Discerning the sub-phonemic identity of pre-nasal /æ/ in British Columbia English
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There are two features of /æ/ in British Columbia (BC) English that are widely attested in the literature: it is undergoing retraction and lowering and it is sensitive to the influence of certain following consonants. The present study aims to utilize both features to evaluate the phonological status of /æ/ before nasal consonants in BC English by examining the progression of sound change and the phonemic organization of /æ/ in different environments. Specifically, production and perception results are taken together to evaluate the phonetic position of pre-nasal /æ/ relative to other environments. These results are interpreted within a modular feedforward architecture of phonology to establish the phonological (allophonic) and phonetic (shallowphonic) rules that govern the internal relationships between the subphonemic elements of /æ/ in BC English. Further, the findings of this study provide evidence for the allophone being the target of sound change, rather than the phoneme.