CANADIAN PRAIRIE DIALECTS: AN EXPLORATION OF ALBERTA AND SASKATCHEWAN VOWELS
Previous research has documented the English spoken in Western Canada as generally homogenous with minor variation along a spectrum from British Columbia to Northern/Western Ontario (Labov et al., 2005). This description is investigated on a narrower geographic scale, building a corpus of Southern Alberta and Saskatchewan English (SASE) and comparing the acoustic properties of SASE vowels to those of Edmonton English (EE) as observed in Thomson 2007. The corpus consists of 24 informal interviews as well as word list and passage readings. First and second formants were extracted from the word list (careful speech) context and measurable acoustic differences were found between this data and the EE description. Both speaker groups were found to have similar distributions, however /?/ and /?/ as well as /?/ and /?/ are closer to each other in SASE than in EE, suggesting possible mergers. SASE fronts /u/ and /?/, aligning with shifts noted in the western and southern United States (Clopper, 2005) but also fronts /?/, distancing itself from the Northern Cities Shift which instead describes a backing of /?/ (Labov et al., 2005). We also statistically explore differences in the vowel space using vowel overlap methods (Hay et al., 2006).
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