You wants aioli on that seal carpaccio, luh? On the viability of local dialect in the St. John's restaurant industry

Caputo-Nimbark, Roshni (2016) You wants aioli on that seal carpaccio, luh? On the viability of local dialect in the St. John's restaurant industry. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Nearly all dialects experience variation and change, and Newfoundland English (NE) is no exception. As the growing service sector of Newfoundland and Labrador's capital city, St. John's, strives to accommodate a competitive global enterprise culture (Harvey 2005), I question whether spoken language is being reflected in these values. The aim of this thesis is twofold. First, to centralize the workplace in variationist sociolinguistics research, looking specifically at two phonetic variables within the St. John's restaurant industry. Second, to pursue an emic perspective (Eckert 2000) in variationist research by inaugurating organizational identification (Cheney 1983; De Decker 2012), or sense of oneness with one's place of work, as a new framework for analyzing linguistic variation. I recorded a series of hour long, Labovian-style, semi-structured interviews with sixteen female restaurant servers and hostesses from Newfoundland, working at any of six types of restaurant in St. John's classified according to traditional sociolinguistic categories. Participants also completed an Organizational Identification Questionnaire (OIQ) (Gautam et al. 2004). Interviews elicited tokens corresponding to the phonetic variables of interest, slit fricative (Clarke 1986) and creaky voice (Yuasa 2010) in both casual and careful speech. Following interview transcriptions and coding of the two variables, the influence of several external factors on OI and linguistic behaviour was analyzed with multiple mixed-effects logistic regression models run using the glmer package in R (Johnson 2009). The traditional variationist model shows local and expensive restaurant employees to exhibit significantly less creak and affrication than employees of non-local and inexpensive restaurants (p<0.000). The OI model presents nearly identical results, in that OI is strongest in local and expensive restaurants and there is a strong negative correlation between OI and use of creaky voice and slit fricative. Indeed, the relative lack of the observed variables among higher end restaurant employees, coupled with incrementally higher OI, points to the linguistic capital (Bourdieu 1991) of neutral speech, which appears to play a role in shaping the socially salient organizational image of the restaurant industry as a whole. Overall, the OI model is seen as more meaningful than traditional variationist models because rather than indexing an employee's linguistic behaviour to a fixed restaurant category, OI is viewed as consonant with a restaurant's linguistic identity at a particular time and place, with ethnographies providing emic, descriptive categorizations of restaurants, further qualifying the interaction between OI and linguistic behaviour. It is hoped that this study encourages a discussion about how alignment with perceived market identity relates to linguistic capital, how the economic evaluation of specific dialects is temporarily manifested in variations of spoken English in the workplace, and how OI provides an emic perspective for analyzing workplace variation.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Item ID: 12700
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 101-109).
Keywords: variationist sociophonetics, organizational identification, neoliberalism, restaurant industry, emic perspective, workplace language, Newfoundland English
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Linguistics
Date: December 2016
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Sociolinguistics--Newfoundland and Labrador--St. John's.

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