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New England English refers to the dialects of English spoken in the New England area. These include the Eastern New England dialect (ENE), the Western New England dialect (WNE), and some Subdialects within these two regions.

Contents

Features

Eastern New England speech is historically non-rhotic, while Western New England is historically rhotic. Eastern New England possesses the so-called cot-caught merger; the Providence dialect does not possess the merger; and Western New England exhibits a continuum from full merger in northern Vermont to full distinction in western Connecticut. The Western New England accent is closely related to the Inland North accent which prevails further west.

Regional variances

The red areas are those where non-rhotic pronunciation is found among some whites in the United States. AAVE-influenced non-rhotic pronunciations may be found among African-Americans throughout the country. Map based on Labov, Ash, and Boberg (2006:48)

Within New England English exists a number of dialects.

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Eastern New England

Eastern New England was originally marked by non-rhoticity in car, card, fear, etc. Though this feature is receding, it is still strong in the area ranging from Bangor, Maine to Providence.

Unlike the New York dialect and the Philadelphia dialect, this area has no short-a split. There is a nasal short-a system instead.

Northeastern New England

Southeastern New England

Southeastern New England includes Rhode Island and areas nearby it in neighboring states such as eastern Connecticut.

As mentioned before, this dialect is traditionally non-rhotic.

A feature that the Southeastern New England accent shares with New York City and much of the Eastern Seaboard is resistance to the cot-caught merger. This also distinguishes the region from Northeastern New England.

Western New England

Western New England is r-pronouncing.

A study of WNE found raising of /æ/ in all environments and tensing (as well as raising) before nasals (Boberg 2001: 17-19). A small sample of telephone survey data (Labov, Ash and Boberg) showed this to be the case across WNE with the exception of the very northern city of Burlington, Vermont. Words like bad and stack are pronounced with [eə], and words like stand and can are pronounced [ɛə].

Labov (1991: 12) suggests that unified raising of TRAP/BATH/DANCE is a pivot point for the NCVS (the Northern Cities Vowel Shift). Boberg (2001: 11) further argues that the NCVS may thus have had its beginnings in northwestern NE. The existence of this raising pattern is surprising if one accepts the lack of BATH-raising in the LANE data (Kurath 1939-43), especially given that Labov, Ash and Boberg does not show this to be an incipient vigorous change: older speakers show more raising than younger speakers in Hartford, CT, Springfield, MA, and Rutland, VT (Boberg 2001: 19).

Recent data from Labov, Ash and Boberg has all western Connecticut speakers keeping cot and caught distinct, resembling the Inland North pattern. However, seven of the eight Vermont speakers have completely merged the two vowels.

As was mentioned earlier, the northern half of this region shows the cot-caught merger, along with consistent fronting of /ɑː/ before /r/.

Southwestern New England shows the basic tendency of the Northern Cities Shift to back /ɛ/ and front /ɑː/.

Speakers of the Western New England dialect tend to replace "t" with a glottal stop and replace "-ing" with "in'". Hence, "sitting" becomes "sih-in'", New Britain becomes "New Bri-in", and so on. T-glotallising is found in other parts of the country as well, in varying amounts.

Some local dialects in working class areas of southwestern Connecticut (especially Greater New Haven and Greater Bridgeport) are strongly influenced by the neighboring New York dialect.

See also

External links

References


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