Urbanization and Rapid Change in Newfoundland English
Contemporary Newfoundlands distinct social profile and history make it an ideal site for research into language change, a major focus of sociolinguistics. Early settlement and subsequent isolation have created a highly distinct traditional dialect, while recent major social changes such as political integration, urbanization, declining birthrates, educational advances, the growth of the oil industry, and the collapse of the traditional fishery have created the conditions for dramatic language change. This offers us the rare opportunity to document and analyze rapid change in a variety of English as it happens. We use large-scale quantitative methods to look at how age, gender, education, religion, neighbourhood and orientation (local or external) influence language use in Petty Harbour, a community that has changed from an isolated traditional rural fishing economy to a suburb of St. Johns in a very short time. Our preliminary findings show rapid language change, mirroring social change. In particular, we note a decline in the influence of religion and a rise in the influence of education and orientation.
01 Jan 2006
Strategic Research Theme
Community and Regional Development
Creative Arts, Culture and Heritage