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Saturday, October 12 • 8:30am - 8:55am
Allen et al.: Insights from a longitudinal perspective on English adverb placement in the vernacular

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Insights from a longitudinal perspective on English adverb placement in the vernacular

Research on English variable adverb placement (pre- vs. post-auxiliary) is largely focused on written evidence, with only rare insights from the vernacular. Moreover, no research has investigated adverb placement in longitudinal spoken data, meaning that little is understood about more historical stages in the operation of this system or how they relate to contemporary patterns. Drawing on a large multistage corpus of Canadian English, we pursue the question of what more distal stages of spoken language reveal with respect to patterns of adverb placement in vernacular English. Multivariate regression reveals that linguistic constraints condition variation in parallel to what is reported elsewhere, yet the frequency of pre-auxiliary placement drops over time. The data also indicate that women consistently use the pre-auxiliary position more frequently than do men, an effect that becomes more robust as frequency declines. The results thus suggest a complex interaction between social evaluation and retention of low frequency speaker choices.

Granath, S. (2002). The position of the adverb certainly will make a difference. English Today 18: 25-30.
Jacobson, S. (1975). Factors Influencing the Placement of English Adverbs. Stockholm: Almquist & Wiksell International.
Waters, C. (2013). Transatlantic variation in English adverb placement. Language Variation and Change 25: 179-200.

Session abstract: Querying the individual and the community: New historical sociolinguistic approaches to contact, variation, and change
The theoretical and methodological problem of relating the behavior of individuals (Milroy 1992, Eckert 2000) to trends of language change in the community (Labov 2001:34) is particularly pressing for Historical Sociolinguistics. The five papers in this session, organized by NARNiHS, explore the socio-historical contexts and parameters of individual language use that have given rise to recorded patterns of linguistic variation in multiple understudied communities. A core concern shared by these studies is the broad application of variationist theory to historical data, by situating notions such as language variation, change, and contact, within a sociohistorical dimension. Overall, this session presents a broad range of datsets and tools to to explore the possibilities and limitations of sociolinguistic theory for the analysis of sociohistorical data from a broad range of periods and contexts.

Eckert, Penelope. 2000. Linguistic Variation as Social Practice. Oxford: Blackwell.
Labov, William. 2001. Principles of Linguistic Change, Volume 2: Social Factors. Oxford: Blackwell.
Milroy, James. 1992. Linguistic Variation and Change. Oxford: Blackwell.


Caroline JH Allen

University of Victoria

Emmanuelle Buaillon

University of Victoria

Alexandra D'Arcy

University of Victoria

Saturday October 12, 2019 8:30am - 8:55am PDT
EMU Gumwood
  S: Querying the individual and the community