From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Pacific Northwest English is a
dialect of the
English language spoken in the
Pacific Northwest. The Pacific Northwest, defined as an area
that includes part of the west coast of
United States and
Canada, is home to a highly diverse populace, which is
reflected in the historical and continuing development of the
dialect. As is the case of English spoken in any region, not all
features are used by all speakers in the region, and not all
features are restricted in use only to the region. The dialect
is very similar to
General American with the cot-caught merger, and some
features in common with Prairies and Californian English.
Linguists who studied English as spoken in the West before
and in the period immediately after the Second World War tended
to find few if any distinct patterns unique to the Western
. However, several decades later, with a
more settled population and continued immigration from around
the globe, linguists began to notice a set of emerging
characteristics of English spoken in the Pacific Northwest.
However, Pacific Northwest English still remains remarkably
close to the "standard American accent," which shows, for
example, the cot/caught merger (although this even is not
universal, especially among non-youths in the
Hear Pacific Northwest English
As a variety of
North American English, Pacific Northwest English is similar
to most other forms of North American speech in being a
rhotic accent, which is historically a significant marker in
differentiating English varieties. Notable is the absence of
has merged with
/ɑ/ through the
front vowels are raised before
so that the
near-open front unrounded vowel
raised to a
close-mid front unrounded vowel
This change makes for
minimal pairs such as rang and rain, both
having the same vowel
differing from rang
in other varieties of English.
- The vowels in words such as
Mary, marry, merry are
merged to the
open-mid front unrounded vowel
- Most speakers do not distinguish between the
open-mid back rounded vowel
open back unrounded vowel
characteristic of the cot-caught merger. A notable exception
occurs with some speakers over the age of 60.
vowels such as
as in boat and
as in bait, have acquired qualities much closer to
monophthongs in some speakers. However, the continuing
presence of slight offglides (if less salient than those of,
Received Pronunciation) and convention in
transcription for English account for continuing use of
[eɪ] before g.: "egg" and "leg" pronounced "ayg" and
- The Pacific Northwest also has some of the features of
the California vowel shift and the Canadian vowel shift.
is raised and diphthongized to
before nasal consonants among some speakers in Portland, and
in some areas of Southern Oregon. This feature is virtually
absent further north, where
is lowered in the direction of
although to a much lesser extent than in neighboring
regions. This is more common in male speakers; female
speakers may even raise it slightly. Before
in the Northern Pacific Northwest it is pronounced tense,
and in Portland, before
is also tense.
may be identified with the phoneme
- The Close central rounded vowel
Close back unrounded vowel
is found in Portland, and some areas of Southern Oregon, but
is generally not found further north, where the vowel is
- Somes speakers have a tendency to slightly raise
before voiceless consonants. It is strongest in rural areas
in British Columbia and Washington, and in older and middle
aged speakers in Vancouver and Seattle. In other areas
is occasionally raised. This phenomenon is known as
Canadian Raising, or pre-fortis clipping.
- Some speakers in Eastern Washington and Oregon either
perceive or produce the pairs
close to each other,
resulting in a merger between "pen" and "pin."
Pacific Northwest English
British Columbian English have several words still in
current use which are loanwords from the
Chinook Jargon, which was widely spoken throughout
British Columbia by all ethnicities well into the middle of
the 20th Century.
potlatch, muckamuck, saltchuck, and other Chinook Jargon
words are widely used by people who do not speak Chinook Jargon.
These words tend to be shared with, but are not as common in,
the states of
Alaska and, to a lesser degree,
and Ben Ward, editors (2006). American Voices: How
Dialects Differ from Coast to Coast. Malden, MA:
Blackwell Publishing, 140, 234-236.
Labov, William, Sharon Ash, and Charles Boberg (2006).
The Atlas of North American English. Berlin:
Mouton-de Gruyter, 68.
This article uses material from
California English and
West/Central Canadian English.
- Vowels and Consonants: An Introduction to the Sounds
of Languages. Peter Ladefoged, 2003. Blackwell
- Language in Society: An Introduction to
Sociolinguistics. Suzanne Romaine, 2000. Oxford
- How We Talk: American Regional English Today.
Allan Metcalf, 2000. Houghton Mifflin.
British Columbian English
Chinook Jargon use by English Language speakers
Do you speak American? PBS
Phonological Atlas of North America
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