Phonological Variables in a New England French Speech Community

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Phonological Variables in a New England French Speech Community


From the author: "The first section of the present study consists of a historical survey of the Franco-American community, examining those factors, such as the existence of a network of bilingual parochial schools, which were significant for language maintenance efforts. It is observed that French/English bilingualism in New England has seriously declined in the last twenty years, and that organized attempts to provide for its survival are now limited primarily to the state of Maine. The second section of this study specifies the lexical, morphological and syntactic characteristics which distinguish New England French (NEF) from Standard French (SF), based on a corpus of written and oral documents of recent origin. The results obtained are compared with those reported in studies of Canadian French, and in earlier studies of NEF. It is shown that no structural innovations have emerged in NEF which are not also attested in Canadian and other popular varieties of French. The influence of English is primarily restricted to the borrowing of words, but the use of anglicisms is often subject to ridicule. Systematic change in NEF tends to be in the direction of convergence with SF. Synchronically, a continuum of speech style is observed, whose lower or informal levels are characterized by features shared with the French of rural Québec, and whose higher or more formal levels are characterized by corresponding features of SF....The third section consists of an analysis of the present state of the phonology of NEF, and is based on a corpus collected in interviews with six informants in Manchester, New Hampshire. Sixteen phonological rules are formulated, defining elements which distinguish NEF from SF. It is shown that some of these features are being lost as NEF incorporates standard elements. Many of these elements which are avoided in formal speech situations by speakers with more exposure to SF, however, tend to occur frequently or predominantly in less formal situations. The sixteen phonological processes are subjected to partial ordering in terms of an implicational scale, according to whether they are more or less resistant to change. It is shown that those processes which entail only superficial (phonetic) differences between NEF and SF are more likely to be retained, while those processes which entail underlying (morphophonemic) differences are more likely to be lost."


Kelley, Henry Edward




en; fr





1970-1980; Manchester, New Hampshire

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Ithaca, New York

Thesis Type

Ph. D., Linguistics


Cornell University

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