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date: 11 April 2021

Abstract and Keywords

An analysis of the vowel systems of 36 African American speakers in the Philadelphia Neighborhood Corpus compares their development over the 20th century with that of the larger community. For vowels involved in changes in the White community, African Americans show very different patterns, often moving in opposite directions. The traditional split of short-a words into tense and lax categories is a more fine-grained measure of dialect relations. The degree of participation by African Americans is described by measures of bimodality, which is applied as well to the innovative nasal short-a system. The prototypical African American speakers show no bimodality in either measure, recombining the traditional tense and lax categories into a single short-a in lower mid non-peripheral position. The lack of relation between the two short-a systems is related to the high level of residential segregation.

Keywords: short-a, residential segregation, bimodality, African Americans, Philadelphia Neighborhood Corpus

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