“Acadian French in Contact: Connecting the Past and the Present”. A lecture by Ruth King (York University, Toronto Canada)
Wednesday, March 29 , 2017
3-4pm, Pugh Hall 210
Professor of Linguistics at York University in Toronta, Canada, Ruth King has published widely on grammatical variation and change in contemporary French varieties and on the sociolinguistic history of the language. Her research areas include language and dialect contact, minority language varieties in the media and language and identity.
Acadian French refers to varieties of French spoken in Canada’s four Atlantic Provinces and in parts of eastern Québec. In this talk, I show how these varieties’ intertwined histories – involving periods of dialect isolation as well as dialect contact and, to some extent, language contact – have affected cross-varietal unity and diversity. I also consider the present-day role of (interactive) communication media in the recontextualization of these regional dialects. I bring these two threads together by comparing case studies of language variation and change a century apart, one involving early 20th century dialect contact in L’Anse-à-Canards, Newfoundland and the other involving early 21st century dialect and language contact in Moncton, New Brunswick. I consider a wide array of evidence: quantitative analysis of language variation found in large corpora of spoken language data; qualitative and quantitative analysis of sociodemographic information; and qualitative analysis of “talk about talk” found in spoken language corpora, ethnographies, older texts such as travellers’ diaries and personal letters, and newer texts involving media representations of Acadian varieties. The analyses reveal striking similarities in terms of the motivations and trajectories of language variation and change past and present, albeit with increased complexity in the metalinguistic framing of such variation in the early 21st century