The social and linguistic predictors of the outcomes of borrowing in the speech community of Montréal

Michael Lee Friesner, University of Pennsylvania


This dissertation examines the adaptation of loanwords in natural speech based on loanword data from sociolinguistic interviews with native French speakers in Montréal. The Francophone sample was supplemented with interviews with native Spanish-speaking Montrealers, to examine the influence of bilinguals, often reported to be the introducers of borrowings. The social and linguistic factors favoring adaptation as opposed to importation of foreign segments are considered, and within the category of adaptation, the extent to which this adaptation is phonetic vs. phonological is explored. Acoustic analysis of the vowels reveals that the patterns observed lend support to both phonetic and phonological approaches. Some surprising patterns are discovered, notably the adaptation of English /æ/, which exhibits prenasal tensing. Phonetic and social explanations for this result are proposed. For consonants, the adaptation patterns of /r/ and /h/ are found to be conditioned by a number of factors, including, but not limited to, individual speakers' linguistic ability. Throughout the analysis, limited evidence is found for the influence of neighborhood bilingualism, with individual bilingualism being the predominant determining factor for segment importation in the loanword data, in addition to earliest attestation date, frequency, and sometimes additional social factors. The predominance of individual bilingualism over community bilingualism is explained by the social composition of Montréal, as well as the distribution of the present sample in terms of social characteristics. Finally, in the analysis of the Hispanophone sample, it is found that while bilinguals influence the variants' rate of use, they do not affect the grammatical constraints applying to each of the variants, suggesting a solution to the question of the particular role of bilinguals. This study elucidates many of the complex and multifaceted issues related to loanword adaptation, serving as a contribution to several fields of linguistics, including sociolinguistics, phonology, phonetics, and the study of language contact. This dissertation also contributes to the growing body of knowledge about the linguistic behavior of the multilingual speech community of Montréal.

Subject Area

Linguistics|Canadian studies|Ethnic studies

Recommended Citation

Friesner, Michael Lee, "The social and linguistic predictors of the outcomes of borrowing in the speech community of Montréal" (2009). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3363297.