California Vowel Shift in pop culture, betch

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Kirk
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California Vowel Shift in pop culture, betch

Postby Kirk » 2008-09-13, 4:02

I noticed a reference to one of my pet topics, the emerging California Vowel Shift, in another thread and was wondering if anyone had noticed what I believe to be the first widespread pop-culture recognition of the changing vowels in the now-classic Youtube viral video, Shoes.

First, I'll preface this by saying that most people, even younger speakers, don't have vowels this progressive in the CVS. Obviously, it's exaggerated for comical purposes, but it's entirely based upon a real phenomenon. For many younger speakers, the vowels are indeed approaching these realizations. The changes, as so often happens, are being led by young females but males are picking up on it, too (this is what happened with the Northern Cities Vowel Shift).

Quotes from the video:

"What the hal?" /ɛ/ -> /æ/

"Shut up, deck, I'm gonna betchslap, you, shetbaag." /ɪ/ -> /ɛ/ and /æ/ -> /a/

"Let's gat em!" /ɛ/ -> /æ/

"Um, I don't think you're gonna fet, I mean, your feet're...kinda beg." /ɪ/ -> /ɛ/


Having lived in both urban Southern and Northern California, I've heard this vowel shift in the under-35 crowd's speech commonly (though I have met a few people in their 40s with such vowels...early adopters? Or just in tune with how the whippersnappers speak?) in all areas of the state, which isn't terribly surprising given the degree of mobility between the two major urban cores of the state (the San Francisco-San Jose Bay Area and the Los Angeles-Orange County-Inland Empire-San Diego conurbation). It's still not entirely clear how or why it originated, but linguist Penelope Eckert from Stanford (in NorCal) has been doing research on it amongst NorCal residents for several years now (in fact, on her page she calls it the "Northern California Shift" though I definitely heard it living in SoCal, too).

But before the "Shoes" video, I wasn't familiar with it being used in pop culture so that's been interesting. It's still a pretty new (though radical) shift but as it spreads knowledge of its characteristics as a regional accent is likely to spread (just as with what happened in the NCVS---50 years ago before it'd majorly spread in the Northern Cities other Americans didn't generally conceive of the Northern Cities as having particularly remarkable accents, though now such dialects are not uncommonly imitated, exaggerated or accurately, in pop culture).
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Re: California Vowel Shift in pop culture, betch

Postby Travis B. » 2008-09-13, 9:21

Kirk wrote:But before the "Shoes" video, I wasn't familiar with it being used in pop culture so that's been interesting. It's still a pretty new (though radical) shift but as it spreads knowledge of its characteristics as a regional accent is likely to spread (just as with what happened in the NCVS---50 years ago before it'd majorly spread in the Northern Cities other Americans didn't generally conceive of the Northern Cities as having particularly remarkable accents, though now such dialects are not uncommonly imitated, exaggerated or accurately, in pop culture).

Heh - I always associated strong CVS with the stereotypical "Valley Girl", well, variety (which is in many ways basically the stereotype of all the most extreme features found in Californian English), even though such still seems to be less strongly associated with such in the popular mind here than the unrounding and fronting of mid and high back vowels (which is quite extreme in the popular perception of said "Valley Girl", uhhh, variety).

As for the NCVS, though, I would not say that all the dialects in the Inland North were necessarily all too unremarkable before it appeared. At least the dialect (as opposed to the localized version of GA) here in Milwaukee has more than enough quite distinctive features that have nothing to do with the NCVS, even though the NCVS has further increased the distance between such and GA proper.
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Re: California Vowel Shift in pop culture, betch

Postby Gormur » 2010-10-03, 0:37

wow, that is progressive...

the funny thing is, a lot of older people i know (i'll say 35+) have virtually no features of the CVS in their speech while virtually all the younger people i know (under 35) have at least one or more feature/s of it

CVS-influence definitely depends on the socialect in question. For example, Chicano English isn't very heavily influenced by the CVS compared to, say, surfer/skater speech & valspeak.. actually, none of the chicanos i know personally have any noticeable features of the CVS (including mostly young adults)
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Re: California Vowel Shift in pop culture, betch

Postby tenasia » 2010-10-05, 21:24

I remember when I started picking up on the distinct accent several years ago on TV (the kinds of shows that are on E!, etc.). I've never been in California for an extended period of time, but I can dæfenetly pick it out. I was raised in Missouri and have been in Chicago for the past year, and I hear more and more young people (girls and guys who speak in a feminine register) using a California accent. It seems like they're just imitating the speech of the personalities they consume in the media because I know no one is raised speaking that way in the midwest, especially in Missouri.

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Re: California Vowel Shift in pop culture, betch

Postby TeneReef » 2010-10-13, 21:46

There are many Californian accents. I like the traditional one, in which pol-Paul-Don-dawn-cot-caught-Hong Kong-long song are all merged to a low unrounded (central-to-back) vowel. :D It's the accent taught actors in Hollywood (well, unless they're going for a Valley girl stereotyped character like in the movie ''Clueless''). :P

Perfect examples of traditional Southern Californian (and General Southwestern): Alison Lohman (from Palm Springs) and believe it or not: Lady Gaga. :mrgreen:

I'd say that retraction of A is pretty common in California (and in other parts of the West), it's not as ''severe'' as in Canada tho'...But E's are still E's (only before a dark L there might be a change: yallow instead of yellow)... :wink:
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Re: California Vowel Shift in pop culture, betch

Postby KingHarvest » 2010-10-14, 2:44

Perfect examples of traditional Southern Californian (and General Southwestern): Alison Lohman (from Palm Springs) and believe it or not: Lady Gaga. :mrgreen:


Lady Gaga's from New York...
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Re: California Vowel Shift in pop culture, betch

Postby TeneReef » 2010-10-18, 2:02

Yeah,but being from New York City does not necessarily mean you can't opt for a Western accent.
Gaga and Brooke Shields (another NewYorker) sound like someone from Denver, Phoenix or San Diego, and not someone from NYC, they both pronounce pol~Paul long song ~ Hong Kong Don ~ dawn doll ~ call with the same unrounded vowel of 'fAther' :wink: So, they're really sound like a Californian with a conservative accent (think Alison Lohman rather than Alicia Silverstone :mrgreen: ).

