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Thread: Canadian Raising in other Languages

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    Canadian Raising in other Languages

    Are there any other languages (or their dialects) with the /aɪ/ or /aʊ/ diphthong phonemes that exhibit raising of the nucleus in short-vowel environments?

    A while back I was researching Canadian Raising, and came across a paper by Elliot Moreton and Erik Thomas, in which the authors claim that the motivation behind Canadian Raising is purely phonetic and that it is not related to the Great Vowel Shift, as most sources seem to believe.

    Despite a regular full-time job, I've put quite a bit of my time into researching Canadian Raising, including measuring vowel lengths of a few speakers—though I've lost some of the measurements—in different phonetic environments where CR occurs. To avoid being lengthy, I will say that I have come to the conclusion that CR is undoubtedly a residual side-effect of the GVS acting on diphthongs with varying lengths in different morpho-phonetic contexts. I believe the evidence is overwhelming to this point, but will not present it unless the thread takes that direction.

    For now I will return to Moreton's and Thomas's claim that CR is the result of natural phonetic motivation. They admit no knowledge of languages other than English exhibiting CR, claiming that the phonological process responsible for it (what they call 'Asymmetric Assimilation') has so far only been found in English. However, they also claim that "there is some reason to expect it in other languages".1

    And thus the purpose of this thread: to find out whether there really are other languages that exhibit Canadian Raising of /aɪ/ or /aʊ/ (Moreton and Thomas focus only on the former) when the diphthong occurs in phonetic environments similar to those which trigger its appearance in English CR dialects.

    Are there any examples of this outside of English?

    JE
    __________
    Moreton and Thomas (2004 p.16)
    __________
    Moreton, E., and Thomas, E. (2004) "Origins of Canadian Raising in voiceless-coda effects: A case study in phonologization" (available online: http://www.unc.edu/~moreton/Papers/M...abPhon2004.pdf)

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    Re: Canadian Raising in other Languages

    For what it's worth, the opposite occurs in Swiss German (the effect being a bit more subtle, though). In standard German, the diphthongs /aɪ/ and /aʊ/ by processes similar to those of the GVS: /i:/>/ɪj/>/ɛj/>/aɪ/ and /u:/>/aʊ/ (I don't know the intermediary stages here); examples: vîle>Feile (=file; as in nail file not as in computer file), hûs>Haus (=house). The standard realizations are [ɐɪ] and [ɐʊ]. Only Swiss speaker regularly realize them [aɪ] and [aʊ]. For a Standard German speaker that sounds a bit like [a:ɪ] and [a:ʊ]; this is because [ɐ] is also the standard realization of the monophthong /a/ while [a:] is the standard realization of /a:/.
    Last edited by berndf; 10th December 2012 at 9:30 AM.

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    Re: Canadian Raising in other Languages

    Very interesting, berndf!

    Are there any dialectical variations with these vowels conditioned by their environment?

    JE

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    Re: Canadian Raising in other Languages

    Quote Originally Posted by JuanEscritor View Post
    Very interesting, berndf!

    Are there any dialectical variations with these vowels conditioned by their environment?

    JE
    I've been thinking but until now haven't found any conditions. The problem is that Germans generally don't recognize their /a/ and /a:/ vowels are qualitatively different and this whole issue is rarely discussed in the literature.
    Last edited by berndf; 10th December 2012 at 8:03 PM.

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    Re: Canadian Raising in other Languages

    Fair enough. Are there any length variations that you are aware of with the /aɪ/ and /aʊ/ diphthongs?

    JE

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    Re: Canadian Raising in other Languages

    This may be interesting. In a forum about my native dialect, Wenzhounese (dialect of Wu Chinese), I've found this comparison between the vowel shift in English, and the one that occurs from Middle Wu to today's Wenzhounese.

