chapter  3
Middle English Long Vowels
Pages 81

In some parts of England, ME / i : / has moved no further than [ai~ a i] (Maps 25-26). Pronunciations of this type are concentrated in the south west Midlands and South West with the notable exception of west Somerset, Devon and Cornwall. There are further enclaves along the South coast and in Norfolk and coastal Suffolk. These forms are clearly recessive. It would appear that ME / i : / tended to develop a central onset in southern England in order to avoid ME /a i / which has generally remained in the south. In the north however, ME /a i / was reduced to a monophthong at an early date and the evolution of ME / i : / has been via fronted onsets. Thus, [ei] appears in Northumberland and north Cumberland (sometimes centralised [ei]) and in east Yorkshire. It is also found to a small extent in the west Midlands and in parts of Wiltshire, Somerset and Hampshire where it may be a further develop­

ment of [ai] (Maps 27-28). The development would appear to be recessive.