A sociolinguistic study of Long Island, Notre Dame Bay, Newfoundland

Colbourne, B. Wade (1982) A sociolinguistic study of Long Island, Notre Dame Bay, Newfoundland. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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This study attempted to apply the standard methods of sociolinguistics to a rural Newfoundland community (Long Island, Notre Dame Bay) in which there were no obvious socio-economic classes. Eleven linguistic variables (seven phonological plus four grammatical) were investigated in five different contextual styles. Purely linguistic conditioning was also investigated. The twenty-four speakers (informants) were divided into eight cells based on three binary divisions by sex, age, and education. A difference of means test was used to determine the statistical significance of observed differences in frequencies of variants. -- Several interesting conclusions emerged. Synchronic phonological conditioning of all seven phonological variables was found and, in at least one case, additional diachronic evidence was adduced. The grammatical variable (-ing) showed both phonological and grammatical conditioning. The varying patterns of interdependence among the three independent variables of sex, age, and education yielded several insights into the sociolinguistic structure of the Island. It was also found that sex, age, and education ranked first, second, and third respectively in the variation attributable to these three social variables. However, the strongest conditioning of all proved to be stylistic, with significantly wider variation for all speakers between casual speech (on the one hand) and the four other more formal styles (on the other hand) than between the six most non-standard speakers (i.e., the six older males) and the other eighteen speakers (i.e., the six older females plus the twelve younger speakers). Like socio-economic class in urban studies, style here produced discrete changes in the four grammatical variables. In addition, the stylistic range of younger speakers was significantly wider than that of older speakers, with the young (in their more formal styles) having better command of standard variants. This no doubt facilitates linguistic interaction with non-local speakers, and perhaps indicates a trend towards bidialectalism.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/7557
Item ID: 7557
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves [138]-140.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Linguistics
Date: 1982
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: Canada--Newfoundland and Labrador--Long Island (Notre Dame Bay)
Library of Congress Subject Heading: English language--Social aspects--Newfoundland and Labrador--Long Island (Notre Dame Bay); Long Island (Notre Dame Bay, N.L.)--Social conditions

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