Why are wasteyutes a ting?

University of Pennsylvania


This paper examines lexical enregisterment through TH/DH-stopping in Multicultural Toronto English (MTE), a multiethnolect emergent in the Greater Toronto Area. Sociolinguistic interview data from young MTE speakers reveals an overall ~10% rate of stopping, with teenage males being the primary stoppers. However, despite the presence of stopping in the vernacular of most speakers, certain terms referring to character archetypes - e.g. wasteyutes, mandem - have become sites of enregisterment of TH/DH-stopping in MTE rather than enregisterment of stopping in more frequent words or of stopping itself. We argue that this is because these lexical items implement reflexive tropes, as speakers thought to be stoppers are those who might be labeled wasteyutes or mandem: young, male, suburban, typically non-white, and typically low status. As such, performance of these stereotypical personae fosters indexical linking between sound (TH/DH-stopping) and culturally salient identities (wasteyutes, mandem), cementing enregisterment of these terms in MTE.