The Atlas of North American English

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The Atlas of North American English: Phonetics, Phonology and Sound Change (ANAE; formerly, the Phonological Atlas of North America) is an overview of the pronunciation patterns (accents) in all the major urbanized regional dialects of the English language spoken in the United States and Canada. It is the result of a large-scale survey by linguists William Labov, Sharon Ash, and Charles Boberg. It traces sound changes in progress in North America in the 1990s, and seeks to redefine dialect boundaries based on acoustic analysis of speech samples.

The Atlas of North American English received the Leonard Bloomfield Book Award at the 2008 meeting of the Linguistic Society of America.[1]


ANAE employs a "binary" phonemic notation system designed to be maximally abstract and economical so that it can be used to describe chain shifts with ease. The checked vowels are represented by single letters, and each of the diphthongs and historically long vowels is represented by a nuclear vowel followed by a glide, /y/, /w/ or /h/. /y/ represents any kind of front upglide [j, i, ɪ, e, ɛ], /w/ represents any kind of back upglide [w, u, ʊ, o, ɤ], and /h/ represents an inglide or long monophthong.[2] The following tables provide a comparison between ANAE's notation and Wikipedia's diaphonemic transcription system.

Short vowels
ANAE WP Example
i ɪ bit
e ɛ bet
æ æ bat
u ʊ foot
ʌ ʌ hut
o ɒ hot
Long vowels
ANAE WP Example
iy beat
ey bait
oy ɔɪ quoit
ay bite
iw juː suit
uw boot
ow boat
aw bout
ah ɑː balm
oh ɔː bought
Before tautosyllabic /r/
ANAE WP Example
ihr ɪər fear
ehr ɛər fair
ʌhr ɜːr fur
ahr ɑːr far
uhr ʊər moor
ohr ɔːr four
ɔhr for


  1. ^ "Leonard Bloomfield Book Award Previous Holders". Linguistic Society of America. Retrieved January 11, 2015.
  2. ^ Labov, Ash & Boberg (2006), pp. 11–15.


  • Labov, William; Ash, Sharon; Boberg, Charles (2006). The Atlas of North American English: Phonetics, Phonology and Sound Change. Berlin and New York: Mouton de Gruyter. ISBN 3-11-016746-8.

External links

  • Interactive online version of the Atlas of North American English at deGryuter Mouton (Requires JavaScript, Java, Flash, and Adobe Reader)
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