London calling (or cooling?): Feature theory, phonetic variation, and phonological change

Main Article Content

Christian Uffmann

Abstract

This article looks at the ongoing merger of /uː/ or /ɔː/ before tautosyllabic /l/, that is, words like call(ing) and cool(ing) in London English, the reasons for this merger and how it can be captured formally. It argues that the merger is the end point of a chain of phonological consequences of a phonetic process, the gradient fronting of /uː/, which leads to a reorganisation of the vowel system. The merger can thus only be understood by looking at the properties of London (Cockney) phonology and ongoing changes in this system. On the theoretical level, this article argues that underspecification in feature theory is crucial to understand the interaction between phonetic variation and phonological change, arguing that the vowel shifts in London English start out as phonetic changes along dimensions that are featurally underspecified. Underspecification thus provides a crucial link between phonological categories and phonetic gradience.

Downloads

Download data is not yet available.

Article Details

How to Cite
Uffmann, C. (2021). London calling (or cooling?): Feature theory, phonetic variation, and phonological change. Yearbook of the Poznań Linguistic Meeting, 7(1), 181-215. Retrieved from https://pressto.amu.edu.pl/index.php/yplm/article/view/29444
Section
Articles

References

    Anderson, S. 1981. Why phonology isn’t ‘natural’. Linguistic Inquiry 12. 493–539.
    Archangeli, D. 1988. Aspects of underspecification theory. Phonology 5. 183–207.
    Bjelakovic, A. 2017. The vowels of contemporary RP: vowel formant measurements for BBC newsreaders. ELL 21. 501–532.
    Blaho, S. 2008. The syntax of phonology. (PhD dissertation, Universitetet i Tromsø.)
    Boersma, P. 2001. Praat, a system for doing phonetics by computer. Glot Interna-tional 5. 341–345.
    Boyce, S., R. Krakow & F. Bell-Berti. 1991. Phonological underspecification and speech motor organization. Haskins Laboratories Status Report on Speech Re-search 105/106, 141–152.
    Celata, C. & S. Calamnai (eds.). 2014. Advances in sociophonetics. Amsterdam: Benjamins.
    Cheshire, J., P. Kerswill, S. Fox & E. Torgersen. 2011. Contact, the feature pool and the speech community: The emergence of Multicultural London English. Journal of Sociolinguistics 15. 151–196.
    Chladkova, K. & S. Hamann. 2011. High vowels in Southern British English: /u/-fronting does not result in merger. ICPhS XVII. 476–479.
    Chomsky, N. & M. Halle. 1968. The sound pattern of English. New York: Harper & Row.
    Cox, F. 1999. Vowel change in Australian English. Phonetica 56. 1–27.
    Drager, K. 2011. Sociophonetic variation and the lemma. Journal of Phonetics 39. 694–707.
    Dresher, E. 2009. The contrastive hierarchy in phonology. Cambridge: CUP.
    Fabricius, A. 2007. Variation and change in the trap and strut vowels of RP: a real time comparison of five acoustic data sets. Journal of the International Phonetic Association 37. 293–320.
    Flemming, E. 1997. Phonetic detail in phonology: Evidence from assimilation and coarticulation. In Suzuki, K. and D. Elzinga (eds.). SWOT 1997. Coyote Papers.
    Foulkes, P. & G. Docherty. 2006. The social life of phonetics and phonology. Jour-nal of Phonetics 34. 409–438.
    Gahl, S. 2008. Time and thyme are not homophones: The effect of lemma frequency on word durations in spontaneous speech. Language 84. 475–596.
    Hale, M. & C. Reiss. 2008. The phonological enterprise. Oxford: OUP.
    Hall, D. C. 2007. The role and representation of contrast in phonological theory. (PhD dissertation, University of Toronto.)
    Hall, D. C. 2011. Phonological contrast and its phonetic enhancement: dispersedness without dispersion. Phonology 28. 1–54.
    Halle, M. 1983. On distinctive features and their articulatory implementation. NLLT 1. 91–105.
    Harris, J. 1985. Phonological variation and change: Studies in Hiberno-English. Cambridge: CUP.
