14th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS-14)
San Francisco, CA, USA
Examination of phonetic variation in the vowels of 32 Tyneside (Newcastle) English speakers reveals that localised vowel features appear to be superseded by supra-local forms in the speech of younger informants. Classification of 2,709 tokens of /e/ and /o/ shows that ingliding diphthong variants ([ɪə] and [ʊə]) are less frequent among 16-25 year-olds than among speakers aged 45-65. Furthermore, a widespread preference for the general northern monophthongs [e:] and [o:] and the adoption of southern-type closing diphthongs [eɪ] and [oʊ] by female speakers can be observed. In both vowels the decline of localised variants and the rise of incoming forms exhibits a parallelism which is difficult to account for except by reference to structural principles operating within the vowel system phonology. This parallelism can be seen as a good example of the complementarity of internal (phonological) and external (social) forces in the progress of a sound change.
Bibliographic reference. Watt, Dominic (1999): "Phonetic variation in two Tyneside vowels: levelling in lockstep", In ICPhS-14, 1621-1624.