A peripheral view of a change from above: Prestige forms over time in a medium-sized community
Marissa Brook (University of Toronto)

The use of WH-words such as who as restrictive relativizers likely resulted from a centuries-old change from above (Romaine 1982). In present-day urban varieties of English, who is still associated with well-educated and middle-class speakers (Romaine 1982; Ball 1996, Beal and Corrigan 2002, Tagliamonte et al. 2005, D’Arcy and Tagliamonte 2010). Who is less frequent in “older, peripheral, and conservative varieties” (D’Arcy and Tagliamonte 2010:383-384), where sometimes it never caught on in the first place (Tagliamonte et al. 2005).

The present study compares earlier results from Toronto (D’Arcy and Tagliamonte 2010) with data from the nearby but much smaller town of Belleville (Tagliamonte 2007-2010; Tagliamonte and Denis forthcoming). Of particular interest is whether Belleville’s long history of an emphasis on education (Boyce 2008) has the potential to counteract the lower rates of the WH-forms expected to be found in an outlying dialect.

Apparent-time results for subject relativization show that the oldest speakers have a system distinct from those of their younger counterparts. For the senior citizens alone, who is the most frequent variant and acts as a prestige form, showing effects of education and class. For speakers under 60, that is much more common than who and the social factors have levelled. Object variation shows stability between that and Ø, but the object relativizer who is falling out of use in apparent-time, with no speakers under 30 using it.

These results suggest that who in Belleville once had prestigious connotations, but that these have disappeared. The timing of this change goes hand-in-hand with the general decline of a staunchly British character to Canadian speech and society (Chambers 2004:238-240; Chambers 2010:19). In Belleville, a medium-sized city where British roots are deep (Boyce 2008; Chambers 2010), the onetime prestige of who can no longer count on being enforced by nation-wide British-flavoured norms.


Ball, Catherine N. (1996). A diachronic study of relative markers in spoken and written English. Language Variation and Change, 8, 227-258.

Beal, Joan, and Karen Corrigan (2000). Relatives in Tyneside and Northumbrian English. In Poussa, Patricia (ed.), Relativisation on the North Sea Littoral. Munich: Lincom Europa.

Boyce, Gerry (2008). Belleville: a popular history. Toronto: Dundurn Press.

Chambers, J. K. (2004). ‘Canadian Dainty’: the rise and decline of Briticisms in Canada. In Hickey, Raymond (ed.), Legacies of colonial English: Studies in transported dialects. Cambridge/New York: Cambridge University Press.

Chambers, J. K. (2010). English in Canada. In Gold, Elaine; and McAlpine, Janice (eds.), Canadian English: A Linguistic Reader, 1-37. Published by Strathy Occasional Papers on Canadian English.  Available online: <http://www.queensu.ca/strathy/apps/OP6v2.pdf&gt;

D’Arcy, Alexandra; and Tagliamonte, Sali A. (2010). Prestige, accommodation, and the legacy of relative who. Language in Society, 39, 383-410.

Romaine, Suzanne. (1982). The relative clause marker in Scots English: Diffusion, complexity, and style as dimensions of syntactic change. Language in Society, 9, 221-247.

Tagliamonte, Sali A. (2007-2010). Directions of change in Canadian English. Research grant #410-070-048, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Tagliamonte, Sali A., and Derek Denis (forthcoming). Expanding the transmission/diffusion dichotomy. To appear in Language.

Tagliamonte, Sali A., Jennifer Smith, and Helen Lawrence. (2005). No taming the vernacular! Insights from the relatives in northern Britain. Language Variation and Change, 17, 75-112.


A variationist perspective on epistemic parentheticals in Ontario English
Derek Denis (University of Toronto)

This paper explores the variable realization of the epistemic verbs in first person epistemic parentheticals (EPs)—pragmatic markers that “introduce a complement clause and provide information about the speaker’s degree of commitment to an utterance” (Rodŕıguez Louro & Harris 2013:415) (RLH2013). With the exception of RLH2013, variationists have mostly considered EPs in clause-initial position, as part of a broader investigation of variable complementizer deletion (see references), as in (1-a) and (1-b). However, EPs are syntactically flexible, also appearing clause-finally and clause-medially as in (2).

a. I think that they used to go in the winter as well.
b. I suppose ∅ I hoed likely from the time I was big enough to hoe the hoe.

a. I can recall staying overnight one time too in an hotel I think.
b. I done all those kind of things whichever a young person done I guess on the farm.

The data comprise all 1064 EPs in Corpus of Earlier Spoken Ontario English, a collection of oral histories recorded from 1975–1985 with 38 elderly residents of three Ontario regions (Denis 2012). The findings are two-fold:

  1. I think, the most frequent variant, is stable while I suppose obsolesces in apparent-time and I guess rises in frequency.
  1. Amidst this change, each variant occupies a probabilistic niche with respect to syntactic position and/or the level of commitment of the speaker (Thompson & Mulac 1991:325) (as operationalized by the subject of the complement clause): I suppose is favoured with second person subjects regardless of position, I think with third person subjects and in initial position, and I guess with first person subjects and in non-initial position.

This paper adds to the growing literature on variation and change of pragmatic markers generally and is a first step at understanding the variable usage and trajectory of change of EPs in Ontario English.


Denis, D. (2012). Reaching a Little Further Back: Building a sociolinguistic corpus from oral histories. Paper presented at Changement et Variation au Canada VI, UQÁM/McGill University, Montréal, Québec, June 2 2012.

Rodŕıguez Louro, C. and T. Harris. (2013). Evolution with an attitude: the grammaticalization of epistemic/ evidential verbs in Australian English. English Language and Linguistics 17(3):415–443.

Nagy, N. and H. Blondeau. (2008). Subordinate clause marking in Montreal Anglophone French and English. In Social Lives in Language – Sociolinguistics and multilingual speech communities: Celebrating the work of Gillian Sankoff, M. Meyerhoff and N. Nagy (eds.). John Benjamins:Amsterdam/Philadelphia. pp. 273-313.

Tagliamonte, S. A. and J. Smith. (2005). No momentary fancy! The zero ‘complementizer’ in English dialects. English Language and Linguistics 9(2):289–309.

Thompson, S. A. and A. Mulac. (1991). A quantitative perspective on the grammaticalization of epistemic parentheticals in English. In E. C. Traugott and B. Heine Approaches To Grammaticalization, Vol. 2. John Benjamins: Amsterdam/Philadelphia. pp.313–329.

Torres Cacoullos, R. and J. A. Walker. (2009). On the persistence of grammar in discourse formulas: a variationist study of that. Linguistics 47(1):1–43.


Tracking the emergence of determiners in Old French
Monique Dufresne (Queen’s University), Mireille Tremblay (Université de Montréal), Rose-Marie Dechaine (University of British Columbia)

Old French (OF) allowed argument nominals to occur without determiners.

Criz de dampnez oënt         e     plurs
‘[they] heard the shouts and cries of the damned’    Brendan, l. 1168

Previous studies clearly show that, in OF, the determiner is optional. However, they do not explain exactly how semantic class, syntactic function, number, and definitess condition the realization of bare Ns, nor the relative weight of these factors. Our study based on corpus data from two anglo-norman texts (Saint Brendan (early 12th century) and Marie de France (late 12th century)) aims to fill this gap.

In OF, the null D variant is part of the paradigm, its distribution is structurally-conditioned and its disappearance is slow and progressive. Goldvarb analyses show that, while syntactic function remains a constant factor group, a decrease of bare count nouns and an increase of bare non-count nouns cause the range of semantic class to increase dramatically. Count nouns show distinct patterns for definites and indefinites: while the change appears nearly completed with definites, it is in progress with indefinites, showing a steady decrease of bare indefinites from Brendan to Marie de France. The change is not only quantitative but also qualitative: with the introduction of the plural indefinite determiner des attested in Marie de France, the paradigm of overt determiners is complete and number contrast is now formally encoded in the determiner system. This predicts that the difference between Brendan and Marie de Franceis not limited to indefinites. The change in significance of number amongst definite count nouns provides evidence that number marking on D spread from indefinites to definites. The prohibition of definite determiners with non-count nouns in Marie de France is a consequence of this change, and partially explains the increase in range of the factor group semantic class between the two texts.


