Variation in /æ/ in Montreal and New Brunswick English: With reference to the Canadian Shift


In this paper, we aim to determine whether the lowering or retraction of /æ/ has spread to the Eastern Canadian region of New Brunswick. We address the question of regional, generational, and phonetic context differences of /æ/ in Montreal and New Brunswick to determine whether /æ/ is currently undergoing sound change associated with the Canadian Shift. Linear mixed models reveal that speakers from Montreal exhibit significantly lower /æ/ than those from New Brunswick, suggesting that Montreal and New Brunswick are at different stages of the lowering and retraction of /æ/ with respect to the Canadian Shift. The comparison of generational differences across the two regions shows that /æ/ is much lower in younger speakers than in older speakers only in New Brunswick. Furthermore, the phonetic contexts show that raising environments (i.e. /æN/ and /æg/) resist the vowel shift to a much larger degree than elsewhere contexts.

University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada