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.

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