Grammatical convergence or microvariation? Subject doubling in English in a French dominant town

Sali A. Tagliamonte, Bridget L. Jankowski


In French, subject doubling is “quite common” (e.g. Nadasdi 1995, Auger 1998, Thibault 1983, Zahler 2014) but in English it is rare (Southard & Muller 1998). Yet when anglophones speak French, they use subject doubling with French patterns (Nagy et al. 2003). In this paper, we analyze subject doubling in English in a bilingual French-English town. Usinga large corpus and statistical modelling, we show that thereis no difference between language groups, and neither sex, education nor job type are significant. The nature of the subject is the major predictor of doubling and there is a significant decrease among middle-aged speakers, suggesting mid-life social pressures on vernacular norms. Although subject doubling is low frequency, it is not stable across generations in the different language origin groups. While subject doubling may be a feature of vernacular dialects more generally, involving marking focus or topic marking as reported in other languages, in Kapuskasing when anglophones use it, they are accommodating to French patterns.


Subject doubling, convergence, Canadian English, North America, language change, language contact, Canadian French

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Copyright (c) 2019 Sali A. Tagliamonte, Bridget L. Jankowski

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