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Abralin ao Vivo online seminar: Ethnolectal Variation In Real Time: Ethnicity, Gender and Class In Sydney, Australia, Catherine Travis, 14 July

Catherine Travis, Outreach, Sydney Speaks

Date: 20 June 2021

Abralin ao Vivo: Ethnolectal Variation In Real Time: Ethnicity, Gender and Class In Sydney, Australia

Presenter: Catherine Travis

When: 14 July 2021, 8am AEST

Where: online


Ethnicity has been a long-standing factor in the study of language variation, and there has been great interest in the role of ethnic minorities in language change. In Australia, we are in an ideal position to address this thanks to foundational work conducted by Barbara Horvath in the 1970s and 1980s, on the English of Anglo-, Greek-, and Italian-Australians (Horvath 1985, Variation in Australian English, CUP). Here, I present a real-time test of the role of ethnicity by studying the sociolinguistic interview data collected by Horvath in conjunction with comparable recordings made in the 2010s with Anglo-, Chinese, and Italian-Australians.

Analyses of a set of variables reveal that in some instances, ethnic minorities lead in change, in others they lag, and in others they proceed in parallel with the majority Anglo community. Ethnic orientation is found to play a minor role, and the effect of ethnicity is best seen in interaction with age, gender and social class. Ethnolectal variation thus appears to be less a marker of ethnic heritage per se, being driven instead by affiliations to the broader community.

  • Australian Government
  • The University of Queensland
  • Australian National University
  • The University of Melbourne
  • Western Sydney University