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ATULA AHUJA
CHENRUIXUE LUO
CHADAPORN TEPPIYAWONG
YAN GONG
Possible Explanations for
the Great Vowel Shift
INTRODUCTION
The Great Vowel Shift
 refers to the major change
in the pronunciation of
vowels
 took place in England
bet...
INTRODUCTION
In all, seven long vowels, three short vowels
and five diphthongs underwent changes.
The long vowels that cou...
Vowels play musical chairs
house [hu:s ]→ [haʊs]
name [na:m ]→ [ej]
beat [be:t] → [bi:t]
about [əbu:t] → [əbtαʊt]
fool [fɔ...
THE SHORT VOWELS SHIFT
LATE MIDDLE ENGLISH → EARLY MODERN ENGLISH → LATER ENGLISH
Mid low vowel was moved forward to front...
DIPHTHONGS
LATE MIDDLE ENGLISH → EARLY MODERN ENGLISH → LATER ENGLISH
Diphthongs became monophthongs
[aʊ] lawe -----------...
POSSIBLE CAUSES
1. The reform began as a struggle for
a divorce and ended in freedom from the
Papacy.
2. Make an independe...
The Norman Conquest in 1066
 One of the most
obvious changes was
the introduction of
Anglo-Norman,
a northern dialect
of ...
 French words
entered the
English
language
The mixture of
spelling by Latin
and English words
e.g. come, some,
done and...
POSSIBLE CAUSES
The Black DeathIllustration of the Black Death from
the Toggenburg Bible (1411)
A devastating pandemic in ...
POSSIBLE CAUSES
André Martinet
(1908-1999)
drag chains
In a drag chain one sound moves
from its original place, and leaves...
POSSIBLE CAUSES
DICK LEITH
(1948-2011)
Social Explanation
Leith suggests that
• Upper and middle class speakers
of London ...
POSSIBLE CAUSES
• Middle English did not have
contrastive vowel length. Rather,
vowel length was conditioned by
syllable a...
THE MOST CONVINCING CAUSE
Middle Class in London required the
creation of a common dialect. Because there was
continual gr...
Implications
 The GVS has had long-term
implications
I. for spelling
II. the teaching of reading
III. the understanding o...
Points to remember
 The GVS was limited only to the English language.
 The shift affected words of both native ancestry ...
TO CONCLUDE
GVS is the most mysterious linguistic phenomenon.
1. It’s time span is 300 years, but most of the long vowels ...
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Great vowel shift

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A major change in the pronunciation of vowels took place in England between 1400- 1700. It was limited to only the English language. This presentation explains eight steps that led to the complete vowel shift.

