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LINGUIST List 20.467

Sat Feb 14 2009

Diss: Socioling: Brent: 'Canadian French: A synthesis'

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        1.    Edmond Brent, Canadian French: A synthesis

Message 1: Canadian French: A synthesis
Date: 13-Feb-2009
From: Edmond Brent <ebrentaei.ca>
Subject: Canadian French: A synthesis
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Institution: Cornell University
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 1971

Author: Edmond Brent

Dissertation Title: Canadian French: A synthesis

Linguistic Field(s): Sociolinguistics

Subject Language(s): French (fra)

Dissertation Director:
Charles F. Hockett
Gerald B. Kelley

Dissertation Abstract:

Various specialized studies of Canadian French have neither supplied an
overall description of the French spoken in the Province of Quebec, nor
settled the question of the quiddity of variation within Canadian French,
in particular the extent of geographically conditioned variation. The
present study addresses itself to both of these unresolved tasks.

A minimum of one speech sample was gathered in each of 30 sampling
rectangles of 1° degree longitude (50 miles) by 1° latitude (70 miles) in
the southern, densely populated area of the Province of Quebec; in the
sparsely settled areas to the north and west, at least one speech sample
per county was obtained. In many rectangles, the sampling was more
intensive. The localities most intensively investigated were Charette,
St-Maurice County, and Cap-St-Ignace, Montmagny County. Most of the samples
were sound recordings from the Archives of Folklore, Laval University,
supplemented by written field notes based on low pressure elicitation from
selected informants and eavesdropping without detailed identification of
informants. The data thus assembled, together with isolated studies
previously published, furnished the basis for an eclectic overall
structural description of Canadian French in contrast with Standard French
and, to a limited extent, Acadian French and Popular Parisian French.
Extensive first-hand experience and published social psychological research
were drawn upon for a description of secondary affective responses to
Canadian French.

As a result of a descriptive analysis of the samples obtained and of local
identification tests with native subjects, Canadian French, clearly
distinct from Acadian and Standard French, turned out to be relatively
homogeneous with respect to geographic variation. However, considerable
linguistic variation was observed not only within the same localities, but
also with the same speakers. To account for this internal linguistic
variation, a hierarchy of extralinguistic conditioning factors was
postulated. Though different with particular linguistic elements, these
factors were tentatively ordered by decreasing average importance as
follows: pragmatic factors (ethnolinguistic attitudes, situation, style),
social factors (age, socioeconomic status, education, degree of
urbanization), individual bilingualism and bidialectalism, historical
factors, geographic factors. Ethnolinguistic attitudes, largely correlating
with choice of linguistic variant, are regulated by a linguistic prestige
cline with English as the highest and Acadian French as the lowest
constituents and Standard French and Canadian French located in between in
decreasing strength of prestige. Collective bilingualism and high prestige
accorded to English have resulted in widespread English influence on
Canadian French, both overt in loanwords and covert in loanshifts and
borrowing of English semantic structure affecting forms ostensibly French
in pronunciation and morphology.

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