Bridget L. Jankowski (Ph.D. 2013; staff) and Sali A. Tagliamonte (faculty) have a new paper in English World-Wide, 40(2): "Supper or dinner? Sociolinguistic variation in the meals of the day."
The English words for daily meals constitute a complex lexical variable conditioned by social and linguistic factors. Comparative sociolinguistic analysis of 884 speakers from more than a dozen locations in Ontario, Canada reveals a synchronic system with social correlates that are reflexes of the British and American founder populations of the province. Toronto and Loyalist settlements in southern Ontario use the highest rates of dinner while northerners with European and Scots-Irish roots use supper. Dinner is taking over as the dominant form among younger speakers, exposing a cascade pattern (Trudgill 1972; Labov 2007) that is consistent with sociolinguistic typology (Trudgill 2011).