Buridant, C. (2000) Grammaire nouvelle de l’ancien français. Paris: SEDES. 800 p.

Boucher, P. (2005). Definite ReferenceinOldandModern French: The Rise andFallofDP, in Montserrat Batllori, Maria-Lluïsa Hernanz, Carme Picallo and Francesc Roca (eds), Grammaticalization and Parametric Variation. New York: OUP, 95-108.

Carlier, A. (2013) Grammaticalization in Progress in Old French: Indefinite Articles, in Deborah L. Arteaga (ed.), Research on Old French: The State of the Art. Dordrecht: Springer.

Carlier, A. (2007) From preposition to article: The grammaticalization of the French partitive, Studies in Language 31, 1-49.

Carlier, A. & Goyens, M. (1998) De l’ancien français au français moderne : régression du degré zéro de la détermination et restructuration du système des articles, Cahiers de l’Institut de Linguistique de Louvain-la-Neuve 24, 3-4, 77-112.

Epstein, R. 1995. L’article défini en ancien français: L’expression de la subjectivité. Langue Française 107, 58–71.

Foulet (1928/1974) Petite syntaxe de l’ancien français. Paris: H. Champion.

Mathieu, E. (2009). From local blocking to cyclic Agree: the role and meaning of determiners in the history of French, dans Jila Ghomeshi et al. (eds.), Determiners: variation and universals (John Benjamins), 123-157.

Moignet, G. (1976) Grammaire de l’ancien français. Paris : Librairie Klincksieck.


That’s not a V, it’s two lines: Deconstructing some curvilinear change
Gerard Van Herk (Memorial University)

In situations of cultural revitalization, researchers sometimes describe a pattern whereby traditional features undergo decline, followed by revival (e.g., Dubois & Horvath 1999). This pattern is sometimes called “V-shaped” or “curvilinear” (Wolfram 2007), implying that a feature is undergoing revitalization, reclaiming, or recycling – “making a comeback”, in the words of Childs & Van Herk (2013).

Here, we use data from two sociolinguistic corpora (total N= 2245) and 5238 usage surveys to suggest that some curvilinear patterns aren’t really curvilinear, but rather reflect the fortunes of two separate variants, in terms of sociolinguistic grammars – usually, the decline of a long-standing, linguistically constrained variant, followed by a period in which the variant is near-moribund, followed in turn by the growth of a socially-driven variant with different, often simpler conditioning. We demonstrate the value of this interpretation by considering whether survey respondents treat variants as distinct and whether linguistic and social conditioning change over apparent time. 

We illustrate with two variables. We reinterpret verbal s-marking in Newfoundland (Childs & Van Herk 2010, Comeau 2011) as a declining traditional habitual marker versus a growing identity-driven lexically constrained variant, and word-final t-frication in Cape Breton (Parris 2009) as a declining traditional variant associated with elderly women and voiceless contexts versus a growing indexer of localness with no gender or voicing constraints. We argue that the bottom of the V is a period that lets younger speakers adopt and re-interpret a traditional form that is present in the community, but not frequent or productive enough for new speakers to fully internalize. In Labovian terms (2007), these forms act like transmitted variables socially (in that they are community-internal), but like diffused variables linguistically (in that their conditioning is not maintained).


Childs, B., & Van Herk, G. 2010. Breaking Old Habits: Syntactic constraints underlying habitual effects in Newfoundland English. In J. A. Walker (ed.), Linguistic Variation and Verbal Aspect, 81-93. Amsterdam: Benjamins.

Childs, B., & Van Herk, G. 2013. Superstars and bit players: Salience and the fate of local dialect features. In Barysevich, A., A. D’Arcy, & D. Heap (eds.), Proceedings of Methods XIV, 139-148. Frankfurt: Peter Lang.

Comeau, P. 2011. Verbal-s in Vernacular Newfoundland English: A Combined Variationist and Formal Account of Grammatical Change. Penn Working Papers in Linguistics, 17(2), article 5.

Dubois, S., & Horvath, B. (1999). “When the music changes, you change too”: Gender and language change in Cajun English. Language Variation and Change 11(3): 287- 313.

Labov, W. 2007. Transmission and diffusion. Language, 83(2), 344-387.

Parris, S. 2009. The reanalysis of a traditional feature in Industrial Cape Breton. Change and Variation in Canada III, Toronto, ON.

Wolfram, W. 2007. Sociolinguistic folklore in the study of African American English. Language and Linguistics Compass, 1(4): 292-313.


Contact in Context : Testing contact and proficiency effects in L2 French past temporal reference
Lindsay Harding (Université du Québec à Montréal) 

Young (1988) suggests that speakers must acquire target-language grammatical structures before progressing towards acquisition of dialectal and stylistic differences, i.e. the development of sociolinguistic competence in interlanguage. However, few studies in the literature to date have thoroughly tested this claim; examining and quantifying the effects of target-language contact and learner proficiency has the potential to facilitate in identifying the point at which language acquisition is overtaken by the development of sociolinguistic competence in L2.

This paper investigates L2 variation in context of French past temporal reference (PTR) productions by native-speakers of English from the Montreal metro area. I extracted French PTR tokens from sociolinguistic interviews with 22 Montreal Anglophones (Blondeau, Nagy, Sankoff, & Thibault, 2002) and nine Montreal Francophones (Thibault & Vincent, 1990), coding for both linguistic factors (subject type, temporal sequence, priming, adverbial temporal marking, temporal remoteness, lexical aspect, and grammatical aspect) and extra-linguistic factors (speaker sex, degree of target-language contact in educational and social contexts for the L2 speakers, and linguistic marketplace scores for the L1 French speakers).

Preliminary results (N.N.S.= 866, N.S.= 351) suggest the L2 speakers overuse French periphrastic past and simple present tense forms at the expense of the imperfective past in obligatory PTR contexts in contrast with their L1 peers. Though even the most advanced L2 speakers continue to overuse present tense morphology in comparison to their Francophone peers in PTR contexts, those with the most contact with French speakers demonstrate more native-like distribution of the French imperfective and periphrastic past. Examining the effects of target-language contact and learner proficiency in the context of the strong predictive claims of the Aspect Hypothesis within SLA research (Andersen, 1991; Andersen & Shirai, 1994; Bardovi-Harlig, 2000), I seek to disentangle the point at which language acquisition is overtaken by the development of sociolinguistic competence in L2, testing the claim of Young and others (Regan, 1996; Young, 1988).


Andersen, R. W. (1991). Developmental sequences: The emergence of aspect marking in second language acquisition. In T. Huebner & C. A. Ferguson (Eds.), Crosscurrents in second language acquisition and linguistic theories (pp. 305-324). Amsterdam: Benjamins.

Andersen, R. W., & Shirai, Y. (1994). Discourse motivations for some cognitive acquisition principles. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 16(2), 133-156.

Bardovi-Harlig, K. (2000). Tense and Aspect in Second Language Acquisition: Form, Meaning, and Use. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers.

Blondeau, H., Nagy, N., Sankoff, G., & Thibault, P. (2002). The Local Coloring of French as a Second Language of Anglophone Montreal Residents. Acquisition et Interaction en Langue Etrangere, 17, 73-100.

Regan, V. (1996). Variation in French Interlanguage: A Longitudinal Study of Sociolinguistic Competence. In D. R. Preston & R. Bayley (Eds.), Second Language Acquisition and Linguistic Variation (pp. 177-201). Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Thibault, P., & Vincent, D. (1990). Un Corpus de Français Parlé: Montréal 84, Historique, Méthodes et Perspectives de Recherche. Québec, QC: Université Laval.

Young, R. (1988). Variation and the interlanguage hypothesis. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 10, 281-302.


