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Title: Phonological variation, perception and language attitudes in the (Franco-)Belgian borderland
Author: Foxen, Sarah Elizabeth
ISNI:       0000 0004 6353 0447
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2017
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The subject of this thesis is the French language in the Franco-Belgian borderland. More specifically, it investigates language, linguistic perceptions and language attitudes in the French-speaking part of Belgium which borders France. The study takes a variationist approach and is grounded in sociolinguistic theory, but it also draws on theories and methodologies from elsewhere in the social sciences. Two questions are at the heart of this study: how do people speak French in the Belgian borderland and why do they speak that way? To answer the research questions, speech and questionnaire data were gathered from 39 informants living in the borderland city of Tournai and its surrounding area. With this data, a variety of analyses were performed. Sociophonetic investigations were carried out on two phonological variables, namely the vocalic oppositions /e/-/ɛ/ and /o/-/ɔ/, draw-a-map task perceptual data were analysed through a ‘visual methods’ lens, and attitudinal data were also examined. Social variation in linguistic behaviour, perceptions and language attitudes was also analysed. The notions of ‘space’, ‘place’ and ‘spatiality’ were accorded considerable importance: the interactions between language and ‘space’ as the factors of ‘mobility’, ‘media consumption’, ‘sense of place’ and ‘regional belonging’ were also examined. The findings include that French in the Belgian borderland is more similar to that in France than to elsewhere in Francophone Belgium and that this is due to a number of factors. Moreover, the French in the borderland appears to be converging on that in France, although some differences persist. It was also found that spatial factors interact with both linguistic and social ones. Finally, it was concluded that whilst there is no longer a physical barrier at the national border, it persists to an extent as a psychological one, and this has ramifications for borderlanders’ behaviour: be it linguistic or otherwise.
Supervisor: Boughton, Zoe ; Coveney, Aidan Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: French ; sociolinguistics ; linguistics ; perceptual dialectology ; Belgium ; phonological variation ; language attitudes ; language variation and change