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mar. 20/03/2018 Atelier Histoire et Ecologie des Langues - Véronique Lacoste. Haitian English in the Canadian diaspora
ISH-Ennat Leger

Sociolinguistic research in Canada has recently focused on ethnolinguistic variation in Toronto English and more generally on how Canadian English is changing, and to what extent immigrant communities established in the country play a part in this change and how they contribute to its linguistic diversity. This article, based on the Toronto Haitian English project, provides a variationist study of some aspects of the English phonological repertoire used by Canadians of Haitian origin living in the Toronto area. The data comes from sociolinguistic interviews of 24 Haitian Canadians conducted by a local Torontonian and includes two categories of English speakers: 1. informants who live in Toronto or in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and were born in Haiti, both their parents are Haitian and their native tongue is not English and 2. informants who live in Toronto or in the GTA and were born in Toronto or elsewhere in Canada, both their parents are Haitian and their native tongue or dominant language is English or they have native-like competence in English. The analysis concerns a set of realisations for some phonological variables like dental fricatives, intervocalic phoneme /t/ and phoneme /ɹ/ in correlation with a set of social variables like age, gender, occupation, and number of years spent in Toronto. Statistical results reflect variants characteristic of Standard Canadian English but also variants found typically in francophone speakers of English or those transferred from Haitian Creole or French. Other phonetic variants match those found in the speech of Anglophone Caribbean speakers also established in the Toronto area. Haitian speakers whose English is their dominant language were found to produce a majority of mainstream Canadian English features. The results for speakers in category 1 reflect Haitian Canadians’ sociocultural and sociolinguistic situation of “in-betweens” in the Canadian diaspora exhibiting both a sense of identity preservation with respect to the host society and towards their ‘Haitianity’. The data analysis, however, does not lead to the suggestion that a Haitian English variety is emerging in the Toronto area, which may be partly explained by the current lack of strong community ties and a relatively young settlement in the city, and also due to very diverse individual socio-historical and migratory trajectories.


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