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The influence of suburban development and metropolitan fragmentation on language variation and change: Evidence from Greater St. Louis

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Daniel Duncan



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Cambridge University Press, 2019.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


The distances between urban and suburban spaces, while small in Euclidean terms,have a rather large social reality. This paper calls attention to two reasons for this—suburbandevelopment and metropolitan fragmentation—and situates these phenomena within thecontext of sociological and historical thought about metropolitan areas. I test their role inlinguistic variation through a case study of three Northern Cities Shift features (raised TRAP,fronted LOT, and lowered THOUGHT) in English of the St. Louis metropolitan area. I show thatthese features diffused throughout the region in three different ways. Additionally,phonological conditioning of LOT-fronting differs between urban and suburban speakers, andretreat from urban dialect features is led in the suburbs. These findings highlight the need toconsider the geography of metropolitan areas more deeply in studies of language variationand change in metropolitan areas, as similarity across a metropolitan area should not beassumed a priori.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Duncan D

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Linguistic Geography

Year: 2019

Volume: 7

Issue: 2

Pages: 82-97

Online publication date: 07/11/2019

Acceptance date: 18/02/2019

Date deposited: 19/02/2019

ISSN (print): 2049-7547

Publisher: Cambridge University Press


DOI: 10.1017/jlg.2019.8


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