Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Philadelphia shifts to a Northern accent

Date:
March 26, 2013
Source:
Linguistic Society of America
Summary:
The traditional Southern inflections associated with the Philadelphia regional accent are increasingly being displaced by Northern influences. A recent study documents this trend through an analysis of Philadelphia neighborhood speech patterns over more than a century.

A new study by University of Pennsylvania linguists shows that the Philadelphia accent has changed in the last century. The traditional Southern inflections associated with Philadelphia native-born speakers are increasingly being displaced by Northern influences.

"A Hundred Years of Sound Change," published in the March issue of the journal Language, documents Philadelphia's changing accent through an analysis of speech patterns of city residents spanning more than a century.

The study is co-authored by William Labov, professor of linguistics and director of Penn's Linguistics Laboratory; Josef Fruehwald, a doctoral candidate in linguistics at Penn; and Ingrid Rosenfelder, a postdoctoral student at Penn at the time of the National Science Foundation supported study.

Labov and his team developed new computational methods to research the way in which vowels have been pronounced by Philadelphians since 1973.

"This is a breathtaking view of language change over a long period of time," Labov said. Approximately 1,000 people were involved in the study with 380 analyzed so far.

Nearly a million measurements show that two-thirds of the Philadelphia vowels are in the process of change. In one instance, the vowel used in the word "ate" has steadily moved closer to the vowel of "eat," as shown by the speaker's date of birth from 1888 to 1992. The change in progress affects equally people of all educational levels, both men and women.

"A 'snake' in the grass becomes a 'sneak' in the grass as the long vowel 'a' is pronounced with the speaker's jaw in a higher position," Labov said.

The vowel of "out" and "down" has reversed direction, after moving toward a distinctively different Philadelphia sound for the first half of the century. For those born in the 1950s and later, this vowel moved progressively back towards the position it held in 1900.

The paper looks for an explanation of these differences in the relation of Philadelphia to its geographic neighbors. In the earlier period, many Philadelphia features resembled those found in Southern dialects, and these are the changes that have reversed direction.

Those that have not are movements towards patterns heard in the Northern dialects of western New England, New York state and the Great Lakes Region. The "Northernization" of the Philadelphia region is related to other findings on the direction of linguistic change in North America.

Local dialects are receding among younger speakers in the Southern states, while new sound changes are advancing steadily among younger speakers in the North.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Linguistic Society of America. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. William Labov, Ingrid Rosenfelder, Josef Fruehwald. One Hundred Years of Sound Change in Philadelphia: Linear Incrementation, Reversal, and Reanalysis. Language, 2013; 89 (1): 30 DOI: 10.1353/lan.2013.0015

Cite This Page:

Linguistic Society of America. "Philadelphia shifts to a Northern accent." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 March 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130326101528.htm>.
Linguistic Society of America. (2013, March 26). Philadelphia shifts to a Northern accent. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130326101528.htm
Linguistic Society of America. "Philadelphia shifts to a Northern accent." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130326101528.htm (accessed April 23, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) NBC's "Today" conducted an experiment to see if changing the size of plates and utensils affects the amount individuals eat. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Do We Get Nicer With Age?

Do We Get Nicer With Age?

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) A recent report claims personality can change over time as we age, and usually that means becoming nicer and more emotionally stable. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How to Master Motherhood With the Best Work/Life Balance

How to Master Motherhood With the Best Work/Life Balance

TheStreet (Apr. 22, 2014) In the U.S., there are more than 11 million couples trying to conceive at any given time. From helping celebrity moms like Bethanny Frankel to ordinary soon-to-be-moms, TV personality and parenting expert, Rosie Pope, gives you the inside scoop on mastering motherhood. London-born entrepreneur Pope is the creative force behind Rosie Pope Maternity and MomPrep. She explains why being an entrepreneur offers the best life balance for her and tips for all types of moms. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sorry, Guys, Only Women Can Make Their Voices Sound Sexier

Sorry, Guys, Only Women Can Make Their Voices Sound Sexier

Newsy (Apr. 21, 2014) According to researchers at Albright College, women have the ability to make their voices sound sexier, but men don't. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins