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Change and stability in goose, goat and foot: back vowel dynamics in Carlisle English

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 June 2017

University of Paderborn, Department of English and American Studies, Warburger Str. 100, 33098 Paderborn,


In this article, I demonstrate that goose-fronting is taking place in Carlisle, a city in the north-west of England, and I provide detailed information about this change. The results show that similarly strong linguistic constraints are found in this variety and other varieties. A second point of discussion is the dynamics between goose and other back vowels, i.e. goat and foot, in this community. I argue that we also need to study the most adjacent back vowels in order to understand the complexity of this vowel change and the influence on nearby vowels. The data stem from interviews conducted in Carlisle between 2007 and 2010 and show that while goose is fronting across apparent time, for goat and foot no change in progress is observable. These dynamics seem to be geographically restricted to the north-west of England. While a parallel shift of goose and goat is very common in US and southern English varieties, the fronting of goat is not found in this northern variety. This lack of change is due to the monophthongal realisation of the goat vowel which prevents a parallel shift. Similarly, the fronting of foot seems to be blocked due to the lack of the foot–strut split.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2017 

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I would like to thank Claire Nance, two anonymous reviewers and the editor for their valuable comments which greatly improved this article. I would also like to thank Daniel Ezra Johnson for his help with statistics. Of course, I am responsible for any shortcomings.


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