February 1, 2016

Research Groups: Friday, February 5

9:30 AM - 11:00 AM
Psycholinguistics Group
Presentation by faculty member Amy Finn of the Department of Psychology.

11:00 AM - 12:30 PM
Language Variation and Change Group
James Walker (York University): "The sociolinguistic consequences of ethnolinguistic diversity for English in Toronto."

Recent patterns of immigration to Canada have altered the ethnolinguistic landscape of Toronto, transforming a predominantly monolingual city into one of the most diverse cities in the world. Language shift to English by immigrant groups has been mitigated by the city’s  'ethnic enclaves', which are said to promote heritage-language maintenance and to the development of 'ethnolects', ethnically marked ways of speaking. In this presentation, I report on an ongoing research project examining the sociolinguistic consequences of ethnolinguistic diversity for the English spoken in Toronto. Comparing speakers of different ethnic backgrounds across generations and by their responses to an ethnic orientation questionnaire, we analyze the quantitative patterning of a number of phonetic and grammatical features. Our results suggest that ethnolects do not reflect the effects of language transfer, which do not persist beyond the first generation, but that second-/third-generation speakers may use features at different rates to express their ethnic identity. Since the linguistic conditioning of features is largely parallel across all younger speakers, regardless of ethnic background and degree of ethnic orientation, we suggest that they all share the same linguistic system.

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