Tuesday, October 20, 2009

MUN Linguistics hosts 33rd annual APLA conference

On November 6-7, 2009, Memorial's Linguistics department will host the 33rd Annual Conference of the Atlantic Provinces Linguistic Association/l’Association de linguistique des provinces de l’Atlantique (APLA/ALPA). This year, the theme is ‘The Effects of Globalization on Local Languages and Dialects.’ The keynote address is free and open to the general public, and attendance at the conference is free for Memorial students.

The keynote address will be delivered by Dr. Sylvie Dubois (Louisiana State University) in the Arts and Administration Building (AA-1043) on Friday, November 6 from 7:00 - 8:00 p.m. Dr. Dubois' talk title is: Distinctive Paths of Linguistic Resistance: The Case of Cajun Vernacular English and Creole African-American Vernacular. A reception and cash bar will follow the talk.

Further information about the conference can be found at http://www.mun.ca/linguistics/APLA2009/, via e-mail apla33 [ at ] mun.ca or by calling the Linguistics Department at 737-8134.

Keynote Speech by Sylvie Dubois (Louisiana State University)

Date: Friday, November 6, 2009
Time: 7:00 - 8:00 p.m.
Location: Arts and Administration Building (AA-1043)
Reception and cash bar to follow.

Distinctive Paths of Linguistic Resistance:
The Case of Cajun Vernacular English and Creole African-American Vernacular English

Language and social variation in Louisiana has a long and complex history. Any account of the present day varieties of English must begin with an historical overview of the ways in which language, ethnicity, race, and socioeconomic structure have been interwoven to form the intricate tapestry that is Louisiana. The focus of our talk is on the vernacular English currently spoken by Creole African-Americans of French ancestry (CAAVE) and Cajuns (CVE) living in South Louisiana. Language change and linguistic persistence characterize both black and white French-speaking populations. The most important change is the decline in the number of bilinguals. One aspect of persistence is the development of CAAVE and CVE dialects that distinguish THESE speakers from their fellow Southerners. Another one is the maintenance of these divergent dialects while others are disappearing elsewhere in Southern American English (Bailey 2001). When we compare the oldest speakers of both varieties, phonological and morphological variables show no difference. The only reason to speak of two vernaculars is social. For the next generations, persistence of the dialect takes quite a different form. In CAAVE, a high rate of glide absence is maintained across all generations. In CVE, the middle-aged generation uses this feature dramatically less, but the younger generation increases its use so that their frequency approaches the proportion found in the speech of the older generation. We argue against the fact that the similarities between CAAVE and CVE as spoken by older speakers are the result of interference from French. We suggest that they speak comparable dialects because they learned English from people who spoke English in and around their communities, not only as adults but as children as well, and that these English speakers had all these features in their speech. We will also show that linguistic persistence in CAAVE has more to do with the patterns of social intercourse, whereas persistence in CVE is better explained by the social changes that took place throughout the 20th century.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Brown bag talk on Tuesday, October 6

Paul Pigott will be giving a brown bag talk on Tuesday, October 6 from 12:00 - 1:00 in the seminar room (SN 3036).

Sea ice knowledge in Labrador Inuttut: overwhelmed by English

Inuit on the Labrador coast are shown to have a comparatively complex system of classifying and describing sea ice: knowledge now held by Inuttut speakers over 40 years of age or older. Inuit Elders use up to 60 specialized concepts in their own words: Inuttut concepts like ‘ajugak’ a lead or crack used for hunting, fishing and travel. Interviews involving 24 speakers aged 37-79 show a decline in linguistic competence such that the youngest participants knew fewer than a dozen words. The extinction of at least 200 other North American speech communities since contact should be a warning about how quickly they can vanish and permanently alter the ability of future generations to experience the oral history of their ancestors. That is still not the situation in Labrador today. But inspired efforts to teach younger speakers must be made if Inuttut, a fundamental element of Canada’s linguistic history, is to survive into the next generation. The positive result of this study for Labrador Inuit is its documentation of an oral tradition that persists in its eloquent description of ice conditions along the Labrador Coast.