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Stylistic variation among mobile speakers: Using old and new regional variables to construct complex place identity

  • Jennifer Nycz (a1)

This paper examines stylistic variation in the (oh), (o), (aw), and (ay) classes among native speakers of Canadian English living in or just outside either New York City or Washington, DC. Speakers show evidence of change toward US norms for all four vowels, though only (aw) shows consistent style shifting: prevoiceless (aw) is realized with higher nuclei when speakers express ambivalence about or distance from the United States, and lower nuclei when closeness to or positive affect about the United States is being conveyed. Canadians in New York also show topic- and stance-based shift in (oh): (oh)s are higher when expressing positive affect or closeness to New York City and lower when expressing negative affect or distance. These results suggest that mobile speakers continue to exploit the socioindexical links in their native dialect while learning and using new links in their adopted dialect—but only if those links are socially salient.

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Earlier versions of this work were presented at Dartmouth College (October 27, 2016) and at the Georgetown University Roundtable in Linguistics (March 11, 2017). I am grateful for encouraging and helpful feedback from both audiences and for the comments of two anonymous reviewers.

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Language Variation and Change
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