Skip navigation
PDF (663 KB)
Pages 267-274
First published 2 July 2012

Representational Momentum May Explain Aspects of Vowel Shifts

Samarth Swarup, Corrine McCarthy


We present a computational model of vowel shifts, applied in particular to the Northern Cities Vowel Shift. Our model incorporates several empirically-derived rules of vowel change. The key aspect of this model is the use of representational momentum, which, we argue, explains multiple observed features of the shift. We compare our model with data on the Northern Cities Shift spanning more than a century and show that, when representational momentum is included, the results of the model match the data well.