    Vowel shift in English:
    ex. ME > 1600 > 1700 > today
    time /iː/ > /əi/ > /ai/ > /aɪ/
    see /eː/ > /iː/ > /iː/ > /iː/
    sea /ɛː/ > /eː/ > /iː/ > /iː/
    make /aː/ > /ɛː/ > /eː/ > /eɪ/
    stone /ɔː/ > /oː/ > /oː/ > /əʊ/
    food /oː/ > /uː/ > /uː/ > /uː/
    house /uː/ > /əu/ > /au/ > /aʊ/

    *ME=Middle English

    Vowel shift in Wenzhounese:
    C MW > ?? > 1900 > today Modern Mandarin
    李 /iː/ > /iː/ > /ɪi/ > /ei/ /i/
    天 /eː/ > /ie/ > /iɪ/ > /i/ /i̯ɛn/
    猜 /ɛː/ > /eː/ > /ɪː/ > /ei/ /aɪ̯/
    相 /aː/ > /ɛː/ > /ie/ > /i/ /iɑŋ/
    可 /ɔː/ > /oː/ > /oː/ > /ʊ/ /ə/~/ɤ/
    火 /oː/ > /uː/ > /uː/ > /ɯ/ /u̯ɔ/
    走 /uː/ > /əu/ > /ɐu/ > /ɐɯ/ /ɤʊ̯/

    C=Chinese character
    MW=Middle Wu Chinese

    As comparison I've also added the corresponding vowel in Modern Mandarin, which are historically more conservative (even more than Middle Wu).
    The bold line seems the closest to Canadian Rising.
    /iː/ > /ɪi/ is also very similar to many dialects of English.
    The vowel [ɑʊ̯] of Mandarin usually becomes [ou] in Cantonese, and a monophtong in most Southern Chinese dialects.
    Last edited by Youngfun; 11th December 2012 at 7:10 AM.
    "Ĉokolado". Do you know how to say "chócoleit" in "Espanis"?

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    Re: Canadian Raising in other Languages

    Quote Originally Posted by Youngfun View Post
    Vowel shift in Wenzhounese:
    C MW > ?? > 1900 > today Modern Mandarin
    李 /iː/ > /iː/ > /ɪi/ > /ei/ /i/
    天 /eː/ > /ie/ > /iɪ/ > /i/ /i̯ɛn/
    猜 /ɛː/ > /eː/ > /ɪː/ > /ei/ /aɪ̯/
    相 /aː/ > /ɛː/ > /ie/ > /i/ /iɑŋ/
    可 /ɔː/ > /oː/ > /oː/ > /ʊ/ /ə/~/ɤ/
    火 /oː/ > /uː/ > /uː/ > /ɯ/ /u̯ɔ/
    走 /uː/ > /əu/ > /ɐu/ > /ɐɯ/ /ɤʊ̯/

    C=Chinese character
    MW=Middle Wu Chinese
    So these changes only affected long vowels, creating qualitative distinctions where before there had been quantitative ones? Is vowel length still phonemic in Modern Mandarin or has it been lost as a result of these shifts as it was in English?

    The vowel [ɑʊ̯] of Mandarin usually becomes [ou] in Cantonese, and a monophtong in most Southern Chinese dialects.
    Now that is interesting! Are there any conditions on this, or does it happen in all environments?

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    Re: Canadian Raising in other Languages

    Are there any other languages (or their dialects) with the /aɪ/ or /aʊ/ diphthong phonemes that exhibit raising of the nucleus in short-vowel environments?
    I'm struggling to grasp exactly what you mean by short-vowel environments? If you've got a diphthong then surely that environment is not a short-vowel environment?
    Or are you not talking about anything more than clipping-environments? Sorry, just want to make sure I follow what you're asking.

    [Edit] - Aha, I took that line of "____" to be your signature and ignored what was underneath it but I looked again and realised it was a short list of references and one had a link. Question answered, it is voiceless (clipping) environments. I think calling it "short-vowel" environments is potentially quite confusing (but as with all things, when you know what actually is intended it becomes a lot more understandable).
    Last edited by Alxmrphi; 11th December 2012 at 8:03 PM.

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    Re: Canadian Raising in other Languages

    Quote Originally Posted by Alxmrphi View Post
    I'm struggling to grasp exactly what you mean by short-vowel environments? If you've got a diphthong then surely that environment is not a short-vowel environment?
    Or are you not talking about anything more than clipping-environments? Sorry, just want to make sure I follow what you're asking.

    [Edit] - Aha, I took that line of "____" to be your signature and ignored what was underneath it but I looked again and realised it was a short list of references and one had a link. Question answered, it is voiceless (clipping) environments. I think calling it "short-vowel" environments is potentially quite confusing (but as with all things, when you know what actually is intended it becomes a lot more understandable).
    The raised diphthong is most certainly shorter than the unraised one in CR dialects; furthermore, the environments in which the shorter raised form appear also trigger shorter versions of other vowels. So the word cider has [ʌi] while sider retains [aɪ]; at the same time the vowel in cedar is shorter than the vowel in seeder, though here there is no qualitative change in the vowel. In CR, we see a quantitative change triggering a qualitative change in the /aɪ/ vowel.

