Language attitudes and language change

Sandra Clarke and Andrew Erskine

in Newfoundland and Labrador English

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print February 2010 | ISBN: 9780748626168
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748671519 | DOI:
Language attitudes and language change

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Especially since the mid 20th century, Newfoundland English has experienced considerable change, much of which appears to involve weakening or even loss of local speech features, and greater alignment with supralocal (typically, North American) norms. This chapter begins by contextualising language change relative to (largely negative) insider and outsider attitudes to Newfoundland dialects. Using illustrative examples, the chapter documents the social and stylistic patterns associated with ongoing phonetic and grammatical change. Despite fairly rapid intergenerational decline in the use of some local features, others are shown to be more robust: they display obvious style shifting, in that they tend to be avoided by younger speakers in formal, though not in casual, speech styles. Rapid change is also in evidence at the levels of vocabulary and discourse. Loss of traditional lexicon is countered by the borrowing of lexical innovations from outside the province, along with such “trendy” discourse features as quotative be like, and the prosodic features of creaky voice and high rising intonation in statements.

Keywords: phonetic change; grammatical change; language attitudes; intergenerational change; style shifting; lexical loss; lexical innovation; quotatives; prosodic features

Chapter.  9612 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Sociolinguistics

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