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Showing papers in "Language Variation and Change in 2005"


Journal ArticleDOI
Charles Boberg1
TL;DR: In this article, the authors extended the study of the Canadian Shift to the English-speaking community of Montreal, Quebec, using acoustic rather than impressionistic analysis and a larger and more diverse sample.
Abstract: Based on an impressionistic study of 16 young Canadians, mostly from Ontario, Clarke, Elms, and Youssef (1995) reported that the short front vowels of Canadian English are involved in a chain shift, the “Canadian Shift,” triggered by the merger of in low-back position, whereby is retracted to low-central position, and are lowered toward the low-front space vacated by . This article extends the study of the Canadian Shift to the English-speaking community of Montreal, Quebec, using acoustic rather than impressionistic analysis and a larger and more diverse sample. The new data motivate a revised view of the Shift, at least as it operates in Montreal, in which the three front vowels are retracted in a set of parallel shifts, rather than rotating in a chain shift.An earlier version of this paper was presented at NWAVE 32 (University of Pennsylvania, October 10, 2003). Thanks are due to members of the audience at that presentation, as well as to anonymous reviewers of the present version of the article, for helpful comments. In the preparation of the present version, the author is especially indebted to Anicka Fast and Erika Lawrance for research assistance and to Myrtis Fossey for assistance with statistical analysis. This research received financial support from three sources: the Research Grants Office of McGill University, the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, and the Fonds quebecois de la recherche sur la societe et la culture (Grant #2003-NC-81927).

95 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: This paper found that preceding and following phonological contexts are significant, indicating that there is a universal constraint on -t−d deletion consistent with universal phonetic and phonological properties of segments.
Abstract: A quantitative analysis of -t,-d deletion in contemporary British English reveals that preceding and following phonological contexts are significant, indicating that there is a universal constraint on -t,-d deletion consistent with universal phonetic and phonological properties of segments. However, in contrast to previous research, morphological class is not significant. Furthermore, our results do not support the hypothesis that -t,-d deletion is a variable rule that applies both lexically and postlexically. In sum, -t,-d deletion is a robust phenomenon in contemporary British English, but there are striking differences between British and North American varieties. Such differences suggest that -t,-d deletion is an ideal case study for further investigation of the phonology-phonetics interface, and adds to the available evidence from which an explanatory account of -t,-d deletion can be constructed.The first author acknowledges with gratitude the generous support of the Economic and Social Research Council of the United Kingdom (the ESRC) for research grant #R000238287, Grammatical Variation and Change in British English: Perspectives from York. We are also grateful to Ms. Heather A. Davies, who made it possible for us to work for a time in the same geographical location, as a result of which our original conception of the article was transformed. We would like to thank members of the phonetics/phonology research group at the University of York and our audiences at the following conferences for their comments and suggestions: VIEW 2000, University of Essex; NWAV 30, North Carolina State University, 2001; and the Biennial Meeting of the British Association of Academic Phoneticians, University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne 2002. Our anonymous reviewers deserve special mention as their insights prompted exacting revisions to our original manuscript. The result, we believe, is a stronger article; however, if points of contention remain, we welcome further discussion.