    Harris, J. 1990. Derived phonological contrasts. In S. Ramsaran (ed.), Studies in the pronunciation of English: a commemorative volume in honour of A. C. Gimson, 87–105. London: Routledge.
    Harrington, J., F. Kleber & U. Reubold. 2008. Compensation for coarticulation,/u/-fronting, and sound change in standard southern British: An acoustic and per-ceptual study. Journal of the ASA 123. 2825–5835.
    Harrington, J., S. Palethorpe & C. Watson. 2000. Monophthongal vowel changes in Received Pronunciation: an acoustic analysis of the Queen’s Christmas broad-casts. Journal of the International Phonetic Association 30. 63–78.
    Hawkins, S. & J. Midgley. 2005. Formant frequencies of RP monophthongs in four age groups of speakers. Journal of the International Phonetic Association 35. 183–399.
    Hay, J. & H. Baayen. 2005. Shifting paradigms: gradient structure in morphology. Trends in CogSci 9. 342–248.
    Hughes, V., B. Haddican & P. Foulkes. 2012. The dynamics of variation and change in northern British English back vowels. Paper presented at NWAV 41, Bloom-ington IN.
    Iosad, P. 2012. Vowel reduction in Russian: no phonetics in phonology. Journal of Linguistics 48, 521–171.
    Johnson, W. & D. Britain. 2007. L-vocalisation as a natural phenomenon: Explora-tions in sociophonology. Language Sciences 29. 294–415.
    Kingston, J. & R. Diehl. 1994. Phonetic Knowledge. Language 70. 419–954.
    Kirchner, R. 1997. Contrastiveness and faithfulness. Phonology 14. 83–311.
    Labov, W. 1994. Principles of linguistic change. Volume 1: Internal factors. Oxford: Blackwell.
    Labov, W. 2001. Principles of linguistic change. Volume 2: Social factors. Oxford: Blackwell.
    Labov, W., S. Ash & C. Boberg. 2006. The atlas of North American English: Pho-netics, phonology. Berlin: de Gruyter.
    Ladefoged, P. 1980. What are linguistic sounds made of? Language 56. 485–502.
    Lohmann, A. 2018. Cut(N) and cut(V) are not homophones: Lemma frequency affects the duration of noun-verb conversion pairs. Journal of Linguistics 54. 753–377.
    Mielke, J. 2008. The emergence of distinctive features. Oxford: OUP.
    Morén, B. 2003. The parallel structures model of feature geometry. Working Papers of the Cornell Phonetics Laboratory 15. 194–470.
    Pierrehumbert, J. 2002. Word-specific phonetics. In C. Gussenhoven & N. Warner (eds). Laboratory phonology VII. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. 101–140.
    Plag, I., J. Homann & G. Kunter. 2017. Homophony and morphology: The acoustics of word-final S in English. Journal of Linguistics 53. 181–216.
    Ramsammy, M. & P. Strycharczuk. 2016. From phonetic enhancement to phonologi-cal underspecification: hybrid voicing contrast in European Portuguese. Papers in Historical Phonology 1. 285–315.
    Raphael, L. 1972. Preceding vowel duration as a cue to the perception of the voicing characteristic of word-final consonants in American English. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 51. 1296–1303.
    Röttger, T., B. Winter, S. Grawunder, J. Kirby & M. Grice. 2014. Assessing incom-plete neutralization of final devoicing in German. Journal of Phonetics 43. 11–15.
    Slight, C. 2010. Pulling Paul into the pool. Pre-L mergers in Southern English speech. BA dissertation, University of Sussex.
    Torgersen, E. & P. Kerswill. 2004. Internal and external motivation in phonetic change: Dialect levelling outcomes for an English vowel shift. Journal of Socio-linguistics 8. 23–53.
    Turton, D. 2017. Categorical or gradient? An ultrasound investigation of /l/-darkening and vocalization in varieties of English. Laboratory Phonology: Jour-nal of the Association for Laboratory Phonology 8. 1–31.
    Uffmann, C. to appear. Distinctive feature theory. Cambridge: CUP.
    Uffmann, C. & C. M. Slight. 2010. Pull poor Paul into the pool: The antics of /l/ in the English South-East. Paper presented at Manchester Phonology Meeting 18, University of Manchester, 21 May 2010.
    Wells, J. 1982. Accents of English (3 volumes). Cambridge: CUP.
    Wikström, J. 2013. An acoustic study of the RP English LOT and THOUGHT vow-els. Journal of the International Phonetic Association 43. 37–77.