Great Aspirations: VOT in bilingual French
Suzanne Robillard (University of Ottawa)

 While it is widely believed that French is becoming anglicized from contact with English, systematic studies of morphosyntactic features (Poplack, 1997; Poplack et al., 2012) have failed to turn up such a result. It is not uncommon, however, to hear English “accents” from francophones in situations of intense contact. Could this then be a case of convergence at the phonetic level? To test this, I identified a feature that is stereotypically associated with interference from English: aspiration of voiceless plosives. Although both languages have a two-way phonemic distinction between voiced and voiceless stops, only English has an additional phonetic category for voiceless aspirated stops. To ascertain the linguistic and extralinguistic conditioning, I analyzed the patterns of variation for aspiration in a subsample of 16 speakers evenly balanced for age, status of French, and level of bilingualism, using the Corpus du français parlè á Ottawa-Hull (Poplack, 1989). Rather than rely only on impressionistic evidence, I measured tokens in Praat (Boersma & Weenink, 2014) using a conventional acoustic technique for VOT and a duration script. Using multivariate analysis (Sankoff et al., 2012), I tested the effects of bilingual proficiency, status of French in the community, place of articulation, and phonological context. Rates of aspiration turned out higher for the proficient (25%) than for less proficient (16%) bilinguals, but the only linguistic factor affecting aspiration for all cohorts was place of articulation. The rates are consistent with contact-induced change, but the usual heuristic – differences in conditioning – does not bear this out. These results align with the frequent observations that bilinguals may have perfect command of the morphosyntax of the other language while having little or no phonetic command of it, which points up the independence of grammatical and phonetic convergence of languages in contact.


Boersma, Paul & Weenink, David (2014). Praat: doing phonetics by computer [Computer program]. Version 5.3.73, retrieved 21 April 2014 from http://www.praat.org/

Poplack, Shana. (1989). The care and handling of a mega-corpus. In Language change and variation, ed. by Fasold, R. & Schiffrin, D., 411-451. Amsterdam: Benjamins.

Poplack, Shana. (1997). The sociolinguistic dynamics of apparent convergence. In Towards a social science of language: Papers in Honor of William Labov, ed. by Guy, G., Baugh, J. & Schiffrin, D., 285-309. Amsterdam: Benjamins.

Poplack, Shana, Zentz, Lauren & Dion, Nathalie. (2012). Phrase-final prepositions in Quebec French: An empirical study of contact, code-switching and resistance to convergence. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition 15(2): 203-225.

Sankoff, David, Sali Tagliamonte & Eric Smith (2012). GoldVarb Lion: a variable rule application for Macintosh and Windows. Department of Mathematics, University of Ottawa, and Department of Linguistics, University of Toronto.


Exploring automated formant analysis for comparative variationist study of Heritage Cantonese and English
Naomi Cui, Minyi Zhu, Vina Law (University of Toronto), Holman Tse (University of Pittsburgh), Naomi Nagy (University of Toronto)

We consider the possibility of Cantonese and English reciprocally influencing vowel space in Toronto’s Heritage Cantonese community by comparing Generation1 and Generation2 speakers in both languages. We predict more English-like patterns in Gen2 Cantonese (vs. Gen1) and more Cantonese-like patterns in Gen1 English (vs. Gen2).

Methodological innovations include automated forced alignment and formant extraction for Cantonese — methods increasingly used for English data but not frequently applied to other languages in sociolinguistics. Extension to additional languages provides testing grounds for sociolinguistic generalizations which have been based primarily on English, French and Spanish. FAVE (Rosenfelder et al. 2011) was used to force-align English transcripts to the corresponding .wav. Cantonese transcripts were force-aligned in ProsodyLab (Gorman et al. 2011), using unsupervised machine learning to train acoustic models, customizable for non-English data (unlike FAVE). FAVE was used to extract and normalize English formant measurements (F1, F2) at each vowel midpoint. A custom Praat script did the same for Cantonese. Data consists of ~40,000 measured vowels for each language: all stressed vowels produced by 10 speakers per language during a 1-hour interview. This paper focuses on ~9,000 tokens of /i/.Preliminary results from mixed-effects modeling:

o   Generation and sex are main effects in Cantonese for both F1 and F2, but only for F2 in English➔As predicted; Gen1 speakers haven’t fully acquired social conditioning in English. Contra predictions, Gen2 sustains Gen1-like social conditioning in Cantonese.

o   As in Homeland Cantonese (Yue-Hashimoto 1972:158), Heritage Cantonese /i/ shows a centralizing effect of following velars; stronger in Gen1 than Gen2➔supports our hypothesis. Neither generation transfers this effect to English.

o   Without any human correction, the automatically extracted and measured data behaves much as expected➔a promising avenue for further investigation.

Comparisons to Toronto Anglo English (Boberg 2008, Roeder & Jarmasz 2010, Roeder 2012) will be reported.


Boberg, Charles. 2008. Regional phonetic differentiation in Standard Canadian English. Journal of English Linguistics 36/2: 129-154.

Gorman, Kyle, Jonathan Howell & Michael Wagner. 2011. Prosodylab-Aligner: A tool for forced alignment of laboratory speech. Proceedings of Acoustics Week in Canada, Québec.

Roeder, Rebecca. 2012. The Canadian Shift in Two Ontario Cities. Special Issue of World Englishes: Autonomy and Homogeneity in Canadian English 31.4:478-492. Guest editors Stefan Dollinger and Sandra Clarke.

Roeder, Rebecca and Lidia-Gabriela Jarmasz. 2010. The Canadian Shift in Toronto. Revue canadienne de linguistique/Canadian Journal of Linguistics 55.3:387-404.

Rosenfelder, Ingrid; Fruehwald, Joe; Evanini, Keelan and Jiahong Yuan. 2011. FAVE (Forced Alignment and Vowel Extraction) Program Suite. http://fave.ling.upenn.edu.

Yue Hashimoto, Oi-kan 1972. Phonology of Cantonese. Cambridge University Press.


Prized Possessions: Variation in Ancient Egyptian Possession
Shayna Gardiner (University of Toronto)

This first variationist study of ancient Egyptian examines variation between two possessive constructions in Middle (c. 2000 BC – 1350 BC) and Late (C. 1350 BC – 700 BC) Egyptian. The first is an older and socially prestigious variant, while the second is an innovative and socially stigmatized variant (Allen, 2010; Gardiner, 1957). The analysis is based on 1239 tokens from the Thesaurus Linguae Aegyptiae corpus, extracted from letters and official texts spanning over a millennium.

Egyptological philologists have claimed that the old variant was used only for official texts while the new variant was used only for vernacular texts (Polis, 2014; Allen, 2013; Junge, 2005), and that Late Egyptian had two distinct registers: one form for official texts that retained its Middle Egyptian features, like the old possessive variant, and one form for vernacular texts that used only Late Egyptian features, including the new possessive variant (Junge, 2005; Kammerzell, 2000). Contrary to these claims, I show that both variants appear throughout official and vernacular texts during the Late Egyptian period, although the new variant is disfavoured in official texts.

An extension of the Egyptological philologists’ position also claims that these two registers are in fact different linguistic entities, and that because of this the rate of change (the rate of the spread of the new variant) in each register is different (Polis, in press; Junge, 2005). To test that claim, I modeled the data from both text types using logistic functions. The measure of the rate of change is the slope of the function; I found that the slopes were the same for both text types, supporting the claim made in linguistics (Kroch, 1989) that language change occurs at the same rate across contexts, while contradicting the Egyptological claims that the rates of change should differ depending on the text type.


Allen, J. P. (2013). The ancient Egyptian language: an historical study. Cambridge University Press.

Allen, J. P. (2010). Middle Egyptian: An Introduction to the Language and Culture of Hieroglyphs (Second ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Gardiner, A. H. (1957). Egyptian Grammar (3rd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Junge, F. (2005). Late Egyptian grammar. Oxford: Griffith Institute.

Kammerzell, F. (2000). Egyptian possessive constructions: a diachronic typological approach. Sprachtypologie und Universalien Forschung (STUF), Berlin 53 (2000) 1, 97-108.

Kroch, A. S. (1989). Reflexes of grammar in patterns of language change. Journal of Language Variation and Change, 1(3), 199–244.

Polis, S. (in press). Linguistic variation in Ancient Egyptian: Genres and registers in the scribal repetoire of Amenakhte son of Ipuy during the 20th dynasty. In Cromwell, Jennifer; Grossman, Eitan (Eds.) Beyond Free Variation: Scribal Repertoires from Old Kingdom to Early Islamic Egypt. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Double Trouble: The case of subject doubling in Ottawa-Hull French
Nahed Mourad (University of Ottawa)

Variable subject doubling (SD) in Canadian French, as exemplified in (1) and (2), has been studied from the perspective of its forms, functions and frequency of use.

