Cross-generational change in heritage languages in Toronto ?
The Heritage Language Variation and Change project (Nagy 2009, 2011) is based on intergenerational comparisons (i.e., how many generations since the family immigrated to Toronto?) of speakers in language diaspora in Toronto. I will discuss some differences between the results of experimental studies and our variationist sociolinguistic studies based on spontaneous speech. The focus will be on the picture we see of intergenerational differences, as well as differences between homeland vs. heritage varieties. In general, greater linguistic stability is illustrated by the variationist approach than experimental methods. The data are from studies of Voice Onset Time (VOT), case marking, and null subject pronoun variation (listed at http://projects.chass.utoronto.ca/ngn/HLVC/1_5_publications.php). The languages discussed include Cantonese, Faetar (a Francoprovençal variety spoken in southern Italy), Italian, Korean, Polish, Russian and Ukrainian.
More about Professor Naomi Nagy
Naomi Nagy is a Professor of Linguistics at the University of Toronto. Her area is sociolinguistics, with particular interest in understanding language contact through variationist sociolinguistic approaches. She directs the Heritage Language Variation and Change (http://projects.chass.utoronto.ca/ngn/HLVC/) Project which examines variation in 10 languages spoken in Toronto, including Faetar, an endangered Francoprovençal variety. Goals of this project include documenting cross-generational variation in heritage languages, via digital recordings and time-aligned orthographic transcriptions of conversations, ethnic orientation questionnaires, and elicitation tasks. Cross-linguistic comparisons allow the development of a generalized understanding of contact-induced language change and helps push the field of variationist sociolinguistics to expand beyond its monolingually-oriented core.
She has published recently in Asia-Pacific Language Variation, International Journal of Bilingualism, International Journal of the Sociology of Language, Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, Journal of Phonetics, Journal of Sociolinguistics, Language Documentation and Conservation, Language Learning, Language Variation and Change and Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism. She co-edited Social Lives in Language—Sociolinguistics and multilingual speech communities with Miriam Meyerhoff, and issues of the Canadian Journal of Linguistics (Variation at the Crossroads: Advancing theory by integrating methods, with Michol Hoffman) and the International Journal of the Sociology of Language (Francoprovençal: documenting contact varieties in Europe and North America, with Jonathan Kasstan). She is currently advising/supervising PhD students conducting variationist analyses of Ciociaro, Arabic, Inuktitut, Tagalog and Uruguayan Portuguese.
Nagy, N. 2009. Heritage Language Variation and Change in Toronto. http://projects.chass.utoronto.ca/ngn/HLVC/
Nagy, N. 2011. A multilingual corpus to explore geographic variation. Rassegna Italiana di Linguistica Applicata 43.1-2:65-84.