speech patterns
Correcting Midland speech patterns

At Greensburg in southeastern Indiana, the Reverend J. R. Wheelock advised his eastern sponsors that his wife had opened a school of 20 or 30 scholars in which she would use “the most approved N.E. school books,” to be obtained by a local merchant from Philadelphia. “She makes defining a distinct branch of study and this gives her a very favorable oppy. of correcting the children & thro’ them, the parents of ‘a heap’ of Kentuckyisms.”

--Richard L. Power, Planting Corn Belt Culture: The Impress of the Upland Southerner and Yankee in the old Northwest, 1953, P. 114.

tim frazer the language of yankee cultural imperialism
Tim Frazer, “The language of Yankee Cultural Imperialism”

...we must learn what led to the establishment of Inland Northern as a prestige dialect in the Great Lakes region; we need to understand as well why scholars like Kenyon, George Phillip Krapp and Hans Kurath...embraced the concept of Inland Northern as a General American.”

Perhaps the language of “Yankee cultural imperialism” was appropriate for a century of corporate expansion, leveraged buyouts, and American military intervention in the Philippines, Central America, the Caribbean, Vietnam, and the Middle East.

from “Heartland” English., ed. T. Frazer, U. of Alabama Pres, 1993.Pp. 60, 66.

yankee ideology and american reform movements
Yankee ideology and American reform movements

Imbued with the notion that their was a superior vision, Yankees dutifully accepted their responsibility for the moral and intellectual life of the nation and set about to do what needed to be done, with or without an invitation from the uneducated, the undisciplined, the disinterested, or the unmotivated

Cultural uplift Yankee style also meant attacking sin and sloth. The initial settlement of Iowa coincided with three very active decades for American reform movements. Health fads, prison reform, women’s rights, crusades for new standards of dress---the northern states teemed with advocates of one cause or another.

Most important among the reform movements of the day were the issues of abolition and temperance.

Morain, Thomas J. 1988. Prairie Grass Roots: An Iowa Small Town in the Early Twentieth century. The Henry A. Wallace Series on Agricltural History and Rural Studies. Ames, IA: Iowa State University Press.

passage 1 in experiment 1 from sabrina k 37 detroit mi ts 176
Passage 1 in Experiment 1 (from Sabrina K., 37, Detroit MI, TS 176)
  • short o fronting
  • short a raising
  • oh lowering

The--the way I got hired for this one job was really weird, ‘cause I went in for a . . . secretarial position is what I went in for, and they had hired. . .ah-- somebody else that didn’t know anything, but it was a buyer’s daughter, so then she got the job. And uh--they called me because I had done shipping and receiving as far as--the paper work, and they had asked me if I‘d help out ‘cause their--shipper had just had a heart attack and she wasn’ comin’ back for a while.

passage 2 in experiment 1 from mimi p 45 2000 indianapolis in ts 775
Passage 2 in Experiment 1 (from Mimi P., 45 [2000], Indianapolis IN, TS 775)
  • short o back of center
  • tense a before nasals; lax a, e in that
  • awfronting
  • ^ fronting

I read, a-n-nd like most women, I like to go shopping and play card games with family and friends and that kind of thing, nothing really exciting. We used to go camping quite a bit on the weekends, but our lives have shifted enough that we don’t do that much right now, but uh that’s what we do.

slide65
Cities assigned to Detroit and Indianapolis speakers by student listeners at Indiana University [N=90]
slide66

Political opinions ascribed to an Inland North (Detroit) and Midland (Indianapolis) speaker by students at U. of Indiana, Bloomington [N=90]

No significant difference in judgments of intelligence, trustworthiness, education;

Midland speaker judged more friendly (p < .00001)

general principles of chain shifting
General principles of chain shifting

Tense vowels rise along the peripheral track.

Lax nuclei fall along the nonperipheral track

Back vowels move to the front

an image of the swimmer in the bay
An image of the swimmer in the bay. . .

does the Australian crawl, the breast stroke, backstroke, the butterfly, back to the crawl again

and thinks to himself, “I am really making this current move!”

the mysterious uniformity of the inland north
The mysterious uniformity of the Inland North

does not eliminate social variation

is the structural base on which social variation is built

is itself the product of social forces larger than local identity

that we are only beginning to understand