Geolinguistic Patterns in a Vast Speech Community


  • J. K. Chambers


The Dialect Topography of Canada has reached a kind of plateau. After ten years of data-gathering, from 1992 to 2002, we have assembled large databases on language variants in regions across Canada. The databases are accessible at dialect. topography. chass. utoronto. ca. The website, constructed by Dr. Tony Pi, is free of charge and user-friendly, with tutorials and analytic aids.

We are not presently engaged in Dialect Topography surveys in other regions. In years to come, there will undoubtedly be more regional surveys and new surveys of the original regions, but the time gap between the existing ones and the ones that will follow entails that they will relate to one another not as additional contemporaneous surveys but as real-time comparisons.

In this article, I illustrate the breadth of coverage by investigating three geolinguistic patterns that have emerged from our research. I begin with a brief introduction to the methods and goals of Dialect Topography. In so doing, I cannot avoid noting a salubrious coincidence. The first public presentation on Dialect Topography took place at Universite de Moncton, at a meeting of the Atlantic Provinces Linguistic Association in 1992. The presentation on which this article is based, which represents a kind of stock-taking on what we have accomplished with Dialect Topography at this juncture, also took place at Universite de Moncton. That first presentation, fourteen years ago, resulted in an article that provided an introduction to Dialect Topography (Chambers 1994). That article is fuller and more discursive than space allows here, and I am pleased to refer readers to it to fill in any gaps I leave here. The "distance" between that first presentation and this one symbolically represents a huge investment of time and effort by a team of dedicated scholars.  Our bond comes not only from the many hours we spent working together but also in the shared belief that we have left behind a resource that has almost limitless potential.




How to Cite

Chambers, J. K. . (2007). Geolinguistic Patterns in a Vast Speech Community. Linguistica Atlantica, 27, 27–36. Retrieved from