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Saturday, October 12 • 10:55am - 11:20am
Davis et al.: On the nature of incipient American Raising in comparison with older varieties

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On the nature of incipient American Raising in comparison with older varieties

American Raising is a pan-regional phenomenon that entails the raising of /aɪ/ in prevoiceless environments with or without concomitant /aʊ/-raising. This phenomenon has long been established in areas adjacent to Canada (e.g. Vermont; Roberts 2007); incipient raising as a current change in progress is documented for Kansas City (Strelluf 2018) and Fort Wayne, Indiana (Berkson et al. 2017). In this paper we propose a number of phonetic and phonological diagnostics distinguishing incipient American Raising from older raising varieties.

Mature raising varieties are characterized by extension of raising to noncanonical contexts in items like spider and tiger, a metrical effect blocking raising in words like titanic and psychotic when the voiceless consonant begins the syllable with primary stress (i.e. a foot-based distribution), and consistent raising before t-flaps. Here, by examining in detail incipient /aɪ/-raising in Fort Wayne, we maintain that the lack of these characteristics is diagnostic of incipient raising.

Session abstract: American Raising
On-going work by various researchers finds that the raising of the diphthong /aɪ/ to [ʌɪ] before voiceless consonants is becoming widespread in the US, occurring in many communities in different locales (e.g. Fort Wayne, Berkson et al. 2017; Kansas City, Strelluf 2018). In U.S. varieties of English that display /aɪ/-raising, the raising generally occurs in the absence of concomitant /aʊ/-raising: we refer to this as American Raising, thereby distinguishing it from Canadian Raising. The recent emergence of American Raising in multiple, distinct locales makes it increasingly possible to document its origins and spread. This panel brings together phonologists, phoneticians and sociolinguists to address formal and sociolinguistic aspects of American Raising in different locales.  Formal aspects include questions about which words/environments are the first to raise and how raising spreads to other words/environments.  Social aspects include questions on how it spreads through social networks and the matter of what raising indexes.


Stuart Davis

Indiana University Bloomington

Kelly Berkson

Indiana University Bloomington

Alyssa Strickler

University of Colorado Boulder

Saturday October 12, 2019 10:55am - 11:20am PDT
EMU Gumwood
  S: American raising