The contributions of the lips and the tongue to the diachronic fronting of high back vowels in Standard Southern British English

Jonathan Harrington*, Felicitas Kleber, Ulrich Reubold

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    24 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Recent acoustic studies have provided evidence that /u/ (goose) and /℧/ (foot) have fronted in the standard accent of England in the last fifty years, but what is less clear is whether this fronting is due entirely to a repositioning of the tongue or whether it has been accompanied by an unrounding of the lips. Four experiments were carried out to shed light on this issue. An acoustic study of anticipatory coarticulation in /s/ in the first of these suggested a similar degree of lip-protrusion for young speakers whose F2 of /u/ was raised compared with that of older speakers. Compatibly, judgments of lip-rounding elicited from cross-dubbed auditory-visual stimuli and an analysis of lip movement showed young speakers' /u/ to be produced with rounded lips. Their tongue positions and movements in the final experiment were found to be almost as advanced for /u/ as for /i/ (fleece) and nearer to a central position for lax /℧/ (foot). Taken together, these results confirm firstly, that the diachronic shift in /u/ has involved a realignment of the tongue, but not of the lips; and secondly, that the diachronic shift in /℧/ is likely to be a more recent innovation than that of its tense counterpart.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)137-156
    Number of pages20
    JournalJournal of the International Phonetic Association
    Volume41
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2011

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