The Great Vowel Shift of the English Language At some point between the time Chaucer wrote and the period of the Tudor kings and queens, the English language underwent a shift in the pronunciation of vowels, i.e., the point of articulation of vowels in the mouth shifted. This anomaly has come to be known as the Great Vowel Shift of the English language. Up to at least AD 1400 English vowels were pronounced the way vowels are pronounced in all other European languages: “a” was pronounced as “ah” as in “father; “e” was pronounced “aa” as in “way”; and “i” was pronounced “ee” as in “meek”. At some point between the time of Chaucer and the time of Shakespeare, the point of articulation for these English vowels became raised and fronted, so that “a” became “aa” as in “way”; “e” became “ee” as in “meek”; and “i” became diphthongized into “ai” as in “aisle”. This is the reason that in any other European language names like Diana and Dido are pronounced “Dee-ana” and “Dee-do” but in English they are generally pronounced “Dai-ana” and “Dai-do”. Linguists do not know why this shift happened. Made with Xara Website by Susan Smily