Just accepted to Canadian Journal of Linguistics: a jointly-authored paper with Gillian Sankoff titled “The long tail of language change: A trend and panel study of Quebeçois futures.” We hope it will appear in 2020. Here’s the abstract:
A previous longitudinal panel study of 59 speakers of Montréal French (Wagner & Sankoff 2011) showed an increase in inflected futures (IF) at the expense of periphrastic futures (PF) as this population aged, running counter to the direction of historical change: reduction of IF. Matching two samples of speakers across the same time interval by age and social characteristics, the current trend study investigates whether or not this increase reflects retrograde change in the speech community. Results show community stability over the same period, confirming the earlier age grading interpretation and disconfirming any possibility that the disappearance of IF may be reversing. We propose that this pattern of retrograde lifespan change may emerge from a combination of social forces typically found in late stages of language change, with concomitant stylistic effect. Further, such a pattern may suggest the mechanism that creates a very long tail for retreating variants.
This paper is the culmination of a long and wonderful collaboration with Gillian, which began when I was a graduate student. We’ve also looked (with Pierrette Thibault) at avoir-être alternations in the Montreal French passé composé, which Gillian reports on in a recent paper in the journal Language.