Volume 43, Issue 3
  • ISSN 0172-8865
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9730
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In this study, we examine variation in English strong verb preterite/participle morphology in four frequent verbs: /, /, / and /, using data from more than a dozen Ontario communities, socially stratified by age, sex, occupation and education, representing a continuum of urban/rural locations and spanning more than 100 years in apparent-time. Comparative sociolinguistic methods and statistical modelling permit testing of social, geographic and linguistic factors on the variation. Despite strong social constraints, linguistic constraints are also significant. We argue that standardization and increasing literacy have nearly eradicated the vernacular preterite forms, but they are not moribund yet. Moreover, at least one form is stable, preterite . The non-standard variants endure as sociolinguistic markers, perhaps due to locally situated prestige, particularly in non-urban communities.


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