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Linguistics Colloquium Series: Suzanne Wagner - Michiganders think they sound normal: Is that turning out to be true?

When: Friday, May 10, 2019
3:30 PM - 5:30 PM Central

Where: Chambers Hall, Lower Level, 600 Foster St, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Talant Abdykairov   (847) 467-3384

Group: Linguistics Department

Category: Academic


A major finding of the Atlas of North American English project (Labov, Ash & Boberg 2006) was that the regional phonologies of US English were becoming more differentiated over time. Yet over the last decade, sociolinguistic studies of US cities have reported surprisingly convergent observations of ongoing sound change, especially along the front diagonal of the vowel space (Becker f.c.). This talk will focus on the emergence of this apparently pan-US system in Lower Michigan. Regarding social motivations, I ask why this highly linguistically secure speech community would orient to a new supralocal model (Preston 2013). Regarding linguistic motivations, is the presence of the low-back merger of LOT /ɑ/ and THOUGHT /ɔ/ an essential trigger (Nesbitt, Wagner & Mason f.c.)? I’ll draw on recent work from the MSU Sociolinguistics Lab, including attitudes surveys, perceptual experiments and analysis of sociolinguistic interviews in urban and rural places (e.g. Wagner et al 2016; Savage 2017; Nesbitt 2018; Uehara & Wagner 2018; Kaczor & Coppernoll 2019 inter alia).

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