Definition of vowel shift in English:

vowel shift

noun

  • 1A phonetic change in a vowel or vowels.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I can accept that cks could become x, but why the vowel shift?’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Languages are constantly evolving, inventing new words, adopting new words from elsewhere, undergoing vowel shifts, and you name it.’
    1. 1.1the Great Vowel Shift A series of changes between medieval and modern English affecting the long vowels of the standard language.
      • ‘When the Great Vowel Shift took place, the vowels rose upward, pushing the next higher vowel into the slot above.’
      • ‘English had genuine ‘long vowels’ until the Great Vowel Shift between 1400 and 1600.’
      • ‘The Great Vowel Shift is something of a mystery, and linguists have been unable to account for why it took place.’
      • ‘Move the cursor over a year to see how far the Great Vowel Shift had advanced by that time!’
      • ‘In part, the explanation for the inconsistent pronunciation probably lies in the Great Vowel Shift which occurred around the 15th century.’