    We can describe the variations in terms of morpho-phonemic environments:

    V → v/ 's-.dɚ
    V → V/ 's-.d#ɚ

    Any vowel inserted will behave according to these rules; any vowel that is subject to qualitative variation depending on its length (such as /aɪ/) will exhibit the appropriate changes in the relative contexts. For CR, the restrictive rule will keep [ʌi] in the short-vowel environment and [aɪ] in the longer vowel environments.

    Thus CR is triggered by vowel length and vowel length is triggered by the morpho-phonemic environment.

    I'm trying to find whether there are other languages that exhibit this same pattern with the two diphthongs in question (or either one of them) to evaluate the claim made by Moreton and Thomas that these are purely phonetically-motivated changes unrelated to the English GVS that would have also left the same distributional pattern.

    JE

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    Re: Canadian Raising in other Languages

    Quote Originally Posted by JuanEscritor View Post
    Fair enough. Are there any length variations that you are aware of with the /aɪ/ and /aʊ/ diphthongs?
    Unfortunately not. This is an observation from listening not from measuring. And as I am a Standard German native speaker I perceive [a] always as longer than [ɐ] (you would probably transcribe it [ʌ] because [ɐ] belongs phonologically to /ʌ/ in English) irrespective of real length.

    Quote Originally Posted by JuanEscritor View Post
    Thus CR is triggered by vowel length and vowel length is triggered by the morpho-phonemic environment.

    I'm trying to find whether there are other languages that exhibit this same pattern with the two diphthongs in question (or either one of them) to evaluate the claim made by Moreton and Thomas that these are purely phonetically-motivated changes unrelated to the English GVS that would have also left the same distributional pattern.

    JE
    It must be then because /aɪ/ and /aʊ/ are phonemically certainly long. Maybe you should look at Scots or Scottish English because it is at an earlier stage of the GVS and house is depending on dialect either /hu:s/ or /həʊs/.
    Last edited by berndf; 11th December 2012 at 11:07 PM.

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    Re: Canadian Raising in other Languages

    Regarding this being related to morphemes (just like ŋg -> ŋ / V_# in Early Modern English), are there examples in the research you've done that have maintained the change and aren't just potential formations that fit the environment? With something like 'sid#er' I can see that you might get a distinction based on a novel analysis which could be overridden in other more common words that have been passed down orally (like 'cider'). If that's the case then I'd give a lot more credence to your analysis and find it pretty promising. If not, then it still seems a good hypothesis, but something that would for me, always need more data to make firm conclusions regarding potential motivations given other explanations of how those differences might have come about (as I mentioned before).

    Given that you said "any vowel inserted will behave according to these rules" I imagine there must be a fairly lengthy list of examples which allows such a wide-ranging claim to be made and some of these must be able to starkly show a common history and frequency that shows a morpheme environment to be the deciding factor. The idea does make a lot of sense, because that is quite similar to what happened with NG-coalescence in English. I'm just curious about examples that don't need to resort to non-words to provide evidence for that claim.
    Last edited by Alxmrphi; 11th December 2012 at 11:35 PM.

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    Re: Canadian Raising in other Languages

    Quote Originally Posted by berndf View Post
    Unfortunately not. This is an observation from listening not from measuring. And as I am a Standard German native speaker I perceive [a] always as longer than [ɐ] (you would probably transcribe it [ʌ] because [ɐ] belongs phonologically to /ʌ/ in English) irrespective of real length.

    It must be then because /aɪ/ and /aʊ/ are phonemically certainly long.
    There is no such thing as phonemic vowel length in English. Vowel length is always predictable. While it is true that diphthongs are longer than monophthongs, this does not mean that all diphthongs are long. To say that a diphthong is short does not mean it has the duration of a short [ɪ], it just means it is shorter than other comparable diphthongs. The vowels in bead and bid are considered 'long' even though they are not the same length. They are considered this because each one is longer than itself in other contexts (for example, the words beat and bit).

    Likewise, the vowel in cider is shorter than the vowel in sider; and the vowel in cedar is shorter than the vowel in seeder, as the morpho-phonemic conditions of each pair are identical to those of the other pair. From my own speech:

    Word
    Length (sec)
    cider 0.156095
    sider 0.206047
    cedar 0.101830
    seeder 0.144864

    The raised diphthong is most definitely shorter than the unraised one by a degree comparable to the difference between other vowels in the same morpho-phonemic environments.

