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The social embedding of a syntactic alternation: variable particle placement in Ontario English


Röthlisberger, Melanie; Tagliamonte, Sali A (2020). The social embedding of a syntactic alternation: variable particle placement in Ontario English. Language Variation and Change, 32(3):317-348.

Abstract

The present work investigates the effects of social constraints on word order variation in particle placement in Ontario English, Canada. While previous research has documented numerous linguistic factors conditioning the choice of variant, social correlates have so far remained unexplored. To address this gap, we analyze 6,047 variable phrasal verbs from the vernacular speech of six communities in Ontario. These data were coded for length of the direct object, verb semantics, community, and the individual's education, gender, age, and occupation. Our analyses confirm previous findings that variation in particle placement is predominantly determined by direct object length. However, we also expose significant social and geographic factors, and importantly an effect of age, with younger speakers using the joined variant more than older speakers. Further analysis confirms that the latter effect is consistent across communities, indicating a change in progress, possibly due to ongoing grammaticalization of particles in the verb phrase.

Abstract

The present work investigates the effects of social constraints on word order variation in particle placement in Ontario English, Canada. While previous research has documented numerous linguistic factors conditioning the choice of variant, social correlates have so far remained unexplored. To address this gap, we analyze 6,047 variable phrasal verbs from the vernacular speech of six communities in Ontario. These data were coded for length of the direct object, verb semantics, community, and the individual's education, gender, age, and occupation. Our analyses confirm previous findings that variation in particle placement is predominantly determined by direct object length. However, we also expose significant social and geographic factors, and importantly an effect of age, with younger speakers using the joined variant more than older speakers. Further analysis confirms that the latter effect is consistent across communities, indicating a change in progress, possibly due to ongoing grammaticalization of particles in the verb phrase.

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Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > English Department
06 Faculty of Arts > Zurich Center for Linguistics
Dewey Decimal Classification:820 English & Old English literatures
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Education
Social Sciences & Humanities > Language and Linguistics
Social Sciences & Humanities > Linguistics and Language
Uncontrolled Keywords:Linguistics and Language, Education, Language and Linguistics
Language:English
Date:1 October 2020
Deposited On:17 Aug 2021 09:40
Last Modified:10 Feb 2022 04:26
Publisher:Cambridge University Press
ISSN:0954-3945
OA Status:Hybrid
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1017/s0954394520000174
Related URLs:https://osf.io/kn548/ (Research Data)
https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/language-variation-and-change/article/social-embedding-of-a-syntactic-alternation-variable-particle-placement-in-ontario-english/E51C10AA59FE04B591ACB1044C0EB8CF (Publisher)
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