Mechanisms of Vowel Variation in African American English Purpose This research explored mechanisms of vowel variation in African American English by comparing 2 geographically distant groups of African American and White American English speakers for participation in the African American Shift and the Southern Vowel Shift. Method Thirty-two male (African American: n = 16, White American ... Research Article
Research Article  |   February 15, 2018
Mechanisms of Vowel Variation in African American English
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Yolanda Feimster Holt
    Communication Sciences and Disorders, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC
  • Disclosure: The author has declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The author has declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication. ×
  • Correspondence to Yolanda Feimster Holt: holty@ecu.edu
  • Editor: Julie Liss
    Editor: Julie Liss×
  • Associate Editor: Amy Neel
    Associate Editor: Amy Neel×
Article Information
Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Speech / Research Articles
Research Article   |   February 15, 2018
Mechanisms of Vowel Variation in African American English
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 2018, Vol. 61, 197-209. doi:10.1044/2017_JSLHR-S-16-0375
History: Received September 21, 2016 , Revised February 23, 2017 , Accepted October 15, 2017
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 2018, Vol. 61, 197-209. doi:10.1044/2017_JSLHR-S-16-0375
History: Received September 21, 2016; Revised February 23, 2017; Accepted October 15, 2017

Purpose This research explored mechanisms of vowel variation in African American English by comparing 2 geographically distant groups of African American and White American English speakers for participation in the African American Shift and the Southern Vowel Shift.

Method Thirty-two male (African American: n = 16, White American controls: n = 16) lifelong residents of cities in eastern and western North Carolina produced heed, hid, heyd, head, had, hod, hawed, whod, hood, hoed, hide, howed, hoyd, and heard 3 times each in random order. Formant frequency, duration, and acoustic analyses were completed for the vowels /i, ɪ, e, ɛ, æ, ɑ, ɔ, u, ʊ, o, aɪ, aʊ, oɪ, ɝ/ produced in the listed words.

Results African American English speakers show vowel variation. In the west, the African American English speakers are participating in the Southern Vowel Shift and hod fronting of the African American Shift. In the east, neither the African American English speakers nor their White peers are participating in the Southern Vowel Shift. The African American English speakers show limited participation in the African American Shift.

Conclusion The results provide evidence of regional and socio-ethnic variation in African American English in North Carolina.

Acknowledgments
This research was funded by the Communication Sciences and Disorders Department, a division of the School of Allied Health at East Carolina University.
Order a Subscription
Pay Per View
Entire Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research content & archive
24-hour access
This Article
24-hour access