INTERSECTIONS • October 22-25, 2015

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New Ways of Analyzing Variation 44: Intersections

The (Great Hall) bird has now flown. Thanks to everyone who was involved! You can still review the conference program (PDF), the abstracts, and the local orientation guide (PDF).

For future NWAV organizers, note that we have created a wiki on NWAV organization that is now up and running.

Upcoming NWAV conferences

NWAV Asia-Pacific 4: April 22-24, 2016
Location: Chiayi, Taiwan
Host: National Chung Cheng University
Theme: The interface between sociolinguistics and psycholinguistics

NWAV 45: November 3-6, 2016
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia
Hosts: Simon Fraser University and the University of Victoria
Theme: Pachan'tsut - Spreading Roots

NWAV 46: October 2017
Host: University of Wisconsin, Madison


Toronto is a large and (mostly) flat city that is criss-crossed by long and (mostly) straight major roadways. The urban grid functions as a sort of coordinate system; locals will tell you that if you've gone north of Steeles, you've left the city. Many neighbourhoods are as readily identified by prominent intersections as by their characteristics: Church and Wellesley, Bathurst and St. Clair, Yonge and Eglinton, Jane and Finch. In other senses, intersections play a role in the study of language variation and change. There are always the questions of how to divide up our data and of which cross-tabulations and interactions are meaningful when it comes to the interpretation. Social identity is also subject to intersectionality; the population can be split into subgroups according to any of the different social factors that we examine and then some. Variationist sociolinguistics itself lies at the crossroads of related subfields in linguistics and statistical modelling; interdisciplinary effort may yield new ideas and techniques. In all of these cases, the intersectional territory holds much to be learned. Co-hosted by the University of Toronto and York University, NWAV 44 probed the places where variation meets other subfields of linguistics.

Find other conferences in sociolinguistics on the Sociolinguistic Events Calendar.

Plenary Speakers

J. K. Chambers (University of Toronto)
Shana Poplack (University of Ottawa)

For more information on the plenary sessions, see the invited speakers page.

Variation at the Crossroads

NWAV 44 featured a special Variation at the Crossroads workshop, with five sessions specifically designed to cultivate cross-pollination of different interrelated fields of research. Each session had an invited plenary speaker - a world-class researcher whose cutting-edge research intersects with variation:

David Adger, Queen Mary University of London (syntactic theory)
Elizabeth Johnson, University of Toronto (child language acquisition)
Miriam Meyerhoff, Victoria University of Wellington (endangered language documentation)
Susan Pintzuk, University of York (historical linguistics and information structure)
Benedikt Szmrecsanyi, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (corpus linguistics)

William Labov (University of Pennsylvania) served as the workshop discussant. Collectively, we hope that these sessions have both deepened and broadened the questions that will occupy variationist sociolinguistics over the course of the next decade, and set the agenda for future research in the field.

For more information on the Variation at the Crossroads sessions, see the invited speakers page.

Thematic Sessions

Three additional themed sessions were held, with topics as follows:

• Short vowels in varieties of English
• Linguistic conservatism in heritage and diaspora varieties
• Le français en Ontario

More information about these sessions can be found on the workshops page.

Conference Venue

NWAV 44 was held in one of the most beautiful buildings on the main campus of the University of Toronto: Hart House. This neo-gothic student union constructed between 1911 and 1919 is considered the cultural and ceremonial centre of the campus.

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Last updated: April 10, 2016
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