A Hockey-Based Persona: The Sociolinguistic Impact of Canadian English on American-Born Hockey Players

Andrew Bray

University of Rochester

Friday, April 12, 2024
12:30 p.m.–2 p.m.

Lattimore 201

This talk presents an analysis of acoustic data taken from sociolinguistic interviews conducted with 20 American-born professional ice hockey players to establish if their speech has been significantly impacted by Canadian English (CanE) due to the historical importance of Canada on the identity of the sport. I evaluate the players’ adoption and usage of CanE vowel variants which are often absent in American English dialects including the Low-Back-Merger Shift, the lowering and retraction of the tongue in BIT, BET, and BAT, triggered by the Low-Back Merger of BOT and BOUGHT, Canadian raising, raising of the tongue in TIGHT and HOUSE before voiceless consonants, and the more monophthongal status of FACE and GOAT. The results demonstrate that the players produce variants that are largely inexplicable based on their regional dialects alone. Utilizing the framework of indexicality, I argue that the presence of these variants in the players’ speech suggests that they have gained indexical value linked entirely to the sport. This additional value allows hockey players to utilize these variants in the construction of a hockey-based linguistic persona.