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Vague eggs and tags: Prevelar merger in Seattle

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 May 2021

Valerie Freeman
Affiliation:
Oklahoma State University

Abstract

This study describes prevelar merger, the raising of low-front /æ, ɛ/ and lowering of mid-front /e/ before the voiced velar /ɡ/, in Seattle, Washington. In the most advanced part of this change in progress, all twenty speakers (age 18–62, half men, half women, all white) produced /ɛɡ/ and /eɡ/ (beg, vague) as upgliding diphthongs merged in F1 and F2 directly between their nonprevelar counterparts (dress, face). /æɡ/ (bag) was also diphthongal, but its height varied between speakers, with middle-aged men showing near-complete three-way merger with beg-vague and younger speakers raising less, suggesting reversal or avoidance of this component. Previous work lacked information about vague and thus described bag- and beg-raising as failing to reach the height of nonprevelar face. This study revealed that vague is lowered, creating a merger target for both raised beg and bag within a separate diphthongal prevelar subsystem.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press

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