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ERIC Number: ED539693
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 163
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-2672-1958-9
Changes in Wisconsin English over 110 Years: A Real-Time Acoustic Account
Delahanty, Jennifer
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, The University of Wisconsin - Madison
The growing set of studies on American regional dialects have to date focused heavily on vowels while few examine consonant features and none provide acoustic analysis of both vowel and consonant features. This dissertation uses real-time data on both vowels and consonants to show how Wisconsin English has changed over time. Together, the recordings (from the Dictionary of Regional American English and my own fieldwork) represent 110 years of speaker data from which I extracted tokens used to compare four phonetic features commonly attributed to Wisconsin English: specifically /o/, /u/, stopping in interdental fricatives, and final fortition. Analysis was performed using Praat, a software tool for phonetic speech analysis. Results of the analysis showed phonetic changes over time in each of the features presented. These changes suggest that a process of koineization has taken place, fueled by speakers of phonologically similar European immigrant languages that came into contact with one another. Although immigrants came from many countries that influenced the dialect that developed, I focus on the example of German immigrants here. Contact between immigrant groups (German, Norwegian, and Polish for example) strengthened the likelihood that grammatical features would not be subject to leveling and would persist long after immigration to the state diminished. The oldest speakers generally showed evidence of remnants of the immigrant language declined as communities moved to English. The younger speakers generally showed evidence that the features are again coming to the forefront although produced in different ways. The data also showed that consonant features play a very strong role in defining Wisconsin English as a regional dialect. Both stopping and final fortition are features that Wisconsinites often use to describe regional speech characteristics. Both features have at one time marked a speaker's ethnic background but have over time moved instead toward defining Wisconsin English as a regional dialect. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Wisconsin