English has many words to refer to an adult man (e.g., man, guy, dude), and these are undergoing change in the Ontario dialects. This article analyzes the distribution of these and related forms using data collected in Ontario, Canada. In total, 6,788 tokens for 17 communities were extracted and analyzed with a comparative sociolinguistics methodology for social and geographic factors. The results demonstrate a substantive language change in progress with two striking patterns. First, male speakers in Ontario were the leaders of this change in the past. However, as guy gained prominence across the twentieth century, women started using it as frequently as men. Second, these developments are complicated by the complexity of the sociolinguistic landscape. There is a clear urban versus peripheral division across Ontario communities that also involves both population size and distance from the large urban center, Toronto. Further, social network type and other local influences are also important. In sum, variation in third-person singular male referents in Ontario dialects provides new insight into the co-occurrence and evolution of sociolinguistic factors in the process of language change.
Interesting Fellow or Tough Old Bird?: Third-Person Male Referents in Ontario
karlien franco holds a Ph.D. in linguistics from Katholieke Universiteit Leuven and Radboud University Nijmegen. In 2019 she joined the Sociolinguistics Lab at the University of Toronto as a postdoc working on the Ontario Dialects Project, most recently on the Social Determinants of Linguistic Systems research grant. At present, she is a postdoctoral fellow at the Quantitative Lexicology and Variational Linguistics (QLVL) research group of KU Leuven. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
sali a. tagliamonte is professor of linguistics at the University of Toronto, Canada. She is the author of six books, including Analysing Sociolinguistic Variation (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2006), Variationist Sociolinguistics (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012), Roots of English (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2013), and Making Waves (Wiley-Blackwell, 2016). She has published on Canadian and British English dialects, teen language, and television. Her research focuses on morphosyntactic and discourse-pragmatic features using cross-community comparisons and apparent time to explore linguistic change. Email: email@example.com.
Karlien Franco, Sali A. Tagliamonte; Interesting Fellow or Tough Old Bird?: Third-Person Male Referents in Ontario. American Speech 1 May 2021; 96 (2): 192–216. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00031283-8661833
Download citation file: