LINGUIST List 13.874

Fri Mar 29 2002

Diss: Sociolinguistics: Moisset "Variable Liaison..."

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  1. moisset, Sociolinguistics: Moisset "Variable Liaison in Parisian French"

Message 1: Sociolinguistics: Moisset "Variable Liaison in Parisian French"

Date: Thu, 28 Mar 2002 21:38:44 +0000
From: moisset <>
Subject: Sociolinguistics: Moisset "Variable Liaison in Parisian French"

New Dissertation Abstract

Institution: University of Pennsylvania
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2000

Author: Christine Moisset 

Dissertation Title: 
Variable Liaison in Parisian French

Linguistic Field: Discourse Analysis, Sociolinguistics

Subject Language: French

Dissertation Director 1: Gillian Sankoff
Dissertation Director 2: Eugene Buckley
Dissertation Director 3: Henriette Walter

Dissertation Abstract: 

This dissertation examines stylistic variation in variable liaison
(VL) among middle class speakers of Parisian French. The realization
of variable liaison is sensitive to both linguistic and
extralinguistic factors. Previous empirical studies demonstrated that
there is intraspeaker variation (Encreve) and sensitivity to style
(Agren) in the production of VL. These studies were based on rather
formal speech, political speeches and television and radio
broadcasts. This research expands prior knowledge about VL, including
the status of variable liaison in less formal contexts and the range
of intraspeaker variation. The cornerstone of the methodology is the
recordings of the speech of 14 Parisians in different social contexts.
These recordings garnered over 11,500 tokens of potential VL which
were coded for four linguistic factors--consonant type, segment
preceding the liaison consonant, length of the word containing the
liaison consonant and grammatical category. Gender, age, style, and
addressee are the four extralinguistic factors which are analyzed.
Style includes vernacular, formal speech and reading. Addressee has
three categories--relatives, friends and audience. Using Goldsearch
and Goldvarb, the data are analyzed quantitatively. The results show
interspeaker variation of 25% and a remarkably high intraspeaker
variation which reached 61%. With regard to linguistic factors, the
results concur with previous studies: the consonant type, the length
and the grammatical category of the word containing the liaison
consonant influence the realization of liaison. For example,
prepositions and pronouns demonstrate high rates of liaison. In
contrast, verbs have the lowest rate, but show the most stylistic
stratification. Extralinguistic factors vary in their effects on
VL. Gender is not significant, but style is, as seen in the high
percentage of intraspeaker variation. Age, is the most complex of the
extralinguistic variables with the oldest age group showing a more
limited range of variation and a higher rate of liaison than the two
younger groups. The data demonstrate that VL is a stable variable that
displays some age-grading. The study also provides an overview of the
type of errors made by native speakers and learners of French as a
second language, and it examines the 87 false liaisons found in the

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