The Canadian Shift in Montreal

Based on an impressionistic study of 16 young Canadians, mostly from Ontario, Clarke, Elms, and Youssef (1995) reported that the short front vowels of Canadian English are involved in a chain shift, the “Canadian Shift,” triggered by the merger of in low-back position, whereby is retracted to low-central position, and are lowered toward the low-front space vacated by . This article extends the study of the Canadian Shift to the English-speaking community of Montreal, Quebec, using acoustic rather than impressionistic analysis and a larger and more diverse sample. The new data motivate a revised view of the Shift, at least as it operates in Montreal, in which the three front vowels are retracted in a set of parallel shifts, rather than rotating in a chain shift.