The Social Stratification of the Voiced Interdental /ð/ in the Battery Dialect
This study investigates the factors that contribute to the social stratification of /ð/in the small Newfoundland community outside of St. John’s, known as the Battery. Speech samples of 12 community members who are native to the Battery have been analyzed via Goldvarb X for their use of /ð/ and the commonly substituted [d] variant. In addition, the samples include responses to a questionnaire, which contain items that reflect concepts from Social Network Theory (Milroy 1976, 1982) and Social Identity Theory (Tajfel 1978) to further analyze the participants on social grounds. Social Network Theory and Social Identity Theory form the core of this study’s theoretical framework; it is believed that the former represents an objective and spatial notion of group affiliation, whereas the latter represents a more subjective and personal notion of affiliation.
In order to understand the dynamic social structure and dialect of the Battery community, the distinctiveness of Newfoundland as a province in the wider Canadian context will also be addressed. Newfoundland drastically differs from the rest of Canada through its historical, economical, geographical and social circumstances. It is no wonder, then, that its dialectal characteristics have enjoyed the same uniqueness based on these contributing factors. The use and stratification of /ð/ is the feature of interest in the current study based on its pervasive nature in Newfoundland speech but, most importantly, on its characterization as a low-status identity marker.