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Academic Paper


Title: Prestige, accommodation, and the legacy of relative 'who'
Author: Alexandra D'Arcy
Email: click here TO access email
Homepage: http://www.uvic.ca/humanities/linguistics/people/faculty/darcyalexandra.php
Institution: University of Victoria
Author: Sali A Tagliamonte
Email: click here TO access email
Institution: University of Toronto
Linguistic Field: Sociolinguistics
Abstract: This article presents a quantitative variationist analysis of the English restrictive relative pronouns. However, where previous research has largely focused on language-internal explanations for variant choice, the focus here is the social meaning of this erstwhile syntactic variable. We uncover rich sociolinguistic embedding of the relative pronouns in standard, urban speech. The only productive 'wh-' form is 'who', which continues to pattern as a prestige form centuries after its linguistic specialization as a human subject relative. This legacy of prestige is reflected not only in the social characteristics of those with whom it is associated, but also in the patterns of accommodation that are visible in its use. These findings simultaneously demonstrate the tenacious nature of social meaning and the enduring effects of grammatical ideology, both of which influence pronoun choice in the context of face-to-face interaction. (Restrictive relative pronouns, 'who', change from above, age-grading, prestige, accommodation)

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This article appears IN Language in Society Vol. 39, Issue 3, which you can READ on Cambridge's site .



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