Dialect development in Nain, Nunatsiavut: emerging English in a Canadian aboriginal community

Thorburn, Jennifer (2014) Dialect development in Nain, Nunatsiavut: emerging English in a Canadian aboriginal community. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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    Available under License - The author retains copyright ownership and moral rights in this thesis. Neither the thesis nor substantial extracts from it may be printed or otherwise reproduced without the author's permission.
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Abstract

This dissertation is a case study of the English spoken in Nain, Nunatsiavut (Labrador), an Inuit community in northern Canada. Conducted within a variationist sociolinguistic framework, it offers a quantitative analysis of a majority language as spoken in an Aboriginal community, an understudied area of research. Nain is an ideal location for this type of study because Labrador Inuit are experiencing rapid language shift as the population becomes predominantly English speaking, with few people learning Inuttitut as their native language, creating an opportunity to examine an emerging variety of English. In this dissertation, I contrast Nain Inuit English with the variety spoken in Newfoundland, the English-speaking region with which residents have historically had contact. I survey three sociolinguistic variables that typify Indigenous English and/or Newfoundland English—one phonological (the realization of interdental fricatives, e.g., this thing pronounced as dis ting), one morphosyntactic (verbal -s, e.g., I loves it), and one discourse (adjectival intensification, e.g., very happy vs. really happy vs. so happy)— to test notions of diffusion and transmission while also looking for evidence of transfer from Inuttitut. I also consider theories of new dialect formation and models of postcolonial English and how they apply to Nain. Complicating this comparison is the fact that some interviewees overtly self-identify as not being Newfoundlanders, raising the possibility that they may try to avoid Newfoundland English variants. Results indicate that Nain Inuit English shares some traits with the English spoken in the rest of the province but has also developed in different ways, though few of these differences can be attributed to influence from Inuttittut. This study also contributes to the growing body of work on majority languages in indigenous communities, in addition to deepening our understanding of English in Labrador.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/6412
Item ID: 6412
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 274-314).
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Linguistics
Date: May 2014
Date Type: Submission

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