Tag Archives: vowel shifts

When Americans Imitate Canadians

Last weekend’s Saturday Night Live featured, naturally, a Rob Ford sketch. As SNL has (I believe) no Canadian cast members currently, American actors Bobby Moynihan and Taran Killam played Ford and a CBC interviewer, respectively. (What might Dan Aykroyd have done with Ford … Continue reading


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 46 Comments

Vowel Shifts in English and Dutch

As I recently discussed, English shares its penchant for r-variability with other languages. This got me thinking about another dialect marker common to English and other tongues, namely what might be called the “close diphthongs.” These are vowels typically found … Continue reading


Posted in English Phonetics | Tagged , , , | 19 Comments

Right Thurr

A few years back, the rapper Chingy had a hit track entitled Right Thurr. The chorus goes something like this (forgive the awkward transcription): I like the way you do that right thurr, Switch your hips when you’re walkin’, let down your … Continue reading


Posted in American English | Tagged , | 20 Comments

British ‘LOT’, 2012

The last post inspired a brief debate in the comments section about the LOT vowel (i.e. the ‘o’ in ‘not,’ ‘Todd,’ and ‘rot’) in contemporary British English. The question, it seems, is whether this sound has shifted closer to the vowel space … Continue reading


Posted in British English | Tagged , | 24 Comments

Canadian Vowels vs. California Vowels

Canadians and Californians share more than a few passing similarities, speech-wise. After all, it didn’t take much suspension of disbelief to buy Canadian Keanu Reeves as a Valley native in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. (L.A. natives would probably disagree … Continue reading


Posted in American English | Tagged , , , | 36 Comments

The Other American Dialects

When we discuss ‘American dialects,’ we usually focus on English. And yet there are many other languages that have taken up root in the United States, a country with no real official tongue. Have non-English languages exhibited the same variety? … Continue reading


Posted in American English | Tagged , | 5 Comments

The Importance (or not?) of Vowels

Linguist Will Styler has a smart, funny website titled ‘The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Vowels.‘ In the page ‘The Anti-Vowel Agenda,’ he elucidates his gripe: Yet every day, vowels are bought and sold on national television, subjected … Continue reading


Posted in English Phonetics | Tagged , , | 13 Comments

Why Vowel Shifts?

[Ed. Note:  I’m on vacation till Saturday, July 30th, so I’m publishing some old posts that I drafted but never published for various reasons.  Some of these might be a little rough around the edges.  Also note that it may … Continue reading


Posted in English Phonetics | Tagged , | 16 Comments

A Brief Clarification About New Zealand Accents

I want to quickly clear something up about New Zealand accents, since the topic was touched upon briefly yesterday. In New Zealand English, the vowel in “short e” words like dress or bed moves very close to the vowel that Americans and … Continue reading


Posted in Miscellaneous Accents and Dialects | Tagged , , | 10 Comments