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 January 19, 2015

Wil Rankinen's article, "The Michigan Upper Peninsula English Vowel System in Finnish American Communities in Marquette County," appears in the journal American Speech

University of Rochester's own Wil Rankinen had his article, "The Michigan Upper Peninsula English Vowel System in Finnish American Communities in Marquette County," published in the Fall 2014 issue of American Speech, 89 (3), 312-347. 

His abstract is available below and here:

This article investigates the acoustic properties of the American English vowel spaces of 65 Finnish Americans from Marquette County in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (UP). The author compares the general system of these UP vowel spaces to substrate Finnish and neighboring English vowel systems and examines the subsystems of these UP vowel spaces along the sociolinguistic variables of language dominance, age, sex, and educational attainment to ascertain whether the internal system dynamics show any substrate or exogenous characteristics. The apparent-time evidence in this study indicates a potential change in progress in this UP speech community, with younger speakers using variants typically associated with neighboring Canada (e.g., low-back merger of /ᵅ, ᵓ/, the lowering and retraction of /ᴵ, ε, æ/, the raising of /aᴵ, aᶷ/ nuclei before voiceless obstruents). Consequently, Michigan’s UP more closely aligns with the Canadian English’s regional boundary than the proposed “residual territory” as defined by Labov, Ash, and Boberg.