(1) “Le monsieur il venait de porter des-des blocs de glace.” (OH.94.674)

(2) “Mais mon-mon oncle 0 était un capitaine de bateau.” (OH.94.519)

Blondeau, Nagy & Auger (2003), and especially Nadasdi (1995) have claimed that lower rates of SD were consistent with higher rates of bilingualism, and with contact with English, a language which supposedly does not feature this construction. But as these studies focus on the younger generations only, change cannot be confirmed. Nor has language status been assessed directly. In this study, I examine the effects of these different measures of bilingualism, free from the confounds of other social factors by making use of an optimally balanced subsample consisting of 16 speakers evenly stratified for age, bilingual proficiency and official language status in the Corpus du français parlé à Ottawa-Hull (Poplack, 1989).

I extracted all the tokens of third-person doubled subjects as well as non-doubled subjects in a representative portion of each interview. Each token was coded for all the linguistic factors previously considered in the literature (e.g. verb type, specificity, subject type, definiteness, animacy and clause type) as well as the abovementioned extralinguistic factors. These were analyzed together using Goldvarb X (Sankoff et al., 2005).

Results generally confirmed the linguistic patterning found elsewhere in terms of both direction and magnitude of effect. But crucially, the extralinguistic effects differed. There is some evidence of change in apparent time, with younger speakers favoring SD, but it cannot be straightforwardly related to contact, since the results for language status and individual bilingual proficiency contrast. Such results would have been obscured by the interdependence of these factors characteristic of most samples.


Blondeau, H., Nagy, N., Auger, J. (2003). Second language acquisition and “real” French: an investigation of subject doubling in Montreal Anglophones. Language, Variation and Change, 15.

Nadasdi, T. (1995). Subject NP doubling, matching and minority French. Language, Variation and Change, 7, 1-14.

Poplack, S. (1989). The Corpus du français parlé à Ottawa-Hull. The care and handling of a mega-corpus. In Fasold, R. & Shiffrin, D. (eds.). Language Change and Variation. Amsterdam: Benjamins. 411-451.

Sankoff, D., Tagliamonte, S. & Smith, E. (2005). Goldvarb X. Department of Linguistics, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada. http://individual.utoronto.ca/tagliamonte/Goldvarb/GV_index.htm


Is Quebec French endangered?
Using variation theory to assess the qualité of a “threatened” language
Shana Poplack, Allison Lealess, Nathalie Dion (University of Ottawa)

Quebec French (QF) does not correspond to most characterizations of endangered, yet many francophones view it as such, largely due to the perceived decline in its linguistic “quality”. Indeed, the many nonstandard features of QF, the conviction that they are absent from European French, together with the legacy of minority status and linguistic insecurity, conspire in the received wisdom that QF has changed. Yet there has been little empirical support for this scenario.

Drawing on a unique corpus of “Standard French” on the one hand, and massive synchronic and diachronic corpora of spontaneous speech on the other, we carried out large-scale quantitative analyses to assess the distance between the two and arrive at an objective characterization of quality. The linguistic focus is on expression of the subjunctive, whose dedicated morphology is selected variably in QF, and not to express the meanings generally attributed to it.

Comparison of the evolution and contemporary distribution of subjunctive and indicative in spoken QF with the development of prescriptive norms for variant choice over five centuries shows that the variability characterizing contemporary speech was already in place at the inception of the grammatical tradition. The subjunctive has been prescribed with hundreds of lexical governors, verb classes and semantic readings, but there is little consistency across time periods, grammars, or even within the same grammar. Systematic analysis of actual usage facts, however, shows the variable grammar of subjunctive selection to be both remarkably structured and stable over time. Its discrepancies with respect to both normative and theoretical linguistic accounts stem not from change, but from the latter’s attempts to impose the doctrine of form-function symmetry on a phenomenon which is inherently variable. A perspective that recognizes inherent variability reveals the endangerment of the quality of QF to reside more in ideology than in fact.


Deletion of dental fricatives in vernacular Icelandic: A useful dependent variable?
Gudlaugur Havardarson (Université du Québec à Montréal)

Icelandic is largely undefined when it comes to language variation and change, and sociolinguistics is an underdeveloped field in Iceland (Friðriksson, 2008, pp. 110-111; Hovdhaugen, 2000, pp. 531-532). It has nevertheless been noted in descriptive literature that the two dental fricatives in Icelandic, [ð] and [θ], are sensitive to style, with a tendency towards deletion as the speaking-style becomes more relaxed (Árnason, 2011), hinting at a possible phonological variable. This dependent variation has yet to be confirmed empirically in a sociolinguistic study.

This paper, working within the variationist framework, aims to determine the validity of using dental fricative deletion as a dependent variable in future sociolinguistic studies of Icelandic. Individual sociolinguistic interviews with a formal language questionnaire and an informal discussion were conducted with 24 male and female (18-74 years old) inhabitants of Reykjavík as well as with a control group (n = 9, 21-67 years old) of rural habitants of Iceland. 1440 tokens were extracted from the Reykjavík corpus, with additional 960 tokens from the male informants of the city. Deletion or presence of the dependent variable in the speech production of the informants was confirmed in Praat using hand-marking.

Preliminary results from the male informants in Reykjavík validate the use of dental fricative deletion as a dependent factor in sociolinguistic studies of Icelandic. The corpus shows robust effects of age with younger males deleting more, as well as geographical variation within the city with the city deleting more than the suburbs. The preliminary results also show a week but still significant relation between speech style and deletion, with an increase in the standard pronunciation in a more formal context.


Árnason, K. (2011). The Phonology of Icelandic and Faroese. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press.

Friðriksson, F. (2008). Language change vs. stability in conservative language communities. A case study of Icelandic. (Doctor of Philosophy), Göteborgs universitet // University of  Gothenburg, Gothenburg.

Hovdhaugen, E., Fred Karlsson, Carol Henriksen & Bengt Sigurd. (2000). The history of linguistics in the Nordic countries. Helsinki: Societas Scientiarum Fennica.


Glide Realizations in Canadian Mainstream Vernacular English
Sonia Pritchard (University of Ottawa)

The behaviour of yod in the context of preceding coronal consonants (/t d n s z θ l/) in Canadian English has long attracted the attention of variationists. There is widespread agreement (Avis, 1956; Scargill, 1974; Owens & Baker, 1984; Chambers, 1998; Woods, 1979, Clarke, 1993) that yod is decreasing, with some claiming that it represents a significant change in progress (Chambers, 2004:233). These results are not entirely convincing, however: only Clarke (1993) relies on spontaneous speech; most studies are restricted to a few lexical items but generalize their findings to the whole grammar; and finally, yod realization has almost exclusively been investigated with respect to social constraints.

This paper attempts to remedy these shortcomings by conducting a multivariate analysis of both social and linguistic conditioning of yod realization. All relevant tokens (N=636) were extracted from 15 speakers from the Oshawa-Whitby component of the Quebec English Corpus (Poplack et al., 2006). In contrast to previous studies, variants (/duriŋ/, /djuriŋ/, /ʤuriŋ) were identified through acoustic analysis in Praat (Boersma & Weenink, 2012) and analyzed with Goldvarb (Sankoff et al., 2005). Results reveal that the most significant factor is not social, but phonological. Yod is most likely to be retained when following an /n/ (probability .79) and least likely to occur after /d/ (probability .07). In terms of social factors, not age but sex significantly influences variant choice. While females retain yod a good deal more (probability .72) than males (.26), there is no evidence of ongoing change. I relate the differences in conditioning of yod retention in these supposedly homogenous varieties of Canadian English to cross-study discrepancies in data type, extraction, coding and methods of analysis.


Avis, Walter S. (1956). Speech differences along the Ontario-United States border, III: Pronunciation. Journal of the Canadian Linguistic Association, 2, 41-59.

Boersma, Paul & Weenink, David (2014). Praat: doing phonetics by computer [Computerprogram]. Version 5.3.04, http://www.praat.org/

Chambers, J.K. (1998a). Social embedding of changes in progress. Journal of English Linguistics, 26(3), 3-35.

Chambers, J. K. (2004b). Canadian dainty: the rise and decline of Briticisms in Canada. In Legacies of colonial English: Studies in transported dialects, (Ed.), Raymond Hickey, 224-241. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge.

Clarke, S. (1993). The americanization of Canadian pronunciation: a survey of palatal glide usage. In Focus on Canada, ed. Sandra Clarke, 85-108. John Benjamins: Philadelphia, USA.

