|Sound change and alternation|
In phonology, fronting is a sound change in which a vowel or consonant becomes fronted, advanced or pronounced farther to the front of the vocal tract than some reference point. Fronting may be triggered by a nearby sound, in which case it is a form of assimilation, or may occur on its own.
In Old English and Old Frisian, the back vowels /ɑ ɑː/ were fronted to /æ æː/ in certain cases. For more information, see Phonological history of Old English §§ First a-fronting and Second a-fronting.
Fronting can also take place as part of a chain shift. For example, in the Northern Cities Shift, the raising of /æ/ left room in the low-front area of the vowel space into which [ɑ] could expand. Thus words like cot and father are often pronounced with a low-front vowel [æ].
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