Date: Sat, 9 May 1998 21:24:37 -0500
From: "Donald M. Lance"
Subject: Re: St Louis Blues

David Sutcliffe wrote on 25 April 1998:
(I'm working on a backlog of e-mail.)

>This reminded me of the research William Labov, Sherry Ash & associates
>are doing on vowel shift chains. They are convinced that a great
>Northern vowel shift is under way in the northern cities of Chicago,
>Detroit, etc. and are also convinced there's a great Southern vowel
>vowel shift in progress throughout the South. This leaves the cities in
>the middle, Cincinatti and westwards, and here they find that each major
>city is going its own sweet way (Labov, pers. communication 1995). I'm
>not sure what they say about St Louis, but it would be enlightening to
>talk to them about this.

Labov now has some telephone data from Missouri. He started with 4 or so
interviews in the larger cities. A couple of years ago he gave a paper on
his Missouri data, but I can't remember all the particulars. You can see
the latest version of his research in a couple of ways. You can find
"Phonological Atlas of the US" in the ADS' "Language-Related Resources":

Or you can go to Labov's website directly:

(I'm giving this redundant cyber-info both for Sutcliffe and for anyone
else who did not know of the ADS resource or Labov's website.)

The maps in his 1996 paper show evidence of the Northern Cities Shift (NCS)
in St. Louis. In my experience, during the 1970s and 1980s most St Louis
County students had fully adopted the NCS, but in the 1990s their younger
siblings and nieces/nephews/children seemed to be doing something else.

Labov told me (Jan 1998, personal communication at ADS) that his team is
finding a corridor of NCS from Chicago to St. Louis.

>At all events the situation they describe seems
>to bear out the three-way division: Northern, Midland, Southern, which
>was recently questioned.

Yes, Missouri data tend to support the N-M-S tripartite division, though
it's by no means a simple matter.