90 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: This article conducted a quantitative analysis of the markers used to introduce relative clauses in three vernacular varieties of English in Britain, and found that the use of zero relative markers is correlated with contextual constraints relating to surface level processing, that is, clause length, as well as clause complexity, across all communities.
Abstract: In this article we conduct a quantitative analysis of the markers used to introduce relative clauses in three vernacular varieties of English in Britain. In each variety there is a surprisingly low frequency of WH words in subject relatives and negligible use in nonsubject relatives, suggesting that the WH forms have not yet penetrated the respective vernaculars. Variable rule analyses of the multiple factors conditioning that and zero relative markers reveal that the varieties pattern quite similarly with respect to significance of factors. For the zero variant, there is a favoring effect of (1) sentence structure and (2) indefinite antecedents; however there are dialect specific differences in some nuances of the constraint ranking of factors. On the other hand, the use of zero is also highly correlated with contextual constraints relating to surface level processing, that is, clause length, as well as clause complexity, across all communities. Taken together, these findings provide evidence for both dialect specific and universal constraints on relative marker use, which can be used to further elucidate the task of conducting broad cross-community comparisons. The results also provide support for an important distinction in linguistic change – those changes that are imposed from the outside (like the WH relative markers) and those that arise from within (like that and zero relative markers) proceed very differently in mainstream as compared to peripheral varieties.The first author acknowledges with gratitude the generous support of the Economic and Social Research Council of the United Kingdom (the ESRC) for research grant #R000239097, Back to the Roots: The Legacy of British Dialects. We thank our colleagues Karen Corrigan and Anthony Warner for stimulating and insightful discussion of this article, which greatly improved the final version it has taken. We also are indebted to Jonathan Hope, Terttu Nevalainen, Ronald Macaulay, Helena Raumolin-Brunberg, Suzanne Romaine, and James Walker for comments, as well as two anonymous reviewers. We dedicate this article to the “northerners” in Cumnock, Culleybackey, Maryport, and Portavogie who took the time to share their stories with us, providing this legacy of British dialects for the future.

79 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this article, a combination of observational and experimental data from recent research into the intonation of New Zealand English highlights generational differences in rising intoneation patterns. But, the data reveal a shift from late rises in mid-age speakers to earlier rise onsets in younger speakers.
Abstract: A combination of observational and experimental data from recent research into the intonation of New Zealand English highlights generational differences in rising intonation patterns. As well as a general increase in the incidence of rising intonation in statement utterances, the data reveal a shift from late rises in mid-age speakers to earlier rise onsets in younger speakers. These differences are discussed in the context of the intonational phonology of New Zealand English and in terms of the functional need for a distinction between question and statement rises.The author would like to thank participants at the 2003 UK Language Variation and Change conference for comments on an oral presentation of the data discussed in this article, and the Royal Society of New Zealand for financial support under Marsden grant VUW604. Special thanks go to Bob Ladd for insightful observations on an earlier version of this article.

76 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this paper, the authors compare data from Southern Brazil on the use of a gente in the 1970s and the 1990s, and discuss the linguistic and social embedding of this process in terms of the Labovian classification of changes as being "from above" or "from below".
Abstract: The Portuguese NP a gente, meaning “the people,” is undergoing grammaticalization and is acquiring characteristics of a personal pronoun, increasingly replacing first-person plural nos, meaning “we,” in speech. In Brazilian Portuguese, this process seems to be correlated with a number of other ongoing morphosyntactic changes. In this study I compare data from Southern Brazil on the use of a gente in the 1970s and the 1990s. Quantitative analyses are conducted in terms of two methodological approaches: apparent-time and real-time studies. In the real-time analysis, two kinds of studies are discussed: a trend study, with two comparable groups of speakers, and a panel study, with the same speakers compared longitudinally. The linguistic and social embedding of this process is discussed in terms of the Labovian classification of changes as being “from above” or “from below.”I am very grateful to Gregory R. Guy for supervising this research project while I was a visiting scholar at New York University (2001–2002) and for his kind and wise assistance in the preparation of the lecture (presented at NYU on September 20, 2002), on which this article is based. I also acknowledge the valuable work of my research assistants at Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil: Katia M. L. Aires, Greice L. de Souza, Karine Q. da Silva, Patricia da R. Mazzoca, Leonardo Z. Maya, and Melissa Schossler. This research was conducted with the support of Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Cientifico e Tecnologico (CNPq), an agency of the Brazilian government dedicated to scientific and technological development, grant 200740/01-6(NV); Fundacao de Amparo a Pesquisa do Estado do Rio Grande do Sul (FAPERGS), grant 00514482; and Pro-Reitoria de Pesquisa da Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul.

