Article published in:Historical Linguistics 2013: Selected papers from the 21st International Conference on Historical Linguistics, Oslo, 5-9 August 2013
Edited by Dag T.T. Haug
[Current Issues in Linguistic Theory 334] 2015
► pp. 41–52
The development of early Middle English ō
This paper seeks to determine the developments of Old English/early Middle English ō in Middle English dialects, by making use of irregular spellings extracted from three corpora of Middle English dialect material, as well as from other sources of localised Middle English texts. I argue (a) that Northern Fronting of ō started before 1300 in the northernmost counties of England and spread southwards during the next 100–150 years, (b) that the Great Vowel Shift raising of ō started in the mid-to-late thirteenth century in the West Midlands and East Midlands and a little later in the South, and (c) that there is thus temporal overlap between Northern Fronting and the Great Vowel Shift. These long-vowel changes should therefore not be treated separately: if there was any ‘Great Vowel Shift’, it must include Northern Fronting, as well as other presumed earlier changes.
Keywords: Middle English dialectology, Middle English spelling evidence, Middle English vowel-change, the Great Vowel Shift
Published online: 01 October 2015
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