Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE (www.oxfordhandbooks.com). © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 24 April 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Chain shifts offer important insights into the phonological history of the English language—from the prehistoric chain shift of Grimm’s Law that separates the Germanic languages from the rest of Indo-European, to the Great Vowel Shift (GVS) that is widely assumed to define the boundary between Middle English and Early Modern English. A chain shift refers to a set of phonetic changes that affect a group of phonemes so that as one phoneme moves in phonetic space, another phoneme moves toward the phonetic position abandoned by the first; a third may take over the original position of the second, and (perhaps) so on. The GVS is the phenomenon or set of phenomena whereby the Middle English long monophthongs became the upgliding diphthongs of present-day English. This article focuses on a modern parallel for the GVS, a major apparent chain shift currently underway involving at least five phonemes: the Northern Cities Shift.

Keywords: chain shifts, chain shifting, English, Great Vowel Shift, phonemes, monophthongs, diphthongs, Northern Cities Shift, cycles, linguistics

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.