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Saturday, October 12 • 9:20am - 9:45am
Pappas & Tsolakidis: Understanding the history of a linguistic stereotype through the speech of immigrants

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Understanding the history of a linguistic stereotype through the speech of immigrants

We discuss data from the speech of Greek immigrants to Canada which can help us understand how the stereotype against the Northern Greek pronunciation of unstressed vowels (high vowel deletion and non-high vowel raising) developed. We hypothesize that we can gain insights into the stigmatization by examining the usage pattern of 40 Northern Greek speakers who immigrated from Greece during the 1950s and 1960s. For the high vowels we found that the phenomenon of deletion is virtually absent. For the non-high vowels the results show that unstressed non-high vowels are raised and that the raising is not socially conditioned. We will argue that, on the one hand, the deletion of the high vowels must have been fully proscribed in order for our participants to completely avoid it, while the raising of non-high vowels must have been evaluated more leniently and thus it has been maintained.

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.


Panayiotis A. Pappas

Simon Fraser University

Symeon Tsolakidis

University of Patras

Saturday October 12, 2019 9:20am - 9:45am PDT
EMU Gumwood
  S: Querying the individual and the community