The short-a split in a suburban area of the New York City dialect region

Allison Shapp


In American English, the most common pattern for the pronunciation of the allophones of the vowel phoneme /æ/ is the “nasal-split,” where the vowel is tense (raised, fronted) when followed by a nasal consonant and lax (lowered, backed) otherwise. In contrast, historically New York City English (NYCE) has had a “complex short-a split” with different conditioning factors for each allophone. This paper reports on new data from the eastern edge of the NYCE dialect region: suburban Nassau County, Long Island. Using word-list data from the sociolinguistic interviews of 24 high school students, aged 14-18, and 7 of their teachers and mentors, this paper shows that while young speakers in this region are moving towards the wider American nasal-split, the local version of that nasal-split still includes components of the traditional NYCE complex-split.


sociolinguistics; sociophonetics; New York City English; Long Island; short-a split; change in progress

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Copyright (c) 2018 Allison Shapp

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