February 29, 2016

Research Groups: Friday, March 4

9:30 AM - 11:00 AM
Phonetics/Phonology Group
Paper discussion: Green, Christopher (2015). The foot domain in Bambara. Language, 91(1), e1-e26 (online content).

11:00 AM - 12:30 PM
Language Variation and Change Group
Véronique Lacoste (Universität Freiburg): "'We are like bouillon': Sociophonetic diversity among Haitians in Toronto."

The Toronto Haitian English project, on which this paper is based, aims at documenting the variety of English that Haitian immigrants speak in the highly multilingual city of Toronto and identifying its characteristic phonetic features. Sociolinguistic research in Canada has recently focused on ethnolinguistic variation in Toronto English, asking for instance to what extent immigrant communities play a part in language change and how they contribute to Canada's linguistic diversity (e.g. Hoffman & Walker 2010, Nagy et al. 2013, Baxter & Peters 2013). 

This paper examines aspects of the English phonetic repertoire used by a heterogeneous group of Haitians living in Toronto or in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). The data comes from 18 sociolinguistic interviews and concerns two categories of English speakers: 1. Informants born in Haiti, with Haitian parents and whose mother tongue is not English and 2. Informants born in Toronto or elsewhere in Canada, whose parents are both Haitian and whose mother tongue or dominant language is English. In addition to English, all the speakers in the sample have variable competence in French and Haitian Creole. Haitians' realisations of dental fricatives, intervocalic phoneme /t/, (t,d) deletion and phoneme /ɹ/ will be investigated. The phonetic analysis will be presented in correlation with the social variables of age and gender, and length of residence in Toronto. Quantitative results in Rbrul reveal high intra-speaker variation for Haitians who were born in Haiti and have learnt English as a foreign language, including e.g. variants characteristic of mainstream Canadian English, variants commonly observed in francophone speakers of English or realisations typical of Haitian Creole. Some phonetic variants produced by Haitians match those found in the speech of Anglophone Caribbean speakers (e.g. Jamaicans, who are numerically well represented in the Toronto area). Speakers in the second category, however, were found to produce a majority of mainstream Canadian English features.

Haitians' English phonology, especially for speakers in category 1, reflects their sociocultural and sociolinguistic situation of "in-betweens" in the Canadian diaspora (Madibbo & Maury 2001). They exhibit a certain "complexity, singularity, une singularité complexe" (Interview with Josué, 2014). However, there is no indication at this point that a Haitian English variety is emerging in the Toronto area, which may be explained by the current lack of strong community ties and a relatively young settlement in the city (in contrast to the more established Haitian community in Montreal), as well as the speakers' individual socio-historical trajectories.

1:30 PM - 2:45 PM
Semantics Group
Angelika Kiss (Ph.D.): "Remarks on the individual/stage-level predicate distinction."

Some predicates can apply to certain temporally limited stages of an individual’s life, while other predicates apply to the individual itself. The former are therefore called stage-level predicates (SLPs), and the latter, individual-level predicates (ILPs). It has been proposed that in English, this distinction is reflected in the grammar, and despite some strong counterarguments, many linguists still continue to use these labels. In my presentation, I present the basic facts along with analyses offered by Gregory Carlson and Angelika Kratzer, followed by some important observations that challenge the distinction.

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