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Great vowel shift

  1. 1. ATULA AHUJA CHENRUIXUE LUO CHADAPORN TEPPIYAWONG YAN GONG Possible Explanations for the Great Vowel Shift
  2. 2. INTRODUCTION The Great Vowel Shift  refers to the major change in the pronunciation of vowels  took place in England between 1400- 1700. Otto Harry Jespersen;  a Danish linguist was the first to study this phenomenon in detail.  He coined the term the Great Vowel Shift
  3. 3. INTRODUCTION In all, seven long vowels, three short vowels and five diphthongs underwent changes. The long vowels that could be raised were raised. Ones that couldn’t be raised ( u:, i: ) became diphthongs. α: was was fronted to [æ:] → raised 2 steps up → [ɛ:] → [ej] (name)
  4. 4. Vowels play musical chairs house [hu:s ]→ [haʊs] name [na:m ]→ [ej] beat [be:t] → [bi:t] about [əbu:t] → [əbtαʊt] fool [fɔl]→ [fo:l] → [fu:l] The Eight steps by Otto Harry Jespersen. Step 1: i and u drop → əɪ & əu Step 2: e and o move up→ i & u Step 3: a moves forward→ æ Step 4: ɛ becomes e, ɔ become o Step 5: æ moves up → ɛ Step 6: e moves up→ i Step 7: ɛ moves up→ e Step 8: əɪ and əu drop further to aɪ and au serene [sere:n]→ [sɪriːn]
  5. 5. THE SHORT VOWELS SHIFT LATE MIDDLE ENGLISH → EARLY MODERN ENGLISH → LATER ENGLISH Mid low vowel was moved forward to front low vowel [a] that ---------------→ [æ] Back mid vowel fell one step down at back [ɔ] on , odd -----------------------------------—→[ɔ] or [ɑ] Back front vowel fell one step down at central [ʊ] but ---------------→ [ə]
  6. 6. DIPHTHONGS LATE MIDDLE ENGLISH → EARLY MODERN ENGLISH → LATER ENGLISH Diphthongs became monophthongs [aʊ] lawe -------------→ [ɔ] [əʊ] snow ------------→ [o] [æI ] nail ----→ [a:] ----→[æ:]------→[ɛ:]----→[e] [yu] has tended to reduced to [u] in written ew, eu, iu,iw and u [ɛʊ], [Iʊ] few, knew ---------[yu] The appearance of new diphthongs [ʊI] join ------------→ [əI]-----→ [aI] ---------→[ɔI]
  7. 7. POSSIBLE CAUSES 1. The reform began as a struggle for a divorce and ended in freedom from the Papacy. 2. Make an independentChurchof England 3. Translate Bible into English  Great diversity of scribal of forms from Latin letter  English Written forms Henry VIII and The English Reformation
  8. 8. The Norman Conquest in 1066  One of the most obvious changes was the introduction of Anglo-Norman, a northern dialect of Old-French(Latin roots)  DisplacingOld- English
  9. 9.  French words entered the English language The mixture of spelling by Latin and English words e.g. come, some, done and love are pronounce [^], not the [o:] 'o' written.  French became the language of the upper class  English of the lower class
  10. 10. POSSIBLE CAUSES The Black DeathIllustration of the Black Death from the Toggenburg Bible (1411) A devastating pandemic in 14th century. Wiped out 30% - 60% of Europe’s population. Reduced world population of 450 M to 350 M Mass immigration to South England. Sudden geographical movement caused many languages and dialects to come together. Difference in accents ; people to modify speech. Vowels began to shift to accommodate changes leading to GVS.
  11. 11. POSSIBLE CAUSES André Martinet (1908-1999) drag chains In a drag chain one sound moves from its original place, and leaves a gap which an existing sound rushes to fill, whose place is in turn filled by another, and so on. push chains In a push chain, the reverse happens. One sound invades the territory of another, and the original owner moves away before the two sounds merge into one.
  12. 12. POSSIBLE CAUSES DICK LEITH (1948-2011) Social Explanation Leith suggests that • Upper and middle class speakers of London may have consciously distanced themselves from lower class speakers by adopting changes in pronunciation which nevertheless gradually spread to the rest of the population.
  13. 13. POSSIBLE CAUSES • Middle English did not have contrastive vowel length. Rather, vowel length was conditioned by syllable and word structure. • However, there were eight long vowels and only five short vowels, with typically a two-to-two correspondence between them. Example: long [æ] alternated with short [e,α] short [e] alternated with long[ε, æ]. Herbert Pilch (1927-present)
  14. 14. THE MOST CONVINCING CAUSE Middle Class in London required the creation of a common dialect. Because there was continual growth in the importance of trading and commerce from the end of the fourteenth through the sixteenth centuries, people needed to be able to communicate more clearly in English. Thus a new kind of English pronunciation evolved that would split the differences between various dialects in England, with the London dialect (spoken by Chaucer, among many others) eventually winning out, but adopting many of the pronunciations of the other dialects.
  15. 15. Implications  The GVS has had long-term implications I. for spelling II. the teaching of reading III. the understanding of any English-language text written before or during the Shift.  The impact of Printing Press: the spellingin Englishpronunciation had changing while the spelling of most English vowels is frozen at a form.
  16. 16. Points to remember  The GVS was limited only to the English language.  The shift affected words of both native ancestry and borrowings from French and Latin.  As a result, the Middle English has quite radically differing pronunciations in Modern English.  The GVS has had long-term implications for, among other things, spelling, the teaching of reading, and the understanding of any English- language text written before or during the Shift.
  17. 17. TO CONCLUDE GVS is the most mysterious linguistic phenomenon. 1. It’s time span is 300 years, but most of the long vowels changed between 100- 1450, just after Chaucer’s death. 2. It was limited to only English. Contemporary neighbouring languages not affected. 3. Seven long vowels → high vowels 4. Mid 2 short vowels → up 1 position 5. ME diphthongs were monothongised- /snɔu/ → /snow/ ; /laʊw/→ /lɔ/ / næil/ → /nel/ There are many educated guesses, but the real cause of GVS is yet to be known.

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