English has many words to refer to an adult man, e.g. man, guy, dude, and these are undergoing change in Ontario dialects. This paper analyzes the distribution of these and related forms using data collected in Ontario, Canada. In total, N = 6788 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 20th 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 vs. peripheral division across Ontario communities that also involves both population size and distance from the large urban centre, Toronto. Further, social network type and other local influences are also important. In sum, variation in 3rd 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? 3rd person male referents in Ontario
Karlien Franco holds a PhD in Linguistics from KU Leuven and Radboud University Nijmegen. In 2019 she joined the Variationist Sociolinguistics Lab at the University of Toronto as a postdoc working on the Ontario Dialects Project (most recently Tagliamonte 2013-2018). At present, she is a postdoctoral fellow at the QLVL research group of KU Leuven.
Sali A. Tagliamonte is a Professor of Linguistics at the University of Toronto, Canada. She is the author of six books, including “Making Waves” and “Variationist Sociolinguistics” (Wiley-Blackwell 2012, Wiley-Blackwell 2015) and “Analysing Sociolinguistic Variation” and “Roots of English” (CUP 2006CUP 2013). She has published on Canadian and British English dialects, teen language and television. Her research focusses on morpho-syntactic and discourse-pragmatic features using cross-community comparisons and apparent time to explore linguistic change.
Karlien Franco, Sali A. Tagliamonte; Interesting fellow or tough old bird? 3rd person male referents in Ontario. American Speech 2020; doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00031283-8661833
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