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THE ONTARIO DIALECTS PROJECT:
A Grassroots Perpective On History, Culture and Change
Sali A. Tagliamonte
Why does language change and how?
Language change tends to start in urban centres and spread
out to rural locales (e.g. Chambers & Trudgill, 1980).
This means that changes underway in Toronto may not have yet
reached outlying areas, particularly small Ontario towns
that are far away. In this project we will be documenting Ontario
dialects in the hinterland of Ontario. We hope to discover
Canadian dialects and uncover the roots of
Every year in May I devote my research
time to visiting Ontario communities either on my own or
with som eof my students. In the summer of 2009–2010, we
visited North Bay and South Porcupine. In 2010-2011, we
were in Kirkland Lake and Temiskaming Shores. In May 2012,
we travelled to Haliburton and to Almonte.
As this research project develops, I will report my findings. Stay tuned!
The Millstone, 3 May 2012: "Dialects in the Community: Sociolinguistic Research in the Almonte Area"
Haliburton Echo, 15 May 2012: "Linguist Collecting Haliburton Stories for Study," by Jenn Wyatt
CBC News Ottawa, 1 June 2012: "'Pickin' burries', the Ottawa valley dialect" (includes an audio file)
The Millstone, 2 June 2012: "Sali Tagliamonte studies the Ottawa valley accent"
Ottawa Citizen, 4 June 2012: "Linguist finds Ottawa Valley talk alive and well" (includes a cow)
Your Ottawa Region, 26 June 2012: "Linguist finds 'how she go' down the valley way during research trip" by Desmond Devoy
Language change in
The English language has been
changing rapidly over the past century and the
English spoken in Canada is no exception. My
recent research attests to dramatic patterns of
receding and innovating features. At least
some of these changes are progressing in a
unique way in Canada — a finding which
challenges the putative Americanization of
Canadian English and world Englishes more
Although we have extensive
information about changes underway in big cities
like Toronto; what is the nature of these
developments elsewhere in Ontario? A more
informative picture of the origins and
development of current change in Ontario
requires the examination of a wider variety of
communities, regions and social groups.