June 29, 2017

More information on Sali's Canada Research Chair

Recently we announced the big news of Sali Tagliamonte (faculty) getting a Canada Research Chair. Here's more information on what she plans to do with this position!

Canada Research Chair in Language Variation and Change
Sali A. Tagliamonte
University of Toronto, Canada

How and why does language change? Canada’s diverse communities offer unique opportunities for understanding variation and change in language. As English becomes a global language, unique local language features are under threat from urbanization and changing economies. By studying language phenomena across Ontario, in communities of various sizes, types and with diverse founders, economies and cultures, this project will gain insights into Canadian dialects. By engaging in comparative analyses with UK dialects back at the root and other varieties around the world, broader generalizations can be made.

Four intersecting theories of linguistic change situate this research program: Labov’s principles of linguistic change (Labov, 1994; 2001; 2010), Labov’s theory of transmission and diffusion of language change (Labov, 2007), Trudgill’s theory of sociolinguistic typology (Trudgill, 2011) and theories of grammatical change (Heine, Claudi & Hünnemeyer, 1991; Hopper & Traugott, 1993; Joseph, 2001; Poplack, 2011). The goal is to synthesize their predictions and offer new interpretations.

On a broad societal level, the results will bring the richness of Canadian dialects into greater public awareness, including unique words and expressions. On a scientific level, the results will reshape our knowledge of linguistic and social impacts on language variation and change, stimulating interdisciplinary research in the social sciences and humanities. A dedicated website (http://ontariodialects.chass.utoronto.ca/) will enable the public to explore the linguistic landscape under study and offer their own observations and experiences for further study.


Heine, Bernd, Claudi, Ulrike & Hünnemeyer, Friederike (1991). Grammaticalization: A conceptual framework. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Hopper, Paul J. & Traugott, Elizabeth Closs (1993). Grammaticalization. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Joseph, Brian (2001). Is there such a thing as grammaticalization? . Language Sciences 23: 163-186.

Labov, William (1994). Principles of linguistic change: Volume 1: Internal factors. Cambridge and Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.

Labov, William (2001). Principles of linguistic change: Volume 2: Social factors. Malden and Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.

Labov, William (2007). Transmission and Diffusion. Language 83: 344-387.

Labov, William (2010). Principles of linguistic change: Volume 3: Cognitive and cultural factors. Malden and Oxford: Wiley Blackwell.

Poplack, Shana (2011). Grammaticalization and linguistic variation. In Heine, B. & Narrog, H. (eds.), Handbook of grammaticalization. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 209-224.

Trudgill, Peter J. (2011). Sociolinguistic typology: Social determinants of linguistic complexity. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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