This book presents a new and controversial theory about dialect contact and
the formation of new colonial dialects. It examines the genesis of Latin
American Spanish, Canadian French and North American English, but
concentrates on Australian and South African English, with a particular
emphasis on the development of the newest major variety of the language,
New Zealand English.
Peter Trudgill argues that the linguistic growth of these new varieties of
English was essentially deterministic, in the sense that their phonologies
are the predictable outcome of the mixture of dialects taken from the
British Isles to the Southern Hemisphere in the 19th century. These
varieties are similar to one another, not because of historical connections
between them, but because they were formed out of similar mixtures
according to the same principles. A key argument is that social factors
such as social status, prestige and stigma played no role in the early
years of colonial dialect development, and that the ‘work’ of colonial
new-dialect formation was carried out by children over a period of two
generations. The book also uses insights derived from the study of early
forms of these colonial dialects to shed light back on the nature of
19th-century English in the British Isles.
Peter Trudgill is Honorary Professor of Sociolinguistics, University of
East Anglia, Norwich, Emeritus Professor of English Linguistics, University
of Fribourg, Switzerland, and Professor of English Linguistics, Agder
University College, Norway.
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