Is one innovation enough? Leaders, covariation and language change

2017-04-21T10:43:29Z (GMT) by Cathleen Waters Sali A. Tagliamonte
Do the people who lead in one linguistic change, lead in others? Previous work has suggested that they do not, but the topic has not been addressed extensively with non-phonological, spoken data. In this paper, we answer this question through an examination of lexical, morphosyntactic and discourse-pragmatic changes in progress in Canadian English as spoken in the largest urban center of the country, Toronto. Close scrutiny of the behavior of individuals across multiple linguistic variables, i.e. covariation, and using the Pearson product-moment correlation coefficient enables us to test the use of incoming variants both by the community of speakers as a whole and by those who are leading change. The innovative variants of quotatives, i.e. be like, intensifiers, i.e. really, so, deontic modality, i.e. have to, stative possession, i.e. have and general extenders, i.e. and stuff, demonstrate that the leaders of these multiple linguistic changes have common social characteristics (e.g. women lead more than one change), but it is not the case that any one individual in a community will be at the forefront of more than one change.

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