Research Projects

Contact in the City:

Ethnolinguistic Variation in Toronto English

with Michol Hoffman (York University)

Toronto, considered the most multicultural city in the world, features a high degree of contact among speakers of different minority languages in an English-dominant context. However, ethnic groups tend to settle in particular neighbourhoods, leading to “ethnic enclaves” which have been argued to impede the acquisition of English and result in “ESL varieties” of English. This project represents the first large-scale attempt to systematically address the effects of language contact in this multicultural setting. We are interviewing residents of Toronto, stratified according to generation and ethnic origin. We further stratify younger speakers according to their perceived degree of orientation to the relevant ethnic group. We are exploring the ways in which people use linguistic variation to construct and express ethnic identities by examining the social and linguistic patterning of several linguistic features.

funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Faculty of Arts, York University