SlideShare verwendet Cookies, um die Funktionalität und Leistungsfähigkeit der Webseite zu verbessern und Ihnen relevante Werbung bereitzustellen. Wenn Sie diese Webseite weiter besuchen, erklären Sie sich mit der Verwendung von Cookies auf dieser Seite einverstanden. Lesen Sie bitte unsere Nutzervereinbarung und die Datenschutzrichtlinie.
SlideShare verwendet Cookies, um die Funktionalität und Leistungsfähigkeit der Webseite zu verbessern und Ihnen relevante Werbung bereitzustellen. Wenn Sie diese Webseite weiter besuchen, erklären Sie sich mit der Verwendung von Cookies auf dieser Seite einverstanden. Lesen Sie bitte unsere unsere Datenschutzrichtlinie und die Nutzervereinbarung.
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.
In 1066, William the Conqueror, the Duke of Normandy, invaded and conquered England and the Anglo-Saxons. One of the most obvious changes was the introduction of Anglo-Norman, a northern dialect of Old French, a French dialect that had considerable Germanic influences in addition to the basic Latin roots. French was used as the language of the ruling classes in England, displacing Old English.
* By the time, French was used by new nobility, while, English was considered low class and vulgar.
During the Norman occupation, about 10,000 French words were adopted into English, some three-fourths of which are still in use today. This French vocabulary is found in every domain, from government and law to art and literature e.g. William, Robert, Richard, cuisine, à la carte, bon voyage, jury.
* The mixture of English and Latin also caused inconsistencies in spelling. * For example, late Latin developed the practice of using "o" in place of "u". * So now we have words like come, some, monk, son, tongue, wonder, honey, above, done and love, * none of which are pronounced like [^] and not the [o:] 'o' written.
Middle English stressed vowels match alternations in French loanwords. But the long vowels are regularly and strikingly different. This is due to what is called The Great Vowel Shift.
Now /neɪl/ /snəʊ/
Great vowel shift
Possible Explanations for
the Great Vowel Shift
The Great Vowel Shift
refers to the major change
in the pronunciation of
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
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: )
α: was was fronted to [æ:] →
raised 2 steps up → [ɛ:] → [ej]
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]
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]
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]
1. The reform began as a struggle for
a divorce and ended in freedom from the
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
The Norman Conquest in 1066
One of the most
obvious changes was
the introduction of
a northern dialect
The mixture of
spelling by Latin
and English words
e.g. come, some,
done and love
[^], not the [o:]
the language of
the upper class
English of the
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.
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.
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.
Leith suggests that
• Upper and middle class speakers
of London may have consciously
from lower class speakers
by adopting changes in
pronunciation which nevertheless
gradually spread to the rest of the
• 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.
long [æ] alternated with short [e,α]
short [e] alternated with long[ε, æ].
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
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
The GVS has had long-term
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.
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.
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.