Contact varieties are often compared to an imagined, invariant non-contact variety. In this talk, I will show that variable patterns, as well as fixed features, exist in the homeland variety and may be transmitted (as defined by Labov 2011) to the heritage variety. The language varieties compared are Homeland Faetar, an endangered Francoprovençal variety spoken in Apulia (southern Italy) by fewer than 700 speakers, and Heritage Faetar, spoken by ~200 immigrants (and their children) in Toronto, Canada.
As a "warm-up," patterns of lexical variation between Francoprovençal-source words and Italian-sourced words is compared between the two varieties (Nagy 2011), showing diatopic consistency. Then, variationist analyses of two related phenomena involving subject pronouns are contrasted. First, I will summarize the results of several studies of "pro-drop" (variable subject pronoun presence) in Faetar (Nagy & Heap 1998; Iannozzi 2015; Nagy, Iannozzi & Heap fc.). Pro-drop is a conflict site (Poplack et al. 2012): it distinguishes Italian, English, and Faetar grammars. While subject pronouns may be present or absent in finite clauses in all 3 languages, rates of presence differ, possibly due to differing language ecologies in the two sites. Moreover, different constraints govern the distribution of forms in each language, making this variable instrumental in understanding the effects of language contact. However, Homeland Faetar, in contact with Italian in Apulia from some 700 years, and Heritage Faetar, in contact with English in Toronto for ~ 70 years, show surprisingly similar patterns of variation.
The consistency in pro-drop patterns between Homeland and Heritage Faetar is then contrasted with differences in the rates and constraints on subject doubling, again comparing Heritage and Homeland Faetar speakers (Pabst et al. 2017). Here, we see a different situation: subject doubling is grammatically constrained in the Homeland variety: speakers favor doubling in new information contexts, similar to speakers of European French (Barnes, 1985). Age is also significant for the Homeland speakers: as age increases, the likelihood of subject doubling decreases; suggesting a change in progress in Homeland Faetar. However, no factors - social or linguistic - emerge as significant for the Heritage speakers, indicating that while they have acquired the surface structure of the variation, Heritage Faetar speakers have not acquired its grammatical constraints.
The data for these 3 comparisons come from spontaneous speech recorded during sociolinguistic interviews with 21 Homeland speakers (recorded 1992-1994) and 14 Heritage speakers (recorded 2009-2011).
Barnes, B. K. 1985. The pragmatics of left-detachment in spoken Standard French. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Iannozzi, M. 2015. Pro-drop in Faetar in Canada: A study of a heritage language in contact. Western Papers in Linguistics 2. http://ir.lib.uwo.ca/wpl_clw/vol1/iss2/5.
Labov, W. 2011. Transmission and diffusion. Language 83.2: 344-387.
Nagy, N. 2011. Lexical Change and Language Contact: Faetar in Italy and Canada. Journal of Sociolinguistics 15:366-382.
Nagy, N. & D. Heap. 1998. Francoprovençal null subject and constraint interaction. In M. C. Gruber, D. Higgins, K.S. Olson & T. Wysocki (eds.), CLS 34: The Panels. Chicago: Chicago Linguistic Society; 34.2:151-166.
Nagy, N., Iannozzi, M. & Heap, D. (forthcoming). Faetar null subjects: A variationist study of a heritage language in contact. In. J. Kasstan & N. Nagy (eds), Francoprovençal: Documenting a contact variety in Europe and North America. Special issue of International Journal of the Sociology of Language.
Pabst, K., L. Konnelly, S Meslin, F. Wilson & N. Nagy. 2017. Transmission of variation between Homeland and Heritage Faetar", NWAV 46, November 4, 2017.
Poplack, S., L. Zentz & N. Dion. 2012. Phrase-final prepositions in Quebec French: An empirical study of contact, code-switching and resistance to convergence. Bilingualism: Language & Cognition 15.2:203-225.