Definition of vowel shift in English:

vowel shift

noun

  • 1A phonetic change in a vowel or vowels.

    • ‘Languages are constantly evolving, inventing new words, adopting new words from elsewhere, undergoing vowel shifts, and you name it.’
    • ‘Observations suggest that some Australians may be following the NZ lead in the vowel shift, but the pattern appears to be increasing divergence from the old near-identity.’
    • ‘All of these languages are characterized by a highly inflected grammar, meaning that grammatical structure is indicated by prefixes, suffixes, vowel shifts, and other changes of words within a sentence.’
    • ‘I can accept that cks could become x, but why the vowel shift?’
    • ‘There is more to changing fashions and vowel shifts than matters of taste or style, as a conference organised by the Institute of Ideas will examine this weekend in London.’
    1. 1.1A series of changes between medieval and modern English affecting the long vowels of the standard language.
      • ‘The Great Vowel Shift is something of a mystery, and linguists have been unable to account for why it took place.’
      • ‘In part, the explanation for the inconsistent pronunciation probably lies in the Great Vowel Shift which occurred around the 15th century.’
      • ‘When the Great Vowel Shift took place, the vowels rose upward, pushing the next higher vowel into the slot above.’
      • ‘Move the cursor over a year to see how far the Great Vowel Shift had advanced by that time!’
      • ‘English had genuine ‘long vowels’ until the Great Vowel Shift between 1400 and 1600.’