Patterns of the PRICE vowel in Liverpool English: History, Phonetics, and Corpus Phonology
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Previous work on the Liverpool dialect has established that the PRICE vowel has an interesting phonological pattern; even so, there has never been a comprehensive study to confirm this claim. This dissertation provides an exploration of the PRICE vowel in Liverpool English through a corpus phonology approach. The present study finds that in the Liverpool dialect there are five PRICE vowel phonological patterns with a combination of four variants in three environments. These variants are: a raised nucleus diphthong, non-raised nucleus diphthong, lengthened nucleus diphthong, and monophthong; and the conditioning environments are: before voiceless obstruents, voiced obstruents, and nasal consonants. A striking observation is that the phonological patterns seem to have restrictions on variant combinations, which supports the hypothesis that Liverpool English has phonological patterns, rather than a number of variants available for each environment independent of the other variants. Specifically, there is no phonological pattern with a raised variant that does not have a monophthongal variant. Furthermore, an informant who produces a monophthong in the voiced environment necessarily has a monophthong before nasal consonants. The results of the present study may also suggest that there is phonological change in progress in the Liverpool PRICE vowel as two of the phonological patterns are produced exclusively by younger females. Many previous studies have suggested that younger women are the innovators in linguistic change. Finally, this dissertation takes a novel approach in explaining the origins of the PRICE vowel raising patterns. Three of the current theories on the origins of raising patterns in English are evaluated and combined in a way that encompasses the subfields of historical linguistics, phonology and dialectology in the final explanation.