French in the City versus French of the School: The Anglo-Montrealer linguistic repertoire

Helene Blondeau

University of Florida, USA

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

Because French has become an integral part of the linguistic repertoire of the Anglophone community living in Montreal, this article provides an analysis of the variety of French spoken by Anglo-Montrealers.The relation between functional competence and usage of French (Auger 2002) is examined by an analysis of interviews collected from young Anglo-Montrealers who have experienced different degrees of exposure to French via different types of immersion programs within the school system (Genesee 1998), and via their daily contact with French.

The first part of the paper examines representations of the French language in two sets of interviews, one in French the other in English, provided by each individual speakers. This analysis provides us two different angles to better understand the differences between the pedagogical norm taught in the context of immersion program and community norms as experienced by Anglo-Montrealers in their daily contact with L1 French speakers. As expressed in their own discourse, sociostylistic competence plays a major role, since Anglo-Montrealers point out the difference between the French they acquired in school and the actual norms of Quebec French.

The contrast between those two sets of norms is then confronted to their actual use of French. By examining the usage of linguistic variables, the analysis sheds light on features that have shown a clear differentiation between variants according to the stylistic dimension (Mougeon et al 2004). One of our recurrent results is that the more contact a speaker has with native speakers of French, the closer the speaker is to the community norms (Blondeau et al 2002). Especially in a context where the target language is part of the daily life, our paper argues that pedagogical norm has to include reference to community norms.

Auger, J. 2002. French immersion in Montréal: Pedagogical norm and functional competence. In S. Gass, K. Bardovi-Harlig, S. Sieloff Magnan, & J. Walz (eds.). Second and Foreign Language Learning and Teaching. Amsterdam: Benjamins. 81-101.

Blondeau, H., N. Nagy, G. