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University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics

Abstract

Modern urban communities are inherently heterogeneous (Nagy and Meyerhoff 2008), yet sociolinguistic studies often focus on the white majority (Trudgill 1974, 1986, Labov 2001), or treat different ethnic groups as distinct communities and identify divergent patterns (Horvath 1991, Santa Ana and Parodi 1998). Relatively few studies so far have looked at the participation of speakers with ethnic backgrounds in on-going sound changes that characterize the founding community (Boberg 2004, Roeder 2009, Hoffman and Walker 2010, Wong and Hall-Lew 2014, Riebold 2015). The current study investigates the status of the Canadian Shift (Clarke, Elms, and Youssef 1995, Pappas and Jeffrey 2013) among the four largest heritage groups in Vancouver. Forty-seven speakers stratified according to heritage group (British/mixed European, Chinese, Filipino, and South Asian) and gender took part in sociolinguistic interviews and word list reading designed to elicit the major allophonic patterns of vowels in Canadian English (Boberg 2008). Formant analyses of 1,813 tokens from the word list were conducted in Praat using the methods by Labov, Ash, and Boberg (2006). Results based on linear mixed effects regression models reveal that all four groups participate in the Canadian Shift as defined in Boberg (2008). We also find significant differences in specific dimensions of the change for each vowel, which perhaps are used by the different groups in the construction of ethnic identity.

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