One of the things that will strike anyone with any ear for accents in the Windsor/Detroit area is that the international boundary is also a linguistic boundary. Even though it is only 25 minutes door to door from my house to work (less than 20 km on the road), the accent difference among English speakers is quite striking. This is a result of the Northern Cities Vowel Shift
, a striking change in several vowels found primarily in certain areas of the US around the Great Lakes, but which is almost absent entirely in Canadian Great Lakes (i.e. southern Ontario) speech, even in a city like Windsor that is basically a suburb of Detroit.
I find it striking particularly because I do find myself accommodating to the NCVS, particularly in the pronunciation of words like borrow
. So, for any of you who are interested in American dialectology, or are just nosy and want to hear what I sound like, I've recorded a couple of short voice samples using the nifty voice recorder I ordered from work:Me, in my ordinary (southern-Ontario-born-and-bred) accentMe, assimilating to the Northern Cities Vowel Shift
I don't expect that these vowels will become standard in my pronunciation, but it will be interesting to see how much of the NCVS I use while talking to Michigan natives as opposed to at home.