‘It's so cute how they talk’: Stylized Italian English as sociolinguistic maintenance

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Abstract

In a downtown Border City, Ontario coffee shop, I interviewed Carlo, an Italian-Canadian man in his late 50s. He explained that his children, who are in their 20s, do not demonstrate much productive use of Italian, but that they have maintained the language in that they understand their grandparents' Italian and can imitate their Italian-accented English. I refer to the linguistic phenomenon that Carlo mentions as Stylized Italian English (SIE), which is the primary focus of this paper.

This paper begins with a brief ethnographic and linguistic background of the community and participants. I then explore specific features of Stylized Italian English as it is used in multigenerational family interactions, showing that second and third generation family members use SIE to index Italianness. Finally, I discuss SIE within larger contexts of language shift and maintenance and language contact research.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55-62
Number of pages8
JournalEnglish Today
Volume26
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2010

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