Factors driving lexical variation in L2 French: A sociolinguistic study of automobile, auto, voiture, char, and machine.

Raymond Mougeon, Terry Nadasdi, Katherine Rehner

University of Alberta, Canada

TP124: Language practices and identity construction by advanced L2 and L3 speakers: the acquisition of sociostylistic variants

Factors driving lexical variation in L2 French: A sociolinguistic study of automobile, auto, voiture, char, and machine.

Our paper examines lexical variation from a sociolinguistic perspective in the spoken French of 41 French immersion students in Ontario, Canada. Specifically, it focuses on words that in Canadian French refer to the notion of ‘automobile’ (i.e., automobile, auto, voiture, char, and machine)—see Martel (1984) and Nadasdi, Mougeon and Rehner (2004). As a backdrop to the study, the paper reviews previous findings of our research on the learning of sociolinguistic variables by these same learners, with a special focus on two lexical variables.

The main questions addressed in this paper are: a) do the French immersion students use all of the same variants that express the notion of ‘automobile’ in Canadian French; b) does their frequency of use of such variants differ from that of speakers of Canadian French (e.g., do they under-use the marked informal variant char, do they overuse the hyper-formal variant voiture); c) does their use of the variants under study reflect the treatment of these variants in the educational input of the students’ (i.e., French immersion teachers’ speech and French language arts teaching materials)—specifically, we examine the frequency of the variants, the information regarding their socio-stylistic status, and any special activities targeting their use; and d) what are the linguistic and extra-linguistic factors that correlate with the students’ variant choice (e.g., lexical priming by the interviewer, the students’ extra-curricular exposure to Canadian French, the students’ home language).

Session: Themed Panel (part 1)
Language practices and identity construction by advanced L2 and L3 speakers: the acquisition of sociostylistic variants
Saturday, April 5, 2008, 11:00-12:30
room: 07