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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Le parler français qub̈écois le parler français plus ... ou moins? : analyse sociolinguistique des niveaux de langue en franco-québécois Sloan, Darla Dawn


The advent of sociolinguistics has engendered a change in the general attitude towards linguistic evolution. Once seen as evidence of the erosion of a language, linguistic variation is now understood to be essential to the survival of a language. Those languages which can adapt to a wide range of ever-changing social contexts are best suited to thrive in today's technologically based societies. In other words, it is not historical "purity" but rather sociolinguistic diversity which best predicts a idiom's chances for survival. It is these social criteria that we used in our investigation into the state of the French language in Quebec. Our aim was to challenge the long standing belief that since the British Conquest of 1760, the sociolinguistic climate of North America is such that the variety of French spoken in Quebec is merely a "popular" version of European French that has as a result of years of isolation from France evolved into an independent and impoverished language. After examining, in each of the preliminary chapters of the present study, two sociolinguistic issues that have greatly affected linguistic evolution in Quebec - namely the evolution of the linguistic consciousness of Quebecers and the evolution of the concept of "standard language" - we hypothesised that because today's generation of Quebecers tend to have a more acute linguistic consciousness than did their predecessors, they are better prepared to defend their language by extending its uses and thus ensuring that Canadian French continues to meet the sociolinguistic demands of modern society. In the third chapter, we attempted to gather empirical linguistic data to support this hypothesis. Because we were endeavouring to determine the state of Quebec French, that is, whether or not the variety of French spoken by Quebecers is sociolinguistically divers enough to survive in modern society, we chose to examine speech registers as they are represented in two modern French dictionaries published in 1988 - one European, the Petit Robert (henceforth the PR); and one French-Canadian, the Dictionnaire du français plus (henceforth the Plus). After analyzing the data we reached three principle conclusions. Firstly, since, as a whole, the four "familiar" speech registers that we studied, namely "familier", "populaire", "vulgaire" and "argotique", constitute only 4% of the total nomenclature of the Plus, it is unjustified to say that "Quebec French" is synonymous with familiar speech. Secondly, the fact that approximately 70% of the French-Canadian words in each of the four registers can also be found in France, proves that the language spoken in Quebec is a dialect of French and not an autonomous language. Finally, in each of the four registers studied, there were found to exist words which are classified in a "higher" speech register in France than in Quebec. From this we concluded that it is Quebecers, and not the French who are the true linguistic "purists".

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