Languages in the Prairies Project (LIPP)

Bloc settlement patterns and non-Anglophone immigration into the Canadian Prairies, beginning in the late 19th century have resulted in a linguistic landscape which looks quite different from that of Ontario and the Maritimes.  The goal of the LIPP is to illustrate where and how Prairies English speakers fit into this matrix of Canadian English speakers. It examines differences between the generally studied, Standard Canadian English (SCE) spoken in urban centres and Canadian English as spoken in more rural areas, taking into account sociological variables representative of the geographical situation, namely rurality and ethnic and/or religious background, including possible language transfer effects from L2 learners of English who settled in the region. The groups we have already interviewed or are currently interviewing include Filipinos in Winnipeg, Mormons in Southern Alberta, Mennonites in Southern Manitoba. We have also interviewed individuals in Lethbridge, and Calgary in Alberta and in the Winkler area of Manitoba.

At this point in the project, we have over 150 people interviewed. For each speaker, we have collected 3 soundfiles: a word list collected for phonetic analysis based on Boberg (2008), a reading passage (The Wind and the Sun), and a sociolinguistic interview. We are also collecting responses to an ethnicity and identity questionnaire. We are currently transcribing the interviews, and completing the segmentation of the word lists to ready them for phonetic analysis. I.e., we are in the midst of data collection and preparation. This is a team effort, and students work together on various pieces of the project, contributing to the whole.

It is hoped that this research will break new ground in the study of Canadian English, as the bulk of sociolinguistic work in Canada takes place in urban areas or Newfoundland. This would be the first large-scale project to investigate English in the prairies in a systematic, principled way. It will give us a picture of the rural landscape in Canada, as well as further our knowledge of Canadian patterns as a whole. It builds on existing sociolinguistic approaches, but new methodologies are necessary given the different social landscape. Religion arguably plays a more important role in Southern Alberta than elsewhere in Canada, leading us to investigate the possibility of distinctive religious communities being distinctive speech communities. Furthermore, the oil industry in Alberta has changed typical socioeconomic patterns, where wealth is not correlated to education in the same way as elsewhere, necessitating somewhat different methodologies when compiling our data.

This project is currently being funded by my Canada Research Chair in Language Interactions. It has been generously funded in the past by the Office of Research Services, University of Lethbridge through ULRF, CREDO and ISG grants.

So far, there have been a number of conference papers and one article published on this corpus, with several in development. Here are a selected few:

  • There’s a New Ethnolect in Town: Vowel Patterning of Filipino English in Winnipeg
    (Nicole Rosen, Sky Onosson, Lanlan Li)

  • Canadian Shift in Southern Alberta. Paper presented at NWAV 43. (Melissa Heinrichs and Nicole Rosen)

  • Vowel patterning of Mormons in Southern Alberta, Canada.  Language & Communication 42 (2015) 104–115 . (Nicole Rosen and Crystal Skriver))
  • Three variants of ING in Southern Alberta English. Manuscript in preparation. With Jillian Ankutowicz and Alex D’Arcy.)
  • A comparison of rhythmic differences between Blackfoot English and Southern Alberta English. Manuscript in preparation. (with Jillian Ankutowicz, Taylor Pekter, Inge Genee & Jennifer Shapka)

Anyone interested in contributing to this project are encouraged to contact me at the address below. At this point we would still like to interview long-time Calgarians for the corpus.


Prairie French



Cree Linguistic Atlas