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#115532 - 11/09/03 10:58 AM the great vowel shift  
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dodyskin Offline
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I got a book for my birthday called, 'The Adventure of English'. It was a bit simplistic and repetitive (when I finished it I discovered it is the book of a radio series so that explains it), and blindly repeated as fact a few of those dreadful 'mythetymology' acronym explanations. However, it did have some interesting parts and I'm prone to the odd home scholar mistake meself so we'll let it off. One thing this book did talk about was, 'The Great Vowel Shift' and how this stole the song from Chaucer and other early works. I've been doing a bit of looking about, and no-one seems to know how or why this happened. Does anyone here have any pet theories? I would be interested to know. Also, I've been listening to some examples of Middle English speech, and some of the lost vowels seem to me to be very much alive: on Tyneside, in the West Country, on Merseyside and in Lancashire. What d'yall think?


**edit**just listened to another example of late middle english, and it sounded remarkably like an english person doing a bad impression of a french person speaking english like in that awful sitcom 'allo allo'

#115533 - 11/09/03 12:43 PM Re: the great vowel shift  
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Faldage Offline
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This may not be quite what you're looking for, but the lovely AnnaS and birdfeed came up with this theory of the Great Vowel Movement in times past and birdfeed has a good explanation of it here:

http://wordsmith.org/board/showthreaded.pl?Cat=&Board=wordplay&Number=100461


#115534 - 11/09/03 03:32 PM Re: the great vowel shift  
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Can you tell me what you are talking about? I never heard of vowel shift.


#115535 - 11/09/03 04:19 PM Re: the great vowel shift  
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dodyskin Offline
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there is an explanation here http://www.furman.edu/~mmenzer/gvs/what.htm
but be wary of downloading that java applet, it has bad voodoo


#115536 - 11/09/03 09:22 PM Re: the great vowel shift  
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Faldage Offline
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You're right about some of the old vowels being alive and well in certain dialects of English. Irish English seems to have gotten only about halfway there. Much of Scots English hardly seems to have been affected at all, with house, mouse, louse being pronounced hoose, moose, loose. As to a reason for it, I don't believe I've ever heard any linguist even come close to explaining why it happened. It just happened.


#115537 - 11/10/03 12:52 PM Re: the great vowel shift  
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Capfka Offline
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Actually, the explanation is startlingly simple.

A horse-drawn Pickfords van was picking up a house lot in Bremen one fine morning a couple of centuries ago, when the German vowels climbed on board while the packers' backs were turned. Since this was before the days of Afghan refugees, there was no checking at the Channel ports, and the vowels duly found themselves in England, rather smelling of horse dung, a few days later.

Being good, upright, pragmatic German vowels, they checked out the local situation and changed their ways so that no one would notice that they had snuck in without formal entry papers. They had no intention of applying for political asylum since, in their view, they had just escaped from one (Germany was a rather fraught set of separate states in those days).

They decided their best course was to make themselves sound like the locals, so they did.

And that's all there was too it. Doesn't EVERYONE know about this?


#115538 - 11/10/03 01:37 PM Re: the great vowel shift  
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birdfeed Offline
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"A horse-drawn Pickfords van was picking up a house lot in Bremen one fine morning a couple of centuries ago, when the German vowels climbed on board while the packers' backs were turned. Since this was before the days of Afghan refugees, there was no checking at the Channel ports, and the vowels duly found themselves in England, rather smelling of horse dung, a few days later."

You know, this kind of wanton immigration violation continues to be a problem. This why the QANTAS flight attendants come and spray the inside of the plane when it lands in Oz; they're trying to get rid of all the glottal stops that might be clinging to people's clothes. Think how disoriented my Aussie ex-husband would be to find himself saying "Maria and I" (in reference to our daughter) instead of "Marearand I". It's largely because of passengers from some parts of England that have to use glottal stops with great abandon because the price of the letter "T" has gone sky high. Tragic, really.



#115539 - 11/10/03 11:06 PM Re: the great vowel shift  
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JohnHawaii Offline
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"the great vowel shift"

I thought I'd stumbled into a discussion of laxative commercials


#115540 - 11/11/03 12:24 AM Re: the great vowel shift  
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maverick Offline
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> a discussion of laxative commercials

No, John, it's surely a commerce of lexetive discussions...?


#115541 - 11/11/03 12:33 AM Re: the great vowel shift  
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> lexetive discussions...?

Held near Seth Effrican toilets?




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