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Title: Linguistic transfer and dialect levelling : a sociophonetic analysis of contact in the regional French of Béarn
Author: Mooney, Damien
ISNI:       0000 0004 5354 9873
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis investigates the genesis and evolution of the regional variety of French spoken in Béarn, southwestern France, by considering phonetic and phonological changes taking place in two different contact situations: language contact between French and Béarnais, and dialect contact with other contemporary varieties of French. Through an examination of linguistic transfer, in a situation of bilingualism, and of levelling and diffusion during dialect contact, the thesis challenges two long-standing assumptions about regional French: that it results from ‘substrate residue’ and that this ‘residue’ is ephemeral and will therefore be lost over time. The methodology is sociophonetic, combining traditional Labovian data collection techniques with detailed acoustic phonetic analysis. The acoustic analyses focus on the mid-vowel and nasal unit systems of Béarnais and French, first examining L1-to-L2 transfer and subsequently investigating apparent-time changes taking place in regional French as a result of dialect contact. The findings show that, while this variety of regional French contains clear cases of ‘substrate residue’ from Béarnais, its formation during language contact is better accounted for by a combination of linguistic transfer, divergence and innovation, with structural correspondences between the surface phonologies of the languages influencing the outcomes of contact in each case, as predicted by Flege’s Speech Learning Model. The assumption that regional French features are transitory is refuted: the results of the apparent-time study show that young speakers in Béarn are not simply involved in the wholesale adoption of the northern French norm over time. Contemporary regional French in Béarn is shown to constitute a distinctive combination of local, supralocal and innovative features resulting primarily from the various mechanisms which constitute Kerswill’s model of Regional Dialect Levelling.
Supervisor: Temple, Rosalind Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Linguistics ; French ; Occitan ; Phonetics