    Maybe you should look at Scots or Scottish English because it is at an earlier stage of the GVS and house is depending on dialect either /hu:s/ or /həʊs/.
    Yes, CR is directly related to the vowel alterations that occur with the Scottish Vowel Length Rule as both show the raised forms in short-vowel environments and the unraised form in other environments. I think they are both historically linked as being vestiges of the GVS.

    JE

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    Re: Canadian Raising in other Languages

    Quote Originally Posted by JuanEscritor View Post
    There is no such thing as phonemic vowel length in English.
    If you restrict your analysis to modern North American dialects, this can reasonably be claimed. But I don't think this can be said of all dialects. In the phonology of RP most authors maintain the notion of phonemic vowel length.
    Quote Originally Posted by JuanEscritor View Post
    Vowel length is always predictable.
    That is no contradiction. In languages with phonemic vowel length, long and short varieties of a vowel are normally accompanied by qualitative differences, i.e. long "i" = [i:], short "i" = [I].

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    Re: Canadian Raising in other Languages

    But I don't think this can be said of all dialects.
    Not of Australian English, I've read.

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    Re: Canadian Raising in other Languages

    Quote Originally Posted by berndf View Post
    If you restrict your analysis to modern North American dialects, this can reasonably be claimed. But I don't think this can be said of all dialects. In the phonology of RP most authors maintain the notion of phonemic vowel length.
    Contrastive minimal pairs would be interesting to see. I have taken a look at Australian English, and Wikipedia gives some contrastive pairs of syllable rimes, but I don't see any discussion on minimal pairs or how AuE handles vowel length in loanwords. As for RP, I see nothing on the Wikipedia entry to convince me that there is a phonemic distinction between vowels based on their lengths, though the AuE article does mention other English dialects that have the feature.

    That is no contradiction. In languages with phonemic vowel length, long and short varieties of a vowel are normally accompanied by qualitative differences, i.e. long "i" = [i:], short "i" = [I].
    But this is by no means a requirement. One might call the type of phonemic vowel length to which you are referring as somewhat 'defective'—i.e., the distinction between the vowels is not based entirely on vowel length. But I am talking about purely phonemic vowel length. I am not aware of any dialects of English that exhibits CR (including Scottish ones) which make phonemic vowel length distinctions.

    The vowel length distinction in CR is purely allophonic, and accompanied by a qualitative change not seen in other vowels. (That is, the qualitative change only affects the CR diphthong(s), and not other vowels even when in the same morpho-phonemic environments.)

    JE

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    Re: Canadian Raising in other Languages

    Quote Originally Posted by JuanEscritor View Post
    So these changes only affected long vowels, creating qualitative distinctions where before there had been quantitative ones? Is vowel length still phonemic in Modern Mandarin or has it been lost as a result of these shifts as it was in English?
    To give a satisfactory answer, I should be more proficient in Middle Chinese at least.
    But in Modern Mandarin (I would say most other Chinese languages too) the phonemic length distinction doesn't exist anymore.
    Actually I don't know if in Middle Chinese the distinction short/long vowel existed or not...

    Now that is interesting! Are there any conditions on this, or does it happen in all environments?[/QUOTE]
    I would say, just different phonetic evolutions, without an apparent rule.
    For example the Mandarin "jiao" [tɕiaʊ̯] has [au] vowel in Cantonese (probably pronounced [kau]), but Mandarin "hao" [xɑʊ̯] is pronouced [hou] in Cantonese.
    In my dialect (Wu) the word corresponding to Mandarin [tɕiaʊ̯] is [ko], while Mandarin [xɑʊ̯] is [hø].
    So, still not the same thing as Canadian Rising.

    My understanding is that Mandarin is more conservative in vowels (big change k>tɕ), while Cantonese is more conservative in consonants.

    Just to be clear, my post may have confused you, because I have used "becomes" and "dialects".
    But here I'm not talking about "dialect" in the English meaning (American English, British English, etc.), but rather the German meaning (Hochdeutsch, High Saxon, Low Saxon, Allemanisch, etc.).
    Mandarin, Cantonese, Wu, Min and so on are all evolutions of Old Chinese and Middle Chinese...

