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Revitalizing Endangered Languages

Edited by Justyna Olko & Julia Sallabank

Revitalizing Endangered Languages "This guidebook provides ideas and strategies, as well as some background, to help with the effective revitalization of endangered languages. It covers a broad scope of themes including effective planning, benefits, wellbeing, economic aspects, attitudes and ideologies."

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Dissertation Information

Title: The Social and Linguistic Predictors of the Outcomes of Borrowing in the Speech Community of Montréal Add Dissertation
Author: Michael Friesner Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: University of Pennsylvania, Department of Linguistics
Completed in: 2009
Linguistic Subfield(s): Phonology; Sociolinguistics;
Subject Language(s): French
Director(s): William Labov
Shana Poplack
Gillian Sankoff
Rolf Noyer

Abstract: This dissertation examines the adaptation of loanwords in natural speech
based on loanword data from sociolinguistic interviews with native French
speakers in Montréal. The Francophone sample was supplemented with
interviews with native Spanish-speaking Montrealers, to examine the
influence of bilinguals, often reported to be the introducers of
borrowings. The social and linguistic factors favoring adaptation as
opposed to importation of foreign segments are considered, and within the
category of adaptation, the extent to which this adaptation is phonetic vs.
phonological is explored.

Acoustic analysis of the vowels reveals that the patterns observed lend
support to both phonetic and phonological approaches. Some surprising
patterns are discovered, notably the adaptation of English /æ/, which
exhibits prenasal tensing. Phonetic and social explanations for this result
are proposed. For consonants, the adaptation patterns of /r/ and /h/ are
found to be conditioned by a number of factors, including, but not limited
to, individual speakers' linguistic ability. Throughout the analysis,
limited evidence is found for the influence of neighborhood bilingualism,
with individual bilingualism being the predominant determining factor for
segment importation in the loanword data, in addition to earliest
attestation date, frequency, and sometimes additional social factors. The
predominance of individual bilingualism over community bilingualism is
explained by the social composition of Montréal, as well as the
distribution of the present sample in terms of social characteristics.
Finally, in the analysis of the Hispanophone sample, it is found that while
bilinguals influence the variants' rate of use, they do not affect the
grammatical constraints applying to each of the variants, suggesting a
solution to the question of the particular role of bilinguals.

This study elucidates many of the complex and multifaceted issues related
to loanword adaptation, serving as a contribution to several fields of
linguistics, including sociolinguistics, phonology, phonetics, and the
study of language contact. This dissertation also contributes to the
growing body of knowledge about the linguistic behavior of the multilingual
speech community of Montréal.