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LINGUIST List 17.1581

Wed May 24 2006

Diss: Historical Ling: Dollinger: 'New-Dialect Formation in Early C...'

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        1.    Stefan Dollinger, New-Dialect Formation in Early Canada: The modal auxiliaries in Ontario English, 1776-1850


Message 1: New-Dialect Formation in Early Canada: The modal auxiliaries in Ontario English, 1776-1850
Date: 23-May-2006
From: Stefan Dollinger <stefan.dollingerunivie.ac.at>
Subject: New-Dialect Formation in Early Canada: The modal auxiliaries in Ontario English, 1776-1850


Institution: Vienna University
Program: Department of English
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2006

Author: Stefan Dollinger

Dissertation Title: New-Dialect Formation in Early Canada: The modal auxiliaries in Ontario English, 1776-1850

Dissertation URL: http://homepage.univie.ac.at/stefan.dollinger/comp.htm

Linguistic Field(s): Historical Linguistics

Subject Language(s): English (eng)

Dissertation Director:
J. K. Chambers
Nikolaus Ritt
Herbert Schendl

Dissertation Abstract:

This study investigates eleven modals and semi-modals in the earliest
periods of Ontario English from a variationist point of view. Making use of
the first electronic corpus of early Canadian English, the Corpus of Early
Ontario English, pre-Confederation section (CONTE-pC), the study links
language-internal data to recent sociohistorical findings. Based on an
analysis of more than 4,350 modal tokens, most of them analyzed along
semantic notions (Coates 1983, Palmer 1990), the processes of dialect
mixing in early Ontario are outlined.

Trudgill's (2004, 1986) theory of new-dialect formation in colonial
settings serves as the theoretical backdrop. While the study shows that the
theory provides an adequate developmental scenario for colonial settings,
it proposes three modifications and extensions in the early Ontarian
context. The cumulative data of CAN/MAY, COULD/MIGHT, SHALL/WILL,
SHOULD/WOULD, MUST, OUGHT TO and HAVE TO in a total of 19 contexts allow an
assessment of the modal auxiliary complex in early Ontario English in
relation to notions of colonial lag and the founder principle (Mufwene
1996). The results show, while varying greatly between the variables, that
early Canadian English tends to be slightly progressive in its overall
modal use when compared to BrE, and is almost as progressive as AmE.

For the first time, this study empirically assesses American and British
influences for a pre-1900 variety of Canadian English, which complements
apparent-time scenarios that reach back to the 1920s. The findings put the
classic contributions by M. Bloomfield (1948) and Scargill (1957) on the
origin of Canadian English into perspective and support a more balanced
view (cf. Chambers 1998, 1991). Four major forces on early Ontario English
are identified and ranked according to their influences: drift (parallel
development) is the most prevalent factor operating on the modal
auxiliaries in early OntE, followed by early AmE input, with Canadian
independent developments in third place, and BrE import as the fourth most
dominant factor.



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