Owens, T. W. & Baker, P. M. (1984). Linguistic insecurity in Winnipeg: Validation of a Canadian index of linguistic insecurity. Language in Society 13, 337-350.

Poplack, S., Walker, J. & Malcolmson, R. (2006a). An English ‘like no other’?: Language Contact and Change in Quebec. Canadian Journal of Linguistics, 51(2), 185-213.

Sankoff, David, Sali Tagliamonte, and Eric Smith. (2005). GoldVarb X: a variable rule application for Macintosh and Windows. <http://individual.utoronto.ca/tagliamonte/Goldvarb/GV_index.htm&gt;

Scargill, M.H. (1974). Modern Canadian English Usage: Linguistic Change and Reconstruction. McClelland and Stewart: Toronto, Canada.

Woods, H. B. (1999). The Ottawa Survey of Canadian English. Strathy Language Unit Occasional Papers, No.4. Queen’s University: Kingston, Ontario.



La variation sociolinguistique dans la production de liaisons facultatives de francophones européens, canadiens et africains
Nadine de Moras (Brescia University College)

Les liaisons facultatives constituent chez les francophones un marqueur sociolinguistique. Leur réalisation dépend notamment de l’âge, du sexe, du milieu socioculturel, du niveau d’éducation du locuteur et du registre de langue (Ågren, 1973 ; Malécot, 1975 ; Encrevé, 1988 ; Gadet, 1989 ; Ashby, 1981, 2003).

Si les facteurs sociolinguistiques permettent d’expliquer certains phénomènes, et certaines tendances générales (Mallet, 2008), ils ne peuvent guère expliquer pourquoi à l’intérieur d’une même structure phonétique et syntaxique, il y a tant de variation quant à la production de liaisons facultatives et même obligatoires selon les locuteurs.

Comment peut-on alors expliquer les classifications de liaisons, leurs productions et la variation à l’intérieur d’une même structure syntaxique et à l’intérieur d’un même registre de langue ?

Une théorie susceptible d’apporter des réponses à ces questions est la théorie de la fréquence, (Ellis, 2002; Tomasello, 2003) aussi appelée Théorie Basée sur l’Usage ou Modèle Basé sur l’Usage.

Pour tester les effets de la fréquence dans la production (et donc l’acquisition) de liaisons, nous avons créé un texte contenant 51 liaisons obligatoires et 17 liaisons facultatives qu’ont lu 12 francophones majoritaires (de France, Belgique, Canada) et 8 francophones minoritaires (4 Franco-ontariens et 4 francophones du Sénégal, Burundi, Congo, et Mali) ayant eu un contact différent avec le français.

Les productions des sujets ont été corrélées aux réponses présentes dans les questionnaires, à la fréquence du mot1, du mot2 et à la fréquence de co-occurrence des mots, en utilisant la banque de données de fréquence Lexique 3 et le logiciel Goldvarb (Sankoff, Tagliamonte & Smith, 2005).

Dans notre étude, les facteurs sociolinguistiques traditionnels (âge, sexe, etc.), ne jouent pas de rôle statistiquement significatif, tandis que les différents types de fréquences ainsi que l’input reçu jouent un rôle majeur dans la variation et dans la production de liaisons.


Ågren, J. (1973). Étude sur quelques liaisons facultatives dans le français de conversation radiophonique: fréquences et facteurs. Uppsala: Uppsala University Press.

Ashby, W. J. (1981). French liaison as a sociolinguistic phenomenon. W. Cressey and D.J. Napoli (Eds.), Linguistic Symposium on Romance Languages: 9. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, pp. 46-57.

Ashby, W. J. (2003). La liaison variable en français parlé tourangeau : une analyse en temps réel Colloque AFLS Tours : 25-27 septembre 2003.

Ellis, N. C. (2002). Frequency effects in language acquisition: A review with implications for theories of implicit and explicit language acquisition. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 24, 143-188.

Encrevé, P. (1988). La liaison avec et sans enchaînement. Phonologie tridimensionnelle et usages du français. Paris: Seuil.

Gadet, F. (1989). Le français ordinaire. Paris: Colin.

Malécot, A. (1975). French Liaison as a Function of Grammatical, Phonetic and Paralinguistic Variables. Phonetica, 32, 161-179.

Mallet, G.-M. (2008). La liaison en français : descriptions et analyses dans le corpus PFC. Thèse de doctorat. Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense. École Doctorale 139 : Connaissance, Langage, Modalisation. Laboratoire. pp. 328

Sankoff, D., S. Tagliamonte, E. Smith. (2005). Goldvarb X: A variable rule application for Macintosh and Windows. Department of Linguistics, University of Toronto.

Tomasello, M. (2003). Constructing a Language: a Usage-Based Theory of Language Acquisition. Harvard University Press.


‘What have we been do-een? (ING) is not binary.’
Nicole Rosen (University of Manitoba), Jillian Ankutowicz (University of Lethbridge), Alexandra D’Arcy (University of Victoria) 

(ING) is central to variationist sociolinguistics, having proved a foundational heuristic for a number of key empirical and theoretical issues in the field (e.g. Labov 1989; Schleef et al 2011). Within this literature, (ING) is treated as binary, alternating alveolar [ɪn] (associated with men, working class, informality), and velar [ɪŋ] (associated with women, higher socioeconomic status, careful speech) (Labov 1966; Trudgill 1974; Houston 1985). However, reports of a third variant, an alveolar nasal and tense vowel, [in], also appear (Woods 1990; Chambers 2009). Given the relatively high frequency of [in] (Gregg 1992), its backgrounding to date is surprising. Indeed, we assume that this variant occurs elsewhere as well, but is subsumed under the alveolar variant in previous treatments of (ING). This paper considers the distribution and patterning of (ING) as a ternary variable. We ask: What does (ING) look like when competition between standard [ɪŋ] and non-standard [ɪn] is offset by the presence of a third variant? Which conclusions hold, and which require re-assessment in light of new evidence?

The data come from a corpus of Southern Alberta speech, collected 2010-2012. These materials include 71 speakers aged 18-84 from a range of location types (urban, rural, semi-urban); a total of 3061 (ING) tokens are considered.

Multivariate analyses reveal that [in] and [ɪn] pattern socially in complementarity: [ɪn] is favoured by rural, non-professional males; [in] is favoured by older professional females. Linguistic conditioning provides particularly insightful evidence concerning the status of (ING): a preceding velar consonant favours [ɪn], while an alveolar consonant favours [in]. Moreover, [ɪn] exhibits a highly restricted collocational pattern, essentially limited to disyllabic roots, while [in] occurs across the board. This very distinct patterning is a strong indicator that we must reexamine (ING) as a ternary variable. Finally, urban setting is an important criterion. Among urban speakers, sex, age and socioeconomic status are significant, confirming previous studies. However, only sex emerges as significant among rural speakers, leading us to hypothesize that social differentiation is less critical within the rural population in Southern Alberta.

The sum of these results lead us to argue that (ING) is not binary and is more complex than previously assumed, and that even for stable variables, socio-demographic factors of locality are salient determinants of sociolinguistic practice.


Chambers, J. K. 2009. Sociolinguistic Theory: Linguistic Variation and its Social Significance.

Gregg, Robert J. 1992. The Survey of Vancouver English. American Speech, Vol 67: 3. pp 250-267.

Houston, Ann. C. 1985. Continuity and Change in English Morphology: The variable (ing). University of Pennsylvania. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/303373625?accountid=12063.

Labov, W. 1989. The child as linguistic historian. Language Variation and Change 1(1): 85-97.

Labov, W. 1966. The social stratification of English in New York City. Washington, DC: Center for Applied Linguistics.

Woods, H. B. 1990. A Socio-Dialectal Survey of the English Spoken in Ottawa: a Study of Sociolinguistic and Stylistic Variation. Ottawa: University of Ottawa dissertation.

Schleef, Erik, Miriam Meyerhoff and Lynn Clark. 2011. Teenagers’ acquisition of variation. English World-Wide 32:2, 206–236. John Benjamins Publishing Company

Tagliamonte, S. 2006. Analysing sociolinguistic variation. Cambridge University Press.

Trudgill, P. 1974. Linguistic change and diffusion: Description and explanation in sociolinguistic dialect geography. Language in Society, 3(2), 215-246.


Emigrants, Isolation, Urban Influx – Variable (ing) in Haliburton, Ontario
Martin Sneath (University of Toronto)

Variable ing has been studied since 1958 (Fischer). Researchers have concluded that the variable is stable although there are correlations with variant usage that may suggest age grading (Abramowicz, 2007, p. 30, Tagliamonte, 2012, p. 187, Hazen 2008, p. 122, 2006, p. 583, Houston 1985, p. 25). 

This variable is pronounced three different ways as can be seen from these examples.

a. I was thinking(1) I was thinkin'(2) it had somethin'(2) to do (HAL/V)

b. we were away for traineen(3) um safety training(1) (HAL/U)

This study is based on 1723 tokens from 12 speakers. The data was collected in Haliburton, Ontario in 2011 as part of the Ontario Dialects Project (Tagliamonte, 2010-2013).

Multivariate regression analyses were performed using Goldvarb (Sankoff, Tagliamonte & Smith, 2005). The tokens were coded for age, gender, number of syllables, part of speech, preceding and following phonemes. 

Methodological opportunities concerning coding for number of syllables and previous phonemes will be discussed as well as possibilities of patterns based on lexical properties. Coding of phoneme properties in a manner which is compatible with Goldvarb will also be addressed.

The data was analyzed with and without indefinite pronouns and partitioned by part of speech. It was expected to show patterns similar to those reported in the literature of the past 55 years and in internal factors those expectations were met.

Interestingly the external factors of age and gender proved to be the most significant factors affecting variation. The use of the tense variant (-een or -ing) by young women up to 30 was 88 % as compared to 25 % for males over 60. Urban patterns of variation were documented including the introduction of the third variant -een common to urban areas of Canada but not recorded in most international studies.


Abramowicz, Lukasz. (2007). Sociolinguistics Meets Exemplar Theory: Frequency and Recency Effects in (ing). University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics 13(2):27-37.

Fischer, John. (1958). Social influence of a linguistic variant. Word 14:47–56.

Hazen, Kirk. 2006. ‘IN/ING Variable’. In Keith Brown (ed.) Encyclopaedia of Language and Linguistics, Vol. 5. Oxford, U.K.: Elsevier. 581–584.

Hazen, Kirk. 2008. (ING): A vernacular baseline for Appalachia. American Speech 83: 116–140. 

Houston, Ann. 1985. Continuity and Change in English Morphology: the Variable (ing). Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pennsylvania.

Sankoff, David, Tagliamonte, Sali A. & Smith, Eric (2005). Goldvarb X. Department of Linguistics, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada. http://individual.utoronto.ca/tagliamonte/Goldvarb/GV_index.htm.

Tagliamonte, Sali A. (2010-2013). Transmission and diffusion in Canadian English. Standard   Research Grant #410-101-129. Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. (SSHRCC)

Tagliamonte, S. (2012). Variationist sociolinguistics : change, observation, interpretation. Malden, Ma: Wiley-Blackwell.


A Phonological Variable in a Textual Medium: (ing) in Online Chat
Aaron Dinkin (University of Toronto)

 This study examines the (ing) variable in a corpus of online text chat (“IM”) between first-year University of Toronto undergraduates and their peers (54 participants total). The behavior of (ing) in a text-based platform is of interest inasmuch as (ing) is fundamentally a phonological variable, but it has a conventional orthographic representation (as in workin or workin’ vs. working). It is an open question to what extent the orthographic variation reflects the same underlying process as the phonological variation; other variationist studies of IM (Tagliamonte & Denis 2008; Squires 2012) have focused on lexical, morphosyntactic, or purely orthographic variables.

The overall rate of use of the -in variant is extremely low: out of 634 tokens of (ing), only 21 (3%) used -in. Despite this, -in is attested in multiple grammatical contexts: progressive (how you doin), gerund (for the sake of solvin), monomorpheme (evenin), and somethin. Due to small token counts in some categories, it is not possible to statistically compare all these environments individually; but -in is significantly favored for progressives relative to other categories, conforming to the usual pattern for spoken (ing). 

The rate of -in is very low, compared both to other nonstandard orthographic variants in this corpus (26% of tokens of you are spelled u) and to the expected rate of -in in speech (Wagner 2012 finds rates above 30% for demographically comparable speakers). This is consonant with Tagliamonte & Denis (2008)’s finding that standard variants of several variables appear at a higher rate in IM than in speech. The extreme infrequency of -in suggests that, even if a phonological variable such as (ing) is available in IM through its orthographic representation, IM users are less likely to express sociolinguistic style through it than through orthographic variables that are more native to online communication, such as u/you. 


Squires, Lauren (2012). “Whos punctuating what? Sociolinguistic variation in instant messaging”. In Alexandra Jaffe, Jannis Androutsopoulos, Mark Sebba, & Sally Johnson (eds.), Orthography as Social Action: Scripts, Spelling, Identity and Power, 289–324. Mouton de Gruyter, Berlin.

Tagliamonte, Sali & Derek Denis (2008). “Linguistic ruin? LOL! Instant messaging and teen language”. American Speech 83.1:3–34.

Wagner, Suzanne Evans (2012). “Real-time evidence for age grad(ing) in late adolescence”. Language Variation and Change 24:179–202.


Sociophonetic Variation in Northern Ontario Vowels: A First Look
Jim Smith (University of Toronto) 

This paper reports preliminary results of an ongoing project investigating regional and social variation in Canadian English vowel production in northern Ontario. Canadian English vowel variation is well studied in several urban communities; however, virtually nothing is known of vowel production in rural Ontario. This paper analyzes the speech of 7 speakers from Kirkland Lake, Ontario, a small mining town 585 km north of Toronto. It explores the participation of Kirkland Lake speakers in two salient changes in progress in Canadian English: the Canadian Shift (CS – Clarke, Elms & Youssef 1995), involving the lowering and retraction of front lax vowels in the KIT, DRESS, and TRAP lexical sets, and fronting of the /uw/ vowel in the GOOSE lexical set (Labov, Ash & Boberg 2006). The study has the following goals:

  • Probe competing claims about the progress of these changes in light of observed regional differences (e.g., Sadlier-Brown & Tamminga 2008; Roeder 2012)
  • Evaluate evidence that CS and /uw/-fronting are structurally related (Boberg 2011) 

12,908 tokens(1) of 11 vowels in primary stress position were extracted from 9 hours of sociolinguistic interviews. For CS vowels, normalized F1 and F2 values fall within thresholds defined by Labov et al., indicating full participation by Kirkland Lake speakers. However, these Kirkland Lake speakers also appear to lag behind the rest of Canada in /uw/-fronting, exhibiting mean F2 of 1354 Hz, well below the 1720 Hz mean of Boberg (2010). Though differences by age and sex suggest that /uw/-fronting is progressing in apparent time, these results are incompatible with the view that /uw/ fronting is structurally tied to CS. The longterm results of this study will add to previous accounts of regional variation in Canadian English and contribute to our understanding of transmission and diffusion of phonological change in Canadian English. 

(1)The data for this study were extracted from the Transmission and Diffusion in Canadian English project corpus, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (Tagliamonte 2010-2014; Tagliamonte 2014)


Boberg, Charles. 2005. The Canadian Shift in Montreal. Language Variation and Change 17:133– 154.

Boberg, Charles. 2008. Regional Phonetic Differentiation in Standard Canadian English. Journal of English Linguistics, 36(2): 129-154. 

Boberg, Charles. 2010. The English Language in Canada: Status, History and Comparative Analysis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Boberg, Charles. 2011. Reshaping the Vowel System: An Index of Phonetic Innovation in Canadian English. University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics 17(2): 21-29.

Clarke, Sandra, Ford Elms, and Amani Youssef. 1995. The Third Dialect of English: Some Canadian evidence. Language Variation and Change 7:209-228.

Hagiwara, Robert. 2006. Vowel Production in Winnipeg. Canadian Journal of Linguistics 51:127-41. Hoffman, Michol. 2010. The role of social factors in the Canadian Vowel Shift: Evidence from Toronto. American Speech, 85(2): 121-140.