56 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The authors examined two well-known innovations in Canadian English (CE): retracting and lowering, with a view to discovering the routes by which phonological change diffuses, and focused on preadolescent and adolescent speakers, age groups that are often overlooked in favor of adult samples.
Abstract: This article examines two well-known innovations in Canadian English (CE)—(ae) Retraction and Lowering (e.g., mad, pat) and (aw) Fronting (e.g., loud, mouse)— with a view to discovering the routes by which phonological change diffuses. The data are from St. John's, Newfoundland, one of the few remaining Canadian communities where the variety spoken by the founding population remains relatively intact. Because this variety is leveling toward CE (Clarke, 1991), the St. John's context enables us to tap into processes of dialect shift while they are taking place. This glimpse reveals the developmental nature of linguistic constraints during the early stages of change. Moreover, by focusing on preadolescent and adolescent speakers, age groups that are often overlooked in favor of adult samples (Eckert, 1988:183), the analysis situates the locus of change on the adolescent years. Taken together, these results provide an important gauge for tracking the progress of phonological change.Special thanks to Jack Chambers, Sandra Clarke, Hank Rogers, and Sali Tagliamonte for generously sharing their support, insights, and expertise. Appreciation also goes to Erik Thomas for imparting his knowledge of phonetic conditioning effects. Finally, I am grateful to the four anonymous reviewers whose comments strengthened this article enormously. All errors remain, of course, my own. An earlier version of this article was presented at NWAV 31 in October 2002. This work was supported in part by a Dean's Fellowship at Memorial University of Newfoundland, and by SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship #752-2002-2177.

37 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Based on the Corpus of Early English Correspondence (CEEC) and the Helsinki Corpus of English Texts (HC), the authors describes how the second-person object form diffused among the population of England during the late middle and early modern period (1350-1710).
Abstract: Based on the Corpus of Early English Correspondence (CEEC) and the Helsinki Corpus of English Texts (HC), this study describes how the second-person object form you diffused among the population of England during the late middle and early modern period (1350–1710). After the take-off in c. 1480, you replaced the old subject form ye very rapidly, in about three generations of speakers. This article shows that this was a change from below in terms of social awareness, because you was preferred in oral genres and informal registers in the earliest stages of its use. The study suggests that the social origin of you was among the middle ranks, and women led the change in its critical period of diffusion. No specific region has been found as the origin of this change, but London and the Court adopted it before the North and East Anglia.The research reported here was supported in part by the Academy of Finland Centre of Excellence funding for the Research Unit for Variation and Change in English at the Department of English, University of Helsinki. I am grateful to an anonymous referee for helpful comments on an earlier version of this article.

32 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The authors examined the variation between DO and the full verb in negative declaratives in this database, from 1500 to 1710, and showed that both register variation and age-grading are relevant, and that the periods 1500-1575 and 1600-1710 have radically distinct properties.
Abstract: The development of “supportive” (or “periphrastic”) DO in English suffered a curious and sharp reversal late in the 16th century in negative declaratives and questions according to Ellegard's (1953) database, with a recovery late in the following century. This article examines the variation between DO and the full verb in negative declaratives in this database, from 1500 to 1710. It is shown that both register variation and age-grading are relevant, and that the periods 1500–1575 and 1600–1710 have radically distinct properties. The second period shows substantial age-grading, and is interpreted as having introduced a fresh evaluative principle governing register variation. Negative questions supply data that suggest that the development of clitic negation may have been implicated in the development of the new evaluation. This change in evaluation accounts for the apparent reversal in the development of DO, and we can abandon the view that it was a consequence of grammatical restructuring.

28 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: This paper used politeness theory and the use of variationist approaches to posit, and test, the hypothesis of a type of pragmaticalization, which I call Politeness-Induced Semantic Change (PISC).
Abstract: This article contributes to a growing body of theory that posits language-external, social factors as a primary motor in diachronic change. Politeness theory and the use of variationist approaches enable us to posit, and test, the hypothesis of a type of pragmaticalization, which I call Politeness-Induced Semantic Change (PISC). Historical data on quand meme are presented that give tentative credence to such a model. Moeschler and de Spengler's (1981) and Waltereit's (2001) speech-act theoretic analyses of quand meme are reinterpreted within the framework of politeness theory and sociopragmatics. The ensuing corpus investigation of the grammaticalization and pragmatico-semantic evolution of quand meme from 1500-2000 highlights the fact that not only the innovation but also the propagation of a new form-function configuration depend on social factors; politeness theory may have explanatory power in capturing the ever-changing social patterning of linguistic features and the conditions that favor the spread of innovation. © 2005 Cambridge University Press.

