4. Sociolinguistic stratification and new dialect formation in a Canadian aboriginal community: Not so different after all?

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This paper documents a case of new dialect formation in the Canadian aboriginal community of Sheshatshiu, Labrador, established as a permanent settlement in 1959. It examines the applicability of a quantitative variationist approach to the investigation of language change and cross-generational linguistic focusing in a context characterized by the absence of an overt status hierarchy. Results indicate partial dialect convergence among first generation residents of the new settlement. Despite the community’s relatively egalitarian socioeconomic profile, phonological change leading to dialect convergence is shown to be linked to a covert status hierarchy based on territorial group membership, with upward social mobility playing an important role.


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