Denis, Derek

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Now showing 1 - 2 of 2
  • Publication
    Null Subjects in Heritage Languages: Contact Effects in a Cross-linguistic Context
    (2011-01-01) Nagy, Naomi G; Aghdasi, Nina; Denis, Derek; Motut, Alexandra
    This paper presents an overview of the first variable examined in the Heritage Language Variation and Change in Toronto project (Nagy 2009), which strives to apply consistent methodology across multiple language-contact contexts and variables to advance our understanding of contact-induced change. It is principally comprised of sociolinguistic interviews conducted in Toronto with 40 speakers from each of six heritage languages (Cantonese, Faetar, Italian, Korean, Russian and Ukrainian). Participants are also asked about their ethnic identification, language use, and linguistic attitudes (Keefe & Padilla 1987, Hoffman & Walker 2010). Responses are translated into index scores to quantify each speakers' orientation toward their heritage language/culture and their English/"Canadian" culture. Here we examine the effects of a constellation of factors (linguistic, typological, demographic, social) on a single linguistic variable: (pro-drop). Our Cantonese, Italian and Russian data, ~6,000 tokens, is contrasted with a sample from the Toronto English Archive (Tagliamonte & Denis 2010). For comparability with previous studies of pro-drop, we examine the effects of continuity of reference (Cameron 1995), contextual/formal ambiguity of the subject's referent (Paredes Silva 1993), clause type (Harvie 1998), priming by the preceding subject (Torres Cacoullos & Travis 2010), person and number of the subject, and tense of the following verb. Pro-drop rates and constraint hierarchies in each HL show no relationship to any indices of generation since immigration, ethnic identity or language use, suggesting that this variable is not used to construct ethnic identity and is not undergoing change as the heritage varieties of each language develop in Toronto.
  • Publication
    Innovators and Innovation: Tracking the Innovators of and stuff in York English
    (2011-01-01) Denis, Derek
    The transatlantic perspective on general extenders (GEs) illuminates an aspect of linguistic change that is rarely observed in the language variation and change literature -- the incipient stage. This paper considers some characteristics of the incipient stage of an innovation in the context of a close examination of a change in progress in the GE system of York English and asks, who are the innovators in a speech community? This data is contrasted with similar findings from the Toronto English Archive (Tagliamonte and Denis 2010). In both communities there is a change in progress such that one type of GE in the system is increasing. In Toronto, this increase is monotonic and spans the apparent time range of the corpus. However, in York, the same rise is not present until after the 1960s. This observation is leveraged to investigate the incipient stage of linguistic change.