19 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
James A. Walker1
TL;DR: This article examined the constraints on not-contraction in three varieties argued to be representative of Early AAE and found that the most consistent effect was negative concord, reflecting a recurrent process of reinforcement in the history of English negation.
Abstract: Studies of negation in African American English (AAE) typically focus on its most salient exponents, ain't and negative concord. Because ain't arose during the development of auxiliary- and not-contraction in Early Modern English, an interesting question is whether constraints on ain't can be attributed to more general constraints on contraction. This article examines the constraints on not-contraction in three varieties argued to be representative of Early AAE. Although the analysis is complicated by the ever-narrowing variable context of ain't and by the competition of not-contraction with auxiliary contraction, results are largely parallel across the three varieties, pointing to a common origin. The parallels between ain't and not-contraction provide evidence that ain't is the extension of more general processes of contraction. The most consistent effect, the presence of negative concord, is argued to reflect a recurrent process of reinforcement in the history of English negation.The data on which this study is based were extracted from corpora housed in the Sociolinguistics Laboratory at the University of Ottawa. I gratefully acknowledge Professor Shana Poplack's permission to use these data. Earlier versions of this article were presented at the annual meeting of the American Dialect Society (Washington, DC, January 2001) and the third U.K. Language Variation and Change conference (York, U.K., July 2001). The analysis benefited from discussions with and comments from Greg Guy, Dennis Preston, Jennifer Smith, and Gerard Van Herk, as well as several anonymous reviewers. Special thanks go to Sali Tagliamonte and Malcah Yaeger-Dror, whose comments substantially improved the article, and to Anthony Warner for help with translating the Old English examples. Any remaining errors are my own responsibility.

18 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The authors found that zero copula use in Sri Lankan English is both a creole-like feature and an optional syntactic feature of those who use English a lot, but for whom it is not a native language, or as a substratal influence in language shift.
Abstract: The focus of this article is zero copula use in Sri Lankan English speech. Zero copula use has been at the heart of variationist studies, but has received little attention in New English studies because of its limited use in these varieties. In this article I look at zero copula in Sri Lankan English to determine whether the patterns of use parallel those of AAVE, Caribbean Creoles, or other copula studies on varieties of English including New Englishes. The theoretical issue raised in this article is whether zero copula use in Sri Lankan English can be seen as both a creole-like feature and an optional syntactic feature of those who use English a lot, but for whom it is not a native language, or as a substratal influence in language shift. The variable findings for present tense BE demonstrate that speakers of Sri Lankan English make only limited use of BE absence. BE absence appears to be optional in certain environments where Standard English would require the are copula/auxiliary. Zero copula use in Sri Lankan English speech is especially interesting because Sri Lankan English emerged from an educational background and not from a creole setting. However, the linguistic data for zero copula use in Sri Lankan English suggests that the type of complement and the preceding phonological environment play a significant role on zero copula use, which is comparable to that of other varieties of English, focusing on the study of BE absence.A shorter version of this article was presented under a different title at the Triangle Colloquium on Literature and Linguistics held at the University of Sheffield, UK on September 30, 2000. I wish to gratefully acknowledge the excellent comments and insights provided by the two journal reviewers on earlier drafts of this article. Any shortcomings that exist are my own. I would like to dedicate this work to Dr. Anthea Fraser Gupta (University of Leeds) and Prof. Siromi Fernando (University of Colombo).

