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New dialect formation


The term new dialect formation refers to a linguistic situation which arises when there is a mixture of dialects leading to a single new dialect which is different from all inputs. In the context of New Zealand, for instance, new dialect formation took place after initial immigration of speakers from different regions of the British Isles. This was a process of dialect mixture in which, over just a few generations, a clearly focussed variety arose which was then fairly uniform and distinct from any other existing varieties of the language in question.

Many scholars postulate that this type of dialect formation took place at many locations and have examined the rise of overseas varieties from this perspective, see Dollinger (2008) as a recent example discussing early Canadian English. Schneider (2003) in his examination of postcolonial English deal with the issue as well. The New Dialect Formation model has also been applied to analysing non-standard varieties within Britain, see Britain and Trudgill (2005).

The following is a link to a PDF text file which examines the concept of New Dialect Formation in the New Zealand context in detail.

New Dialect Formation (Hickey, 2003)



Britain, David and Peter Trudgill 2005. ‘New dialect formation and contact-induced reallocation: three case studies from the Fens’, International Journal of English Studies 5.1: 183-209.

Dollinger, Stefan 2008. New-Dialect Formation in Canada. Evidence from the English modal auxiliaries. Amsterdam: Benjamins.

Hickey, Raymond 2003. ‘How do dialects get the features they have? On the process of new dialect formation’, in Raymond Hickey (ed.) Motives for language change. Cambridge: University Press, pp. 213-39.

Schneider, Edgar 2007. Postcolonial English. Varieties around the World. Cambridge: University Press.

Trudgill, Peter 1986. Dialects in Contact. Oxford: Blackwell.

Trudgill, Peter 2004. New Dialect Formation: The Inevitability of Colonial Englishes. Edinburgh: University Press.