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«by Lisa M. Del Torto A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Linguistics) in The ...»

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Lisa M. Del Torto

A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment

of the requirements for the degree of

Doctor of Philosophy


in The University of Michigan

Doctoral Committee:

Associate Professor Robin M. Queen, Chair

Professor Judith T. Irvine

Professor Sarah G. Thomason

Associate Professor Anne L. Curzan

© Lisa M. Del Torto All rights reserved


This dissertation would not have been possible without the encouragement, support, and guidance of many individuals and institutions. First, I would like to thank my dissertation committee for their continued interest in my research. Robin Queen, the chair of my dissertation committee and my advisor and mentor for many years, read and provided constructive feedback on several iterations of each piece of this research. Robin always encouraged me to make my work my own by guiding me with challenging questions, rather than answers, and giving me the freedom to make choices. Sally Thomason, always generous with her time and brainstorming, provided significant guidance in rethinking shift and maintenance and the implications and contributions of this work. Her patience and keen interest when meeting with me to discuss my half-formulated notions of shift and maintenance always reminded me to be excited about my work. Anne Curzan generously spent time reading several drafts of the data chapters and helping me through the writing process. Anne constantly reminded me that a dissertation is a dissertation; this did not have to be the last word I would ever write on this topic, nor did it have to be a life’s work. Judy Irvine’s influence on this research began before I had even formulated the questions. This dissertation would not have been possible without Judy’s contribution to my training in linguistics.

Other faculty and staff in the Department of Linguistics provided much-needed support and encouragement. Lesley Milroy, Rusty Barrett, and John Swales influenced the early stages of this dissertation. Many of my first thoughts about the community and linguistic phenomena were borne out of discussions with Lesley. I am thankful for the intellectual and financial support of the Linguistics Graduate Committee, especially Sam Epstein, Deborah Keller-Cohen, Julie Boland, and Department Chair Pam Beddor. Sylvia Suttor has been a patient, cheerful, and pragmatic Student Services Assistant and friend, and has helped me navigate many an application for employment and fellowship support. I am grateful for the assistance and kindness of the Linguistics Department support staff, Patti Kardia, Kristen McLeod, Sandie Petee, Karon Plummer, Sue Suslee, and Sara Weir.

The staff at the University of Michigan Language Resource Center helped me with data management, audio conversion, and technological crises. The technical expertise of Phill Cameron and Jan Stewart were invaluable. The Language Resource Center, the Digital Media Commons at the Duderstadt Center, Robin Queen, and the Phonetics Lab loaned me recording equipment for use during my fieldwork period. Dylan Wright and the staff at the Knowledge Navigation Center helped format this document. Sarah Goodwin, of the English Language Institute, tirelessly and thoroughly proofread the manuscript.

ii I have many friends and colleagues to thank among the Linguistics graduate students, especially Katherine Chen, Cati Fortin, Jennifer Nguyen, and Hamid Ouali. I appreciate their camaraderie and support. I would like to acknowledge my friends and colleagues Rizwan Ahmad and Sai Samant for their personal and professional support, encouragement, and companionship over the last six years. Our weekly meetings and countless hours of brainstorming and discussion (and arguments) grace many pages of this dissertation. Sai read and provided critical commentary on the entire manuscript, in record time. Sai was always gracious about our recorder-sharing situation, and when sharing was no longer a possibility, she took it upon herself to lug the big recorder around in a backpack so I could use the smaller one!

I am grateful to the Sociodiscourse discussion group and many conference audiences for their thoughtful comments on many presentations that influenced this dissertation. My Multilingua co-contributors, Holly Cashman, Ashley Williams, Helena Bani-Shoraka, Katherine Chen, and Tim Greer, helped me think through part of the data and analysis that would become Chapter 4 of this dissertation. I would like to thank them for their insightful comments, and providing a forum to publish my work.

The Academic Ladder Writing Club was a saving grace during most of the year it took me to write this manuscript. The encouragement and accountability provided by coaches Gina Hiatt, Jayne London, and Martha Bari, and my writing club partners pushed me to write this dissertation one word at a time.

This dissertation has been funded by generous grants from the University of Michigan Department of Linguistics, the Rackham Graduate School, and Joe and Iole Del Torto.

