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DANL (The Online Dialect Atlas of Newfoundland and Labrador English)

Researchers

Sandra Clarke (Linguistics); Philip Hiscock (Folklore); Robert Hollett (English); Alvin Simms (Geography)

Personnel

Chris Boyce (GIS specialist and web designer)

Project description

While the unique lexicon of Newfoundland and Labrador is captured in the Dictionary of Newfoundland English, information on the regional distribution of its linguistic features is largely lacking. The aim of the DANL project is to document the spatial distribution of traditional features of lexicon, phonology and morphology within the province, in the form of an online interactive dialect atlas accessible to both scholars and the general public.

DANL will map data originally assembled under the direction of linguist Harold Paddock, based on interviews and conversations tape-recorded with conservative older rural speakers from c. 1960 to 1982. Its phonetic/morphosyntactic component yields information on the distribution of 65 features in 72 coastal Newfoundland communities; its lexical component documents responses to a 566-item questionnaire from 126 speakers in 21 representative communities throughout the province.

Phase I of the project, the extraction of data from the taped corpus and its integration into a relational database, is complete. Phase II – the application of a GIS program, AspMap, to enable web display of features in the form of maps, tables and graphs – is ongoing. A final phase will enable the incorporation of data from other NL sources, as well as from online users, along with audio segments illustrating pronunciation features. Patterns of spatial distribution revealed by Phase II yield insights not only into patterns of linguistic diffusion within Newfoundland and Labrador, but also into the province’s settlement history, and the degree of contact among regional populations.

DANL will join the small number of existing web-based linguistic resources that document the geographical distribution of words, pronunciations and grammatical forms in the English-speaking world. Its production has been facilitated by financial support from the J.R. Smallwood Foundation for Newfoundland and Labrador Studies, as well as Memorial’s Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER).

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