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The Shape of Vowel Space

The overall shape of James H.'s vowel space, shown in Figure [*], is unlike that of any other speaker studied so far. It appears as if the bottom of the vowel triangle was cut off, so that very little remains in the low corner. The entire top edge of the vowel space is very sparsely populated, unlike Chicano and Chicago, where the top edge of vowel space is the most dense part of the entire distribution. Unlike the other dialects, there is no gap in the high-central area relative to the high-front and high-back regions. The filled gap may be due to the fronting of /u:, u/. The generalization that there is always a gap in the high-central region of vowel space appears to be incorrect. Instead, it appears that phonetic vowel systems may or may not make use of that region of vowel space.

Figure: 1637 measurements of F1, F2.

Thomas Veatch 2005-01-25