Derek Denis

Derek Denis

Assistant Professor, Linguistics Undergraduate Program Coordinator
Language Studies

My research primarily focuses on Canadian English. My early work investigated earlier Canadian English using archival oral history recordings in an effort to understand a previous stage of Ontario English. My current work looks toward the future. I ask questions about how the many languages spoken by Torontonians may come to influence Toronto English. I typically take a variationist sociolinguistic approach in my work and have been using this methodology to document a Multicultural Toronto English. More recently I have become interested in how through the intersection of ideologies of language, race, gender, and place non-normative language practice comes to be prestigious and desirable.

Areas of Academic Interest

  • Sociolinguistics
  • Language variation and change
  • Language contact, colonialism, and new dialect formation
  • Formal approaches to sociolinguistic variation
  • Covert prestige, language ideologies, and masculinity

Grants, Fellowships & Awards

  • Connaught New Research Award. University of Toronto. (2018-2020)
  • Audrey Duckert Memorial Award for early career researchers. American Dialect Society. (2016)
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship. SSHRC. (2015-2017)
PhD, University of Toronto, Department of Linguistics, 2015
MA, University of Toronto, Department of Linguistics, 2009
H.BA., University of Toronto, 2008


Publications since 2020


Essentials of Linguistics, Second edition. 2022 Toronto: eCampusOntario. With Anderson, Catherine, Bronwyn Bjorkman, Julianne Doner, Meg Grant, Nathan Sanders, and Ai Taniguchi.

Journal articles

Exploring the vowel space of Multicultural Toronto English. 2022. Accepted for publication in Journal of English Linguistics. With Vidhya Elango, Nur Sakinah Nor Kamal, Srishti Prashar, and Maria Velasco.

American Speech, settler colonialism, and a view from the place currently called Canada. 2022. American Speech 97(1): 44–50. With Alexandra D'Arcy.

Raptors vs. Bucktees: The Somali influence on Toronto Slang. 2021. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 42(6): 565–578.

How Canadian was eh? A baseline investigation of usage and ideology. 2020. Canadian Journal of Linguistics 65(4): 583–592.

Be like and the Constant Rate Effect: From the bottom to the top of the S-curve. 2020. English Language and Linguistics 25(2): 281–324. Matt Hunt Gardner, Marisa Brook, and Sali A. Tagliamonte. 

Book chapters

Ontario English: Loyalists and beyond. To appear in New Cambridge History of the English Language Volume V: English in North America and the Caribbean. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. With Bridget Jankowski and Sali A. Tagliamonte.

Linguistic variation in Canadian English. To appear in Kingsley Bolton (ed.) Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of World Englishes. Oxford: Wiley.

Variation and change in discourse-pragmatics. To appear in Yoshiyuki Asahi, Alexandra D’Arcy, and Paul Kerswill (eds.) Routledge Handbook of Variationist Sociolinguistics. Oxfordshire: Routledge. 

Uh, what do we count? 2022. In Elizabeth Peterson, Turo Hiltunen, and Joseph Kern (eds.) Discourse-Pragmatic Variation and Change: Theory, innovations, contact. Cambridge University Press. With Timothy Gadanidis.

Reflexes of abruptness in the development of pragmatic markers. In Elizabeth Peterson, Turo Hiltunen, and Joseph Kern (eds.) Discourse-Pragmatic Variation and Change: Theory, innovations, contact. Cambridge University Press.

Book reviews

Book Review: Creating Canadian English: The professor, the mountaineer, and a national variety of English by Stefan Dollinger. 2021. Journal of English Linguistics. 49(4): 478–483. 

Conference Proceedings

Fom and friends: Variable prenasal /æ/ laxing in Multicultural Toronto English. 2022. Proceedings of the 2021 Canadian Linguistic Association. With Vidhya Elango.

Why are wasteyutes a ting? 2020. Selected Papers from NWAV 48. UPenn Working Papers in Linguistics. With Lauren Bigelow, Timothy Gadandis, Pocholo Umbal and Lisa Schlegl.


SSHRC Insight Development Grant 2020-2024, 'Multicultural Toronto English: ideologies and identity'; Connaught New Researcher Award 2018-2023, 'New dialect formation in a neighbourhood of first arrival'

Multicultural Toronto English, settler colonial Englishes, grammaticalization, enregisterment
Research Support


Language variation and change
Sociocultural linguistics
Canadian English
Toronto English
Current Courses
LIN101, LIN256, LIN318, LIN357, JAL355, LIN458 (Sociolinguistics, English World-wide, Language and Gender, Talking Numbers)