"Dialect B" on the Mississippi: An acoustic study of /aw/ raising patterns in Greater New Orleans, Louisiana


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Open Library of Humanities


"Dialect B,"a diphthong raising pattern conditioned by a following obstruent's surface voicing, was first observed by Joos (1942) among Canadian schoolchildren. It has rarely been documented for /ai/ (Berkson, Davis, & Strickler, 2017) and has never been documented for /aw/ in any North American English variety. Phonetic /aw/ raising, which has raised nuclei in words like "out"but not in words like "loud"or "outer,"contrasts with more widely documented phonological /aw/ raising, which has raised nuclei in words like "out"and "outer"but not in words like "loud."In the current study, we examined /aw/ productions from 36 white suburban speakers of Greater New Orleans English, a variety where /aw/ raising before voiceless consonants is a change in progress (Carmichael, 2020b). We classified speakers into three raising patterns: none, phonetic, and phonological. All three raising patterns were present in our data set. This study thus constitutes the first acoustic documentation of a phonetic /aw/ raising pattern produced by a North American English speaker. Additionally, we probe the acoustic implementations of the patterns to analyze phonetic enhancement post-phonologization. These analyses add to descriptions of Greater New Orleans English patterns and build on recent work examining incipient vowel shifts.



Linguistics, New Orleans, Accents