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I know that in Californian accent, /æ/ is sometimes realized as [eɪ] only before /ŋ/. So words like hang, bang, rang, sang, gang, which normally end with /æŋ/, end with [eɪŋ]. The reason why it happens is usually attributed to the effect of the following "nasal" sound [ŋ], but I'm not certain about the reason. Also I have only heard it for words with /ŋ/, not other nasals.

I have two closely related questions (to which I didn't find an answer by searching cursorily):

  • Does /æ/ become [eɪ] before other nasals like /m/ and /n/? Or does it only happen before /ŋ/?
  • Is there any other American accent where /æ/ is realized as [eɪ] before nasals?
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To answer one of your questions, this vowel shift does not happen before nasals other than /ŋ/, but in some dialects it also happens before /g/. Here is a Grammar Girl article about it.

Where does it happen? I don't have a complete answer for that. Grammar Girl says that it happens in the Pacific Northwest and Western Canada, but as John Lawler mentions in the comments, it also happens in the Upper Midwest (the home of the Northern Cities Shift) — see this question. And your question seems to indicate that it's spreading to California.

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