If your community organization is interested in hearing about our work, please contact one of the investigators.
We are organizing a mini-conference showcasing recent research on heritage languages in (and near) Toronto: it's called Toronto Language Tapestry.
Heritage Languages in Toronto is on Wikipedia!
2016 was a busy spring for HLVC. Presentations at conferences included:
Lyskawa, Paulina, Valeriya Mordvinova & Naomi Nagy. Case marking variation in heritage Slavic languages in Toronto. Slavic Linguistic Society, Toronto, Sept. 23-25, 2016
Nagy, Naomi. Speakers' attitudes and innovations in Toronto's heritage languages. Sociolinguistics Symposium 21, Murcia, June 15-18, 2016.
Maddeaux, Ruth, Paulina Lyskawa, Emilia Melara & Naomi Nagy. (Why) is code-switching sometimes a predictor of contact effects? CVC 9, Ottawa, May 7-8, 2016
March 2016: After warming up at the Undergraduate Research Forum at U of T, The HLVC Project participated in Workshop on Innovations in Cantonese Linguistics (WICL) at the Ohio State University. We learned a lot about recent research in Cantonese, and are especially excited about the PyCantonese tool. We presented 3 talks from the HLVC project, listed in the WICL conference program. Here are some highlights:
Zahid Daujee, Sam Lo and Andrew Peters prep their talks
Naomi studies Cantonese during the conference dinner
Andrew presents on automated alignment
Holman Tse explains the Cantonese vowel space
Sam Lo and Zahid present on variation in Classifier use in Cantonese and Korean
Holman presents some more
Fall 2015: HLVC is very excited about the NWAV44 conference at U of T, which featured invited speakers talking about many relevant topics, a session on conservatism in heritage varieties, and these presentations from the HLVC project:
Naomi appeared on her first Chinese-language tv show: Timeline Magazine (Fairchild TV) as part of an episode on endangered language preservation and documentation. A unique opportunity to watch a digital
Summer 2015: Maksym Shkvorets, a recently graduated Linguistics major, will be entering the Linguistics MA program at UofT and continuing his study of Heritage Ukrainian. He was a key player in our recent recognition by a research grant from the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies. Congrats also on his recent marriage!
Summer 2015: Samuel Lo, a Linguistics major, spent most of the summer in Hong Kong doing fieldwork to learn about Cantonese as currently spoken in the Homeland. This data will provide a comparison point for the Heritage Cantonese data being collected in Toronto. 11 speakers were recorded. Ariel Chan presented our recent analysis of Cantonese classifiers at a workshop in Hong Kong.
Findings from the Calabrese part of the HLVC project also made it into PanoramItalia 4.4, p. 51. See some of our favourite spots on pp. 40-42. See also a dashing picture of one of our fieldworkers on p. 36.
An incoming MA student (who also earned her BA in our Linguistics Department) is in Poland at the moment, also collecting homeland data. She reports in:
"I have been travelling a bit around Europe, mainly Berlin, Bristol and Prague but this was just for pleasure. It is awfully hot in Poland at the moment so I am hiding indoors which leaves no excuse but to work on transcription.
There have been 9 interviews with homeland speakers so far, I really like this part. I found out so much about my own family, just amazing. All the people my age whom I interviewed so far mentioned that the younger generation (say 15, 16-year-olds) would be the most interesting to look at as far as changes are concerned.
Transcribing gave me a few ideas of what else could be interesting to research. Also, I was very surprised at how much faster homeland speakers speak (which is maybe a bit more time-consuming to transcribe but results in plenty of data).
Finally, I'm in love with the Zoom H4n recorder and the mic. The quality is fantastic and it is very easy to operate. I am using 4CH mode which gives two files - one from internal built-in and one from external lavaliere microphone - just in case.
So far, everything is really good. I am hoping to be as lucky when I come back to Toronto and need to find heritage speakers."
May 4, 2013, 12:00-12:20, in Sid Smith 560A.Koumarianos, K. 2013. Adjective suffixation across three generations of Italian-Canadians. CVC 7, Toronto.
In 2012-13 , we have HLVC presentations in Alberta, Quebec, Japan, Singapore, Hawai'i, Pennsylvania, the UK and France, as well as Toronto.
Three HLVC researchers presented at The Road Less Travelled, an international conference on heritage languages and heritage language acquisition.
Understanding variation in multilingual communities is at the heart of this project. We are developing a body of theoretically-informed, quantified descriptions of variation in several Heritage Languages. Our first step was to build databases of recordings of conversations. We collected samples to represent three generations (immigrants, their children, and the grand-children), representing all age groups (except young children) and speakers with a range of fluency and attitudes toward their Heritage. Though we originally intended to examine only Faetar, Russian and Korean, an array of factors, mostly notably the enthusiasm of students who were speakers of other heritage languages, encouraged us to expand our project to include Italian, Cantonese and Ukrainian.
Collaboration between a phonetician, a phonologist, a morphosyntactician, and a variationist with specialists in these languages provided the necessary breadth of expertise to carry out this multi-language research project and obtain cross-linguistically valid results and a holistic view of multiple language usage in context. Students were integral for participant recruitment, collection and coding of data and participated in all stages of analysis, interpretation and presentation, developing skills in each area through an apprenticeship-like process. Many students have transferred these skills to other research interests.
We digitally recorded, transcribed and archived one-hour conversational speech samples from speakers of six heritage languages in Toronto and pilot-tested methods for further corpus development. Variationist analyses produced quantitative descriptions of variable patterns in each language, showing where there was change and where there was maintenance of pronunciation, grammatical and vocabulary patterns across generations of Heritage Language speakers. In some cases, where a comparable corpus existed, we were able to compare directly to Homeland patterns. Our work to date shows, in general, that speakers quite consistently maintain the grammatical structures and vocabulary used in Homeland varieties, in contradiction to widely-held beliefs that language quickly “degrades” or is “bastardized” in immigrant communities, and in contrast to many studies published about heritage language usage in the USA. On the other hand, we see changes in one phonetic pattern (Voice Onset Time, or aspiration of word-initial consonants, a feature that distinguishes English from several of these Heritage Languages). Here, we find a correlation of the variable pronunciation pattern with speakers’ ethnic orientation: those who identify more strongly with the culture of the Homeland maintain Homeland-like pronunciation patterns, while those participants who identify more as “Canadian” tend to adopt a more English-like pronunciation of these sounds (while speaking the Heritage language). This ability to accommodate change within the language may well be one reason that Heritage Languages seem to be maintained better in Canada (at least in Toronto) than in the USA, contributing to Canada’s “mosaic” approach to multiculturalism.
As of October 2015, 68 talks and eight published papers reporting this work had been presented in 11 countries, including almost 30 student (co)authors. This project contributed to more than a dozen undergraduate independent study projects, three MA theses, 1 PhD Generals Paper, six student projects at European universities, and the development of two undergraduate and two graduate courses at U of T, plus some courses at the Centre of Language and Cognition Groningen (CLCG), University of Groningen.