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The authors examined three representations of South African Indian English in print: The Adventures of Applesammy and Naidoo (1946) by Ray Rich; The Lahnee's Pleasure (c. 1972) by Ronnie Govender; and The Wedding (2001) by Imraan Coovadia.
Abstract: This article examines three representations of South African Indian English in print: The Adventures of Applesammy and Naidoo (1946) by Ray Rich; The Lahnee's Pleasure (c. 1972) by Ronnie Govender; and The Wedding (2001) by Imraan Coovadia. The use of dialect is a defining feature of all three texts. I show that the tools provided by variation theory are particularly useful in the analysis of literature that uses direct speech to portray characters and types. In particular, the principles of variation theory can be used to: (a) reveal the nature of stereotyping in the first text (a parody), which relies on the suppression of variation, and the generalization of linguistic and social characteristics; (b) evaluate the fidelity of a “realist” dialect representation of the community in the second text (a play); and (c) help characterize the nonrealist, nonstereotyping, imaginative use of language in the third text (a post-modern novel).An early version of the research for this article was presented at the IAWE (International Association of World Englishes) Conference, Potchefstroom University, 2001; at seminars at the University of Cape Town and University of Pennsylvania in 2002; and at NWAVE (New Ways of Analysing Variation in English and Other Languages), Stanford University, 2002. A revised and expanded version was presented at ASNEL (Association for the Study of New English Literatures), Magdeburg, 2003. I thank participants at these conferences and three anonymous LVC referees for feedback and comments, Malcah Yaeger-Dror for discussions of her related research, and Sarah and Clare Johnson for the graphics. I am especially grateful to the University of Cape Town's Research Committee for a grant that supported this research.

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: This article investigated the issue of regional variation in Early African American English (AAE) and found that despite differences in overall rates across regions, the linguistic conditioning largely remains constant, and that the shared history and circumstances of language contact and development led to an overall identity of forms and conditioning factors across regional varieties.
Abstract: The different population ecologies of slavery-era America necessitate an investigation into the issue of regional variation in Early African American English (AAE). This article addresses this issue through the Ottawa Repository of Early African American Correspondence, a corpus of letters written by semiliterate African American settlers in Liberia between 1834 and 1866. We investigate nonstandard verbal -s and its conditioning by linguistic and social factors, including each writer's regional origin in the United States. Results show that, despite differences in overall rates across regions, the linguistic conditioning largely remains constant. These results suggest that subtle regional distinctions in Early AAE existed when specific settlement and population ecologies encouraged them, but that the shared history and circumstances of language contact and development led to an overall identity of forms and conditioning factors across regional varieties.The data on which this study is based are taken from the Ottawa Repository of Early African American Correspondence (OREAAC; Van Herk & Poplack, 2003), housed in the Sociolinguistics Laboratory at the University of Ottawa. Financial support was provided by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada in the form of a postdoctoral fellowship to the first author. Earlier versions of the analyses reported here were presented at meetings of the American Dialect Society (Chicago, January 2000) and the Canadian Linguistics Association (University of Toronto, June 2002). We thank the audiences at these presentations for their comments and suggestions, and we thank Shana Poplack and two anonymous reviewers for comments on earlier drafts of this paper. Any remaining errors are our own responsibility.


Journal ArticleDOI
Shu-Chuan Tseng1
TL;DR: This article examined monosyllabic word merger with pronouns in the first syllable position and found that the output is a good candidate for a coalescent compound when the immediately neighboring vocalic parts constitute a front-back contrast or they are identical.
Abstract: Spoken language reduction in spontaneous speech constitutes an important part of the process of language change. Utilizing a Mandarin corpus, this article examines monosyllabic word merger with pronouns in the first syllable position. The shortened form marks a respective vocalic or consonantal element stemming from the source syllables. This article proposes that there exists a target syllable for a pair of monosyllabic words, but it is not unique. Depending on the syllable structure of the source syllables, different lines of developments of target syllables are possible. When the combination of the source syllables allows a development into a well-formed Mandarin syllable, the output is a good candidate for a coalescent compound. Furthermore, when the immediately neighboring vocalic parts constitute a front-back contrast or they are identical, it is likely that word merger is produced. Durational results also show that a monosyllabic word merger is usually longer than a single syllable.The author would like to thank the reviewers of the journal Language Variation and Change and two of my colleagues, Professor Ying-chin Lin and Professor Jackson T.-S. Sun, for their constructive comments. The study presented in this article was financially supported by the National Science Council, grant NSC-92-2411-H-001-075 and by the Ministry of Education, grant 91-E-FA06-4-4.