Date: Tue, 5 Dec 1995 10:33:49 -0600

From: "Timothy C. Frazer" mftcf[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]UXA.ECN.BGU.EDU

Subject: Re: Great Northern Vowel Shi**

On Tue, 5 Dec 1995, TERRY IRONS wrote:

Now we have returned to a significant topic for consideration, pinheads

and bubbleheads to be forgiven. What is it with all of this vowel

shift shit? I think this list needs to engage itself in a serious

discussion of Labov's hypothesis, rather than bowing down to that

name as some god or something. He was simply somebody's student who

lucked into a good situation, and so forth.

I was sitting in the airport in Lexington, waiting for a plane and I

eavesdropped on the perfect illustration of Mister Bill's famed

NVS (read Northern Vowel Shift), when i heard this yankee guy say to some

other guy, I lost my wallet in the bar last night. The concept of

shift notwithstanding, the sentence is perfectly diagnostic for the

crucial low vowels under consideration. Guess what went where. Perhaps

I'll save it for some revelatory paper at some important conference.

All of this rot and nonsense about vowel shifting buys into some major

and yet unstated assumptions about the phonoloogy/phonetics of spoken

Americn English. To say that a shift has occurred assumed that all

speakers at some point participated in some basic system. I would

suggest that some pronunciation patterns reflect not a change from this

system but a persistence of some variety historically that the generative

agenda, into which Mr. Bill buys wholsale, is not willing to acknowledge.

I'm not quite sure where you're going, Terry. Are you trying to say that

these vowel shifts do not exhibit the neogrammarian inevitability that L

and hsi students seems to ascribe to them? I would probably agree. But

I don't quite understand the intensity of your rhetoric.

Tim Frazer