Canadian Raising in Chicagoland: The production and perception of a marginal contrast

José Ignacio Hualde, Tatiana Luchkina, Christopher D. Eager

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In some North American English varieties the diphthong /aɪ/ has developed a distinctively higher nucleus before voiceless consonants and also before a flapped /t/. The phenomenon is known as Canadian Raising, as it was first described for Canadian English. We report on variation in the production and perception of this distinction in a group of female and male speakers from the Chicago area. We focus on the context before flapped /t/ and /d/. The production results show that there is a significant difference in the quality of both the nucleus and the offglide between these two contexts, albeit of a smaller magnitude than the difference observed before word-final voiceless and voiced consonants. In addition, we find a small difference in duration between diphthongs in the two pre-flap contexts. In perception, our subjects were only moderately successful in recognizing words in minimal pairs containing the target diphthong preceding a flap (as in writer vs rider), although with much higher than chance accuracy. A Quadratic Discriminant Analysis model classified the stimuli with substantially greater accuracy than our subjects. We conclude that in this English variety there is a contrast between a higher diphthong [ʌi] and a lower diphthong [aɪ], but this contrast is only marginal. This study contributes to our understanding of marginal contrasts in production and perception. The understanding of these contrasts has both theoretical and practical relevance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15-44
Number of pages30
JournalJournal of Phonetics
StatePublished - Nov 2017


  • Allophony
  • Canadian Raising
  • Marginal contrasts
  • Phonemic split
  • Quasi-phonemes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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