    While if you talk about Mandarin pronounced with heavy accent, that's another story.
    In my region, older people including my grandpa would pronounce [o] instead of [ɑʊ̯], so they would pronounce "ni hao" /ni xɑʊ̯/ (hello) as [ni ho]; and pronounce [e]~[ei] instead of [aɪ̯], so they would pronounce "guo lai" /ku̯ɔ laɪ̯/ (come) as [ku le] or [ku lei].
    Last edited by Youngfun; 12th December 2012 at 2:06 PM.
    "Ĉokolado". Do you know how to say "chócoleit" in "Espanis"?

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    Re: Canadian Raising in other Languages

    Quote Originally Posted by JuanEscritor View Post
    But this is by no means a requirement. One might call the type of phonemic vowel length to which you are referring as somewhat 'defective'—i.e., the distinction between the vowels is not based entirely on vowel length.
    I don't know of any language with phonemic vowel length where this "defect" does not occur. I am thinking of
    Classical Greek - η vs. ε; ω (o-mega) vs. o (o-micron).
    Latin - Archetype of a systematic long-short vowel system: /a:/ is low central, /i:/ is high front, /u:/ high back, /e:/ mid-high front, /o:/ mid-high back (large triangle); short vowels are shifted towards centre and lowered compared to their long counterparts except /a/ (small triangle). (Chart)
    Tiberian Hebrew - The only precisely overlaying long and short vowels are Kamatz katan/gadol and even there it might be just because we don't know the difference
    Arabic - difficult to say because of the simple vowel system and therefore large number of allophonic differences but still, short and long variants have different "favourite" allophones.
    German - Essentially the same as the Latin system with additional complication of the umlauts. Slight qualitative difference between /a:/ and /a/ which is largely ignored by native speakers but plays a role in the perception of length.
    Swedish - Very similar to German; the qualitative difference between long and short a is stronger ([ɑ:] vs. [a]).
    Quote Originally Posted by JuanEscritor View Post
    The vowel length distinction in CR is purely allophonic, and accompanied by a qualitative change not seen in other vowels.
    That's why I think it is phonetic and not etymological.
    Last edited by berndf; 12th December 2012 at 9:04 AM.

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    Re: Canadian Raising in other Languages

    Quote Originally Posted by berndf View Post
    That's why I think it is phonetic and not etymological.
    Well, that is the purpose of this thread. If the phenomenon is phonetic, then we should find it in other languages; but the distributional pattern is exactly what we would expect if the phenomenon exists as a side-effect of GVS (and aside from Moreton and Thomas, this is a typical analysis in the literature), and so this is the best explanation if a phonetic explanation cannot be supported.

    So far I have seen no support for a phonetic explanation. Even within a single analysis the phonetic explanation usually fails to account for variations seen; for example, most AE speakers with raised /aɪ/ do not have raised /aʊ/, an issue never investigated by Moreton and Thomas.

    JE

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    Re: Canadian Raising in other Languages

    Some phoneticians, for example Luciano Canepari, denies that phonemic vowel length distinction exists in English. He considers the "long i" /Ii/ and the "long u" /ʊu/, i.e. diphthongs.
    "Ĉokolado". Do you know how to say "chócoleit" in "Espanis"?

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    Re: Canadian Raising in other Languages

    Quote Originally Posted by Youngfun View Post
    Some phoneticians, for example Luciano Canepari, denies that phonemic vowel length distinction exists in English. He considers the "long i" /Ii/ and the "long u" /ʊu/, i.e. diphthongs.
    Yes; but even besides that, for almost all varieties of English that exist today, vowel length is not phonemic. What folks are calling long vowels versus short vowels are actually qualitative distinctions more than quantitative. In the proper phonetic context, long /ɛ/ can be equal to or longer than short /e/. And I don't even see evidence of actual phonemicity of vowel length in AuE, since no minimal pairs have been presented.

    Now it is true that because of the way English handles voicing on final consonants that vowel length still carries a reasonable functional load, but that does not make it phonemic; vowel length is non-phonemic in PDE, with rare exception (that I am taking on faith, having yet to see evidence of phonemicity). And as you mention, most of the tense vowels in English (and in many AE dialects, this is also becoming true of lax vowels as well) are diphthongs, which only serves to further create distinction based on quality instead of quantity, a process English has been undergoing since we first have records for it.

    JE
    Last edited by JuanEscritor; 12th December 2012 at 3:41 PM.

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