The various jobs I have held over the last six years have also funded my dissertation research. I would like to thank Robin Queen, the Departments of Linguistics and English, the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching, the Language Resource Center, and the Sweetland Writing Center for providing me gainful employment at various stages of my graduate school career.

Many friends and family members have supported (and been affected by) my Ph.D. work.

I want to thank Dylan Wright for taking this journey with me, and being there every step of the way, whether or not he knew what he was getting himself into. Dylan’s patience, kindness, and technical support were especially valuable during the two-month period when I submitted the defense draft, defended the dissertation, and filed the final manuscript. I am grateful to the Branch family for their encouragement, care, and firm confidence. My dear friend Lara Kauffmann-Hoffer always reminded me to take some time to laugh and enjoy life. I owe immense gratitude to my parents, Joe and Iole Del Torto, for their unwavering emotional, intellectual, and financial support. They stimulated the curiosity about language and family interaction that underlies all of my academic work. Their example has been a constant source of inspiration in this test of perseverance.

Above all, I want to thank the participants. They have influenced every page of this dissertation and almost every academic thought I have had over the course of creating iii this work. They generously dedicated their time, opened their homes, prepared meals, welcomed me warmly, let me invade their families, introduced me to their friends, and took a keen interest in my work. Best of all, they treated me as one of their own by recognizing there was more to my relationships with them than my research dictated.

They are exceptional and I could not have asked to work with a better group of people. I have made many life-long friends in the process of fieldwork, and for that I am eternally thankful.







1.0. Introduction

1.1. Overview of the community and the setting

1.2. Research overview

1.2.1. Shift and maintenance: pressures, processes, system

1.3. Existing literature and theoretical positioning

1.3.1. The language situation of Italians in Canada

1.3.2. Language shift and maintenance

1.3.3. Identities in multilingual interaction

1.3.4. Language ideologies

1.4. Organization of the dissertation


2.0. Introduction

2.1. Objectives

2.2. Methodological concerns

2.2.1. Data, data collection, and participants

2.2.2. The role of the researcher

2.2.3. Fieldwork challenges

2.2.4. Data transcription and analysis

2.3. Ethnographic concerns

2.3.1. Situating the research: Border City and Italian-Canadian institutions as provisions for cultural and linguistic maintenance

2.3.2. Standard Italian and Ciociaro varieties and levels of differentiation..............62 2.3.3. Generation and generalization

2.3.4. Family as an institution and unit of analysis

2.4. Timeliness of the research


3.0. Introduction

3.1. Objectives

3.2. Analysis of metalinguistic data

3.2.1. Cultural practice, sociolinguistic norms, linguistic knowledge, and language use

3.2.2. Personal naming and dual pressures

v 3.2.3. The multiplicities of Italian-Canadian identity

3.3. Discussion and conclusion


4.0. Introduction

4.1. Objectives

4.2. Ethnographic background on interpreting in the participant community............121

4.3. Interpretation and translation as brokering activities: previous research.............126

4.4. Interactional data and analysis

4.4.1. Conversational dimensions of family interpreting: triggered interpreting....130 Word search Direct requests for clarification Resolving dispreferred conversational sequencing

4.4.2. Conversational dimensions of family interpreting: non-triggered interpreting

4.4.3. Social and relational dimensions of family interpreting Asserting roles, defining relationships, brokering, and cooperation......141 Self interpretation Generational variation: Generalization and exceptions Symbolic maintenance and socialization among the youngest generation Ambiguous switching

4.5. Discussion and conclusion



5.0. Introduction

5.1. Objectives

5.2. Descriptive introduction to the linguistic phenomena

5.2.1. SIE

5.2.2. Emblematic insertion

5.3. Theoretical framework and previous literature

5.4. Analysis of interactional data

5.4.1. Piggybacking

5.4.2. SIE as quoted speech

5.4.3. Non-imitative SIE and emblematic insertion

5.4.4. SIE and emblematic insertion as socialization

5.5. Summary and conclusion


6.0 Introduction and objectives

6.1. Summary and integrated findings

6.2. Theoretical implications and contributions

6.3. Suggestions for future research

6.4. Conclusion



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