I think Gaga had an accent coach (in her upper class highschool ;) ).
Compare Gaga's accent to Mariah Carey's accent. Mariah's accent screams: ''Long Island'' from afar. :P
Gaga's accent screams: Long Beach. :mrgreen:
Not only while singing but in interviews too. ;)
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Re: California Vowel Shift in pop culture, betch

Postby KingHarvest » 2010-10-18, 3:37

That isn't the dead giveaway that you think it is. Mariah Carey doesn't have a very strong accent, you wouldn't notice it if you weren't really looking for. Lady Gaga just speaks GA.
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Re: California Vowel Shift in pop culture, betch

Postby Formiko » 2010-10-18, 4:15

TeneReef wrote:Yeah,but being from New York City does not necessarily mean you can't opt for a Western accent.
Gaga and Brooke Shields (another NewYorker) sound like someone from Denver, Phoenix or San Diego, and not someone from NYC, they both pronounce pol~Paul long song ~ Hong Kong Don ~ dawn doll ~ call with the same unrounded vowel of 'fAther' :wink: So, they're really sound like a Californian with a conservative accent (think Alison Lohman rather than Alicia Silverstone :mrgreen: ).


While I'm from Long Island, I don't have a Long Island accent. Most people have trouble telling where I'm from. Although my wife screams Long Island. I still cringe sometimes when she talks :)
Like when she says "Quawfee" for coffee :)
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Re: California Vowel Shift in pop culture, betch

Postby MikeSoCal » 2011-09-04, 22:14

So, that is the California Vowel Shift? Travis is right. That's just an exaggerated version of what we used to call ValSpeak. There's no great mystery to it. It arose amoung young white females in the San Fernando Valley in the late 70s and early 80s. Moon Unit Zappa's song was just a comical version of the mannered pattern of speech popular in a sub-set of youth culture at a particular time and place that anyone who was young and in the LA area readily recognized as a Valley "accent."

While I hear bits of it every now and again, I usually only hear it from people (generally women) under 30. I'm 45, and have to admit that I was unaware it was so widespread.

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Re: California Vowel Shift in pop culture, betch

Postby TeneReef » 2011-09-05, 3:33

You can hear the female reporter here, she has elements of CVS in her accent:
http://www.smithsonianmag.com/video/Fis ... 99s%20Fate

You can also notice the difference between the older speakers with no shift,
and the younger ones, the accent is different. :P

Even in the word California, the conservative accent has a realization of /æ/ somewhere between [æ ] and [ɛ ], while the shifted generation uses a vowel sound between [a ] and [æ].

I don't like many elements of CVS (like the rounding of the cot/caught vowel, as in mom [mɒ:m]), I like the neutral Californian accent, like this one:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=opnmAwLA4L4
(Ashley Colburn is a native of San Diego)
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Re: California Vowel Shift in pop culture, betch

Postby Lenguas » 2011-09-07, 5:01

How different are my vowels to the average young Californian?

Would my accent go completely unnoticed in CA, or sound a little different?

http://www.datafilehost.com/download-fd11cca5.html

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Re: California Vowel Shift in pop culture, betch

Postby TeneReef » 2012-12-17, 21:13

People with CVS pronounce L.A. as Al Eigh (Al as in GA Al [Al Bundy]).
it's more of a girlie/gay accent
the normal Californian accent.


the california vowel shift and gay identity
http://americanspeech.­dukejournals.­org/­content/­86/­1/­32.­abstract

http://www.stanford.edu/~eckert/PDF/podesva2011.pdf
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Re: California Vowel Shift in pop culture, betch

Postby rustyjay » 2015-08-10, 1:28

I adamantly may be too old to exhibit the speech patterns of the California vowel shift as I am 44 years old. That being said I did grow up in San Diego during the 70s and 80s. I do have the cot caught merger but that seems to be about it. I can honestly say that no one in my circle of friends while I was growing up lowered any of their front vowels or forwarded any of there back vowels. In fact I have never met anyone in real life that speaks in this manner. I am skeptical that the CVS is even a real phenomenon and not something imagined by linguistic researchers.

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Re: California Vowel Shift in pop culture, betch

Postby Laulaa » 2016-04-26, 3:52

All I could think of when watching that "Shoes" clip was this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cAAmJslV48g

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Re: California Vowel Shift in pop culture, betch

Postby johnklepac » 2016-04-26, 14:15

tenasia wrote:I remember when I started picking up on the distinct accent several years ago on TV (the kinds of shows that are on E!, etc.). I've never been in California for an extended period of time, but I can dæfenetly pick it out. I was raised in Missouri and have been in Chicago for the past year, and I hear more and more young people (girls and guys who speak in a feminine register) using a California accent. It seems like they're just imitating the speech of the personalities they consume in the media because I know no one is raised speaking that way in the midwest, especially in Missouri.

Holy balls, FINALLY someone else is noticing this. The same is happening here in rural southwestern Ohio where I go to college. It mystifies me deeply, since I don't know all these people even to be particularly infatuated with California or the West.


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