African Nova Scotian English

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African Nova Scotian English
RegionNova Scotia (primary), diaspora populations in New Brunswick and Greater Toronto Area
Language codes
ISO 639-3

African Nova Scotian English (ANSE and ANSD) is a variety of the English language spoken by descendants of black immigrants from the United States who live in Nova Scotia, Canada. Members of these communities are collectively known as Black Nova Scotians.[1]

Though most African American freedom seekers in Canada ended up in Ontario through the Underground Railroad, only the dialect of African Nova Scotians retains the influence of West African pidgin.[2] In the 19th century, African Nova Scotian English would have been indistinguishable from English spoken in Jamaica or Suriname.[3] However, it has been increasingly de-creolized since this time, due to interaction and influence from the white Nova Scotian population, who mostly hail from the British Isles. Desegregation of the province's school boards in 1964 further accelerated the process of de-creolization. The language is a relative of the African-American Vernacular English, with significant variations unique to the group's history in the area.[4][5] There are noted differences in the dialects of those from Guysborough County (Black Loyalists), and those from North Preston (Black Refugees), the Guysborough group having been in the province three generations earlier.[5]

Howe & Walker (2000) use data from early recordings of African Nova Scotian English, Samaná English, and the recordings of former slaves to demonstrate that speech patterns were inherited from nonstandard colonial English.[6] The dialect was extensively studied in 1992 by Shana Poplack and Sali Tagliamonte from the University of Ottawa.[5]

A commonality between African Nova Scotian English and African American Vernacular English is (r)-deletion. This rate of deletion is 57% among Black Nova Scotians, and 60% among African Americans in Philadelphia. Meanwhile, in the surrounding mostly white communities of Nova Scotia, (r)-deletion does not occur. The exception to this is the non-rhotic dialect of Lunenburg English.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bishop, Henry (April 15, 2006). Historic Black Nova Scotia (Images of Our Past). Nimbus Publishing. ISBN 1551095513.
  2. ^ Clarke, George Elliott. Odysseys home : mapping African-Canadian literature. University of Toronto Press. ISBN 978-0802081919.
  3. ^ Clarke, Sandra (1993). "Focus on Canada". Amsterdam ; Philadelphia : J. Benjamins Pub. Co. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  4. ^ Mufwene, Salikoko S.; Bailey, Guy; Rickford, John R.; Baugh, John (1998). African-American English: Structure, History, and Use. Psychology Press. ISBN 9780415117333.
  5. ^ a b c Tagliamonte, Sali; Poplack, Shana (1991). "African American English in the diaspora: Evidence from old-line Nova Scotians". Language Variation and Change. 3 (3): 301–339. doi:10.1017/S0954394500000594. ISSN 1469-8021.
  6. ^ Howe & Walker (2000), p. 110.
  7. ^ Walker, James (October 1995). "The /r/-ful Truth about African Nova Scotian English" (PDF). Retrieved 18 March 2019. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)