Labov, William, Sharon Ash, and Charles Boberg. 2006.Atlas of North American English: Phonetics, Phonology and Sound Change. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Roeder, Rebecca. 2012. The Canadian Shift in Two Ontario Cities. Special Issue of World Englishes: Autonomy and Homogeneity in Canadian English. Guest editors Stefan Dollinger and Sandra Clarke. World Englishes, 31(4): 478-492.

Roeder, Rebecca and Lidia-Gabriela Jarmasz. 2009. The lax vowel subsystem in Canadian English revisited. Toronto Working Papers in Linguistics 31.

Roeder, Rebecca and Lidia-Gabriela Jarmasz. 2010. The Canadian Shift in Toronto. Canadian Journal of Linguistics/Revue canadienne de linguistique 55(3): 387-404.

Roeder, Rebecca and Matt Hunt Gardner. 2013. The Phonology of the Canadian Shift Revisited: Thunder Bay and Cape Breton. University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics 19(2): 161-170.

Sadlier-Brown, E. and M. Tamminga. 2008. The Canadian Shift: Coast to coast. In Proceedings of the 2008 Annual Conference of the Canadian Linguistic Association: 1-14).

Tagliamonte, Sali, A. (2010-2013). Transmission and diffusion in Canadian English. Research Grant, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. (SSHRCC). #410-101- 129.

Tagliamonte, Sali A. (2014). System and society in the evolution of change: The view from Canada. In Green, E. & Meyer, C. (Eds.), Variability in Current World Englishes. Berlin and New York: Mouton de Gruyter.


L’usage du subjonctif en français acadien : Le cas du Nord-Est duNouveau-Brunswick
Basile Roussel (University Ottawa)

À ce jour, plusieurs recherches (Arrighi, 2005 ; Comeau, 2011 ; King, 2013) suggèrent que le français acadien (FA) parlé dans les Maritimes affiche un comportement linguistique plus conservateur que celui parlé ailleurs au Canada. À titre d’exemple, Comeau (2011), de par sa recherche à la Baie Sainte-Marie en Nouvelle-Écosse, rapporte que l’usage du mode subjonctif est catégorique avec certains verbes matrices. Il interprète ceci comme un exemple de cet aspect conservateur, notamment en comparaison avec le français québécois (FQ) (Auger, 1990 ; Poplack, 1990 ; Poplack et al., 2013) qui lui affiche une grande variabilité modale. En effet, il n’est pas rare qu’un même verbe gouverne trois modes différents, soit le subjonctif, l’indicatif et le conditionnel. Plusieurs questions s’imposent de cette situation : est-ce que ces résultats valent pour d’autres variétés du FA et si oui, serait-ce le FA qui a changé ou le FQ?

Dans cette communication, je m’attaque à ces questions par le biais d’une étude variationniste représentée par le corpus de Français acadien du Nord-Est du Nouveau- Brunswick-adultes (Beaulieu, 1995). J’ai extrait et codé presque 800 contextes où le subjonctif aurait pu être choisi selon plusieurs facteurs sémantiques et morphologiques qui se sont déjà avéré significatifs dans les études mentionnées ci-dessus. Les résultats démontrent d’abord un taux global du subjonctif de 39% qui est bien loin d’être catégorique, et aussi que son choix est conditionné par des facteurs lexicaux. Ce résultat est parfaitement parallèle non seulement avec le français québécois (Poplack, 1990 ; Poplack et al., 2013) mais aussi avec la variété dite source, c’est-à-dire celle parlée en France (Kastronic, en préparation). Ces résultats nous permettent de remettre en question la nature conservatrice qu’on a longtemps attribué au FA et la valeur du subjonctif comme étant un indicateur de cet aspect conservateur. 


ARRIGHI, L. (2006). Étude morphosyntaxique du français parlé en Acadie. Une approche de la variation et du changement linguistique en français Tome I. Thèse de doctorat. Université d’Avignon.

AUGER, J. (1990). Les structures impersonnelles et l’alternance des modes en subordonnée   dans le français parlé de Québec, Québec, Centre international de recherche en aménagement linguistique.

BEAULIEU, L. (1995). The social function of linguistic variation: A sociolinguistic study in a fishing community of the north-eastern coast of New Brunswick. PhD Dissertation.   University of South Carolina.

COMEAU, P. (2011). A window on the past, a move toward the future: sociolinguistic and formal perspectives on variation in Acadian French. PhD Dissertation. York University.

KASTRONIC, L. (in prep). A Variationist approach to morphosyntactic variability in Hexagonal French. PhD Dissertation. University of Ottawa. 

KING, R. (2013). Acadian French in Time and Space. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press.

POPLACK, S. (1990). Prescription, intuition et usage: le subjonctif français et la variabilité inhérente. Langage et société, 54: 5-33.

POPLACK, S., A. LEALESS & N. DION. (2013). The evolving grammar of the subjunctive.   Probus, 25(1) (Special 25th anniversary issue): 139-195.



Investigating ‘opposing’ trends the Quebec French mid vowels
Jeffrey Lamontagne (University of Ottawa)

The loi de position (hereafter “LdP”) is a proposed tendency to realise final-syllable French mid vowels as mid-high in open syllables ( /frãsɛ/ ‘French’ as [frãse]) and as mid-low when in closed ones (/kot border a kɔt]) (Walker, 1984). I examine this claim in Quebec French, cited for an opposite alternation whereby final-syllable [ɛ] are lowered to [æ] rather than raised to [e] (Morin, 1988). The processes have seen little empirical analysis and haven’t been examined together, which is necessary to ascertain if both reflect the same conspiratorial tendencies. Furthermore, Quebec French offers the opportunity to determine whether final syllables or stress act as triggers, since non-final weight optionally attracts stress (Armstrong, 1999).

To solve these problems, I extracted all tokens of final-syllable /e/ and /ɛ/ from twenty- three speakers in the Phonologie du français contemporain corpus (Côté, 2012; Durand et al., 2002, 2009). I measured their formants and stress correlates (pitch, intensity) and coded for surrounding segments and syllable structure. The resulting 7000 tokens were analysed using GoldVarb (Sankoff, Tagliamonte and Smith, 2005).

My results showed younger speakers most favour raising in open syllables, but favour lowering about equally. Pitch contour only achieved significance for younger speakers and intensity gains significance in apparent time. Finally, the two processes appear to be converging towards a single constraint hierarchy (with different factor values favouring each process), potentially indicating a phonological conspiracy developing.

This study suggests the LdP is gaining influence in Quebec French. However, the significance of stress correlates has greater implications in supporting claims of weight-sensitive stress patterns developing in Quebec French (Armstrong, 1999) and of distinctions between intonational and lexical stress (Thibault and Ouellet, 1996). The results also suggest that the LdP may describe a phonological conspiracy – rather than a purely directional trend – triggered by stress rather than final syllables.


Armstrong, Susan Dawn. 1999. Stress and Weight in Québec French. Master thesis, University of Calgary: Calgary, Canada.

Côté, M.-H.2012. “Le projet PFC et la géophonologie du français laurentien”. Presented at the Les Français d’Ici colloquium 2012, Sherbrooke.

Durand, J., B. Laks & C. Lyche 2002. “La phonologie du français contemporail : usages, variétés et struture”. In C. Pusch & W. Raible, réd. Romanistische Korpuslinguistik-Korpora und  gesprochene Sprache/Romance Corpus Linguistics – Corpora and Spoken Language. Tübingen: Gunter Narr Verlag, 93-106.

Durand, J., B. Laks & C. Lyche 2009. “Le projet PFC: une source de données primaires structures ”. I J. Durand, B. Laks & C. Lyche, réd. Phonologie, variation et accents du français. Paris : Hermès, 19-61.

Morin, Yves-Charles. 1988. “La loi de po itio ?”. Revue québécoise de linguistique 17 (1): 237-242.

Sankoff, David, Sali Tagliamonte, & Eric Smith. 2005. Goldvarb X: A variable rule application for Macintosh and Windows. Department of Linguistics, University of Toronto.

Thibault, Linda and Marise Ouellet. 1996. “Tonal distinctions between emphatic stress and pretonic lengthening in Quebec French”. Proceedings of the 4th ICSLP, vol. 2: 638-641.

Walker, Douglas C. 1984. The Pronunciation of Laurentian French. Ottawa, Canada : University of Ottawa Press.


