Papers from the Fourteenth International Conference on Methods in Dialectology, 2011
Part V: Variation and Change
Lexical variation in contact dynamics: Identity or social conditioning?1 Alena Barysevich York University Introduction The subject of socially patterned lexical variability in contact language dyna- mics has been raised in only a handful of variationist studies of spoken Canadian French (Martel 1984; Mougeon, Nadasdi, & Rehner 2008; Mougeon, Rehner, & Nadasdi 2010; Sankoff, Thibault, & Bérubé 1978). These studies revealed that lexical choice is conditioned by strong sociolinguistic predictors (e.g. speakers’ age, sex, and social class, and constraints related to language contact situations). In this paper I attempt to widen the understanding of the social meaning of lexi- cal variation by demonstrating that use of one lexeme or another can be condi- tioned by local cultural change at a specific point in history. Thus, I investigate the relationship between the structure of social groupings and the intergroup relations within communities (cf. Gadet 2007; Mougeon 2005). The vernacular forms char ‘automobile’ and job ‘remunerated work’ have deep histories in Canadian French. For example, char is attested from the late 19th century and has since coexisted with auto, automobile, and voiture. Nota- bly, the origins of char in Canadian French are still questioned (Barysevich 2012; Poirier 1989); it is unclear whether it results from convergence with English car or originated in French charette. What does appear clear is that char and job are not socially neutral, marking dialect differentiation in Canadian French (Barysevich 2012). I first report the frequency of char and job in the French spoken in Hull (in the city of...
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