Questioning the quantitative harmonic alignment in variationist dative alternation studies
Candice Toth (University of Ottawa)

Variability in dative expression between double object (1a) and prepositional (1b) constructions has attracted attention from syntacticians and variationists alike.

1a. He would give me ten cents. (QEC.OW.310.259)1

1b. One of them would leave, and just give the bed to me. (QEC.OW.303.916)

While the former (Rappaport-Hovav & Levin, 2008) maintain that variants hold different meanings, the latter relate variability to properties of the theme and recipient, said to operate in a harmonic alignment (HA), a pattern where conceptually and linguistically simpler elements precede those that are longer or more complex. (Bresnan & Ford, 2010; Bresnan et al., 2007; Tagliamonte, to appear).

In this study I replicate the HA predictions on the Oshawa-Whitby component of the Quebec English Corpus (Poplack et al., 2006), through quantitative analysis of 10 verbs whose objects have been reported to admit variation, coded for the linguistic factors examined in the relevant literature. My results show general support for HA, at least for factors selected as significant by multivariate analysis: definite and pronominal themes favour prepositional variants, as do definite recipients, as predicted. But other components of HA, especially those relating to the recipient, did not achieve statistical significance. Close examination of the previous literature shows similar results: not only the significant factors, but also their relative contributions differ across studies, (e.g. Bresnan et al., 2007; Bresnan & Ford, 2010; Tagliamonte, to appear). Even the expectation that closely related varieties of Canadian English, (e.g. Tagliamonte, to appear, and this study), would show the same behaviour was not borne out, causing us to question the universality of HA in explaining dative alternation, and leaving doubt as to the hierarchy of factor effects when several are in competition.

Through systematic comparison of the data, coding schemes and other research methods in the literature, I will discuss possible sources of discrepancies in HA patterns.


Bresnan, J. et al. (2007). Predicting the dative alternation. In Gerlof Bouma, Irene Krämer & Joost Zwarts (eds.), Cognitive foundations of interpretation, 69-94. Amsterdam: Royal Netherlands Academy of Science.

Bresnan, J & Ford, M. (2010). Predicting Syntax: Processing dative construction in American and Australian varieties of English. Language, 86(1):168-213.

Levin, B. & Rappaport Hovav, M. (2008). The English dative alternation: The case for verb sensitivity. J. Linguistics, 44:129-167.

Poplack, S., Walker, J. & Malcolmson, R. (2006). An English “like no other”?: Language contact and change in Quebec. Canadian Journal of Linguistics, 51, 2/3. 185-213.

Tagliamonte, S. (to appear). A comparative sociolinguistic analysis of the dative alternation.

1 Codes refer to the corpus name (Quebec English Corpus), subsample name (Oshawa-Whitby), speaker number and line number of the data taken from Poplack, Walker & Malcolmson’s Quebec English Corpus, 2006, Oshawa-Whitby control sample.


Sociolinguistic Investigations into Dialect Syntax: Negative Concord in Montréal French
Heather Burnett, Mireille Tremblay (Université de Montréal), Hélène Blondeau (University of Florida)

While negation in French has generated a lot of attention in terms of the absence of ne, little has been done regarding the variation between the variable presence of pas with n-words (ex. personne ‘no one/anyone’, rien ‘nothing/anything’ etc, jamais ‘never’). In Montreal French, like in other varieties of French, n-words can appear bare in post-verbal position and contribute a semantic negation to the sentence. However this variety also exhibits another variant conveying the same meaning. In such case when n-words appear within the scope of the propositional negation pas, unlike in the other variety where such sentences have a double negation interpretation, the only interpretation of a sentence like J’ai pas vu personne is a single one: ‘I saw no one’.

We argue that testing the predictions of the theories through traditional ‘native speaker judgment’ methods is problematic. Firstly, the literature on negative concord in MF exhibits disagreements concerning the grammaticality of core sentences, and, secondly, native MF speakers are themselves often unsure about the acceptability of the concord sentences which are not part of the spoken standard dialect. Our paper thus highlights the contributions that corpus-based sociolinguistic research can make to the empirical foundations of theoretical syntax.

This paper provides an analysis of the sociolinguistically conditioned variation in negative concord for a corpus of Montreal French. We present a study of the distribution and interpretation of the 2790 n-words in the Montréal 84 corpus (Thibault et al. 1990). We observe that, contrary to previous claims in the literature (cf. Léard (1995), Déprez (2002), Déprez & Martineau (2004)), concord with pas is possible with the entire class of n-words, and, using variable rule analysis, we show that use of structures with pas is conditioned by a combination social factors (education and profession) and linguistic factors (syntactic position, embedding, complement-taking). 


Déprez, V. (2002). Concordance négative, syntaxe des mots-N et variation dialectale. Cahiers de linguistique française, 25:97–117.

Déprez, V. & F. Martineau. (2004). Pour une analyse micro-paramétrique de la concordance négative. Indéfinis et prédications. Paris-Sorbonne.

Léard, J. (1995). Grammaire québécoise d’aujourd’hui. Guérin.

Thibault, P., Vincent, D., & Audet, G. (1990). Un corpus de français parlé: Montréal 84. Université Laval, Québec.


Mergers of the Caribbean: Low-Back Vowels in Bequia
James Walker (York University), Miriam Meyerhoff (Victoria University of Wellington)

In contrast with the extensive attention paid to North American English (e.g. Labov, Ash & Boberg 2006), the vowel systems of Caribbean English have received little attention: most work focuses on a few locales, and often on a single speaker (e.g. Thomas 2001). Thus, it is thus unclear whether proposed principles of vowel mergers and shifts are applicable in the Caribbean, where both transmission and diffusion have operated (Labov 2007, 2011). This paper provides an acoustic analysis of vowel systems in Bequia (St Vincent and the Grenadines), focusing on the low-back vowels that are pivotal in initiating vowel shifts in other English varieties.

From a corpus of sociolinguistic interviews recorded in 2003-2005 (Meyerhoff & Walker 2013), we selected a subsample of eight speakers representing four villages. Vowels were automatically force-aligned and formant measurements were extracted with FAVE (Rosenfelder et al. 2011) and normalized with NORM (Thomas & Kendall 2007; Fabricius et al. 2009). Excluding tokens with preceding obstruent-liquid clusters or glides and with following (underlying) /r/ (Baranowski 2013) yielded a dataset of 2,893 low-back vowel tokens, which were coded for speaker village and sex, phonological context and vowel class. The contribution of these factors was analyzed via mixed-effects linear regression in Rbrul (Johnson 2009), with speaker and word as random effects.

Results show that most vowels are consistent across all speakers, with the main source of inter- village variation occurring among the low-back vowels: in two villages, the LOT-THOUGHT vowels are merged, while in the others they remain distinct. In contrast to what has been found in North American varieties, the LOT-THOUGHT merger does not appear to affect the rest of the vowel system. Although more detailed analysis is obviously required, Caribbean English may require modifying the principles of vowel mergers and shifts proposed for other varieties of English.


Baranowski, M. 2013. Sociophonetics. In R. Bayley, R. Cameron & C. Lucas (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Sociolinguistics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 403-24.

Fabricius, A., D. Watt, & D.E. Johnson. 2009. A comparison of three speaker-intrinsic vowel formant frequency normalization algorithms for sociophonetics. Language Variation and Change 21: 413-35.

Johnson, D.E. 2009. Getting off the GoldVarb standard: Introducing Rbrul for mixed-effects variable rule analysis. Language and Linguistics Compass 3: 359-83.

Labov, W. 2007. Transmission and diffusion. Language 83: 344-87.

Labov, W. 2011. Principles of Linguistic Change, Volume 3: Cognitive and Cultural Factors. Oxford and Malden, MA: Wiley Blackwell.

Labov, W., S. Ash & C. Boberg. 2006. The Atlas of North American English: Phonetics, Phonology, and Sound Change. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Meyerhoff, M. & J.A. Walker. 2013. Bequia Talk (St Vincent and the Grenadines). London: Battlebridge Press.

Rosenfelder, I., J. Fruehwald, K. Evanini & J. Yuan. 2011. Forced Alignment and Vowel Extraction (FAVE) Program Suite (http://fave.ling.upenn.edu).

Thomas, E. & T. Kendall. 2007. NORM: The Vowel Normalization and Plotting Suite (http://ncslaap.lib.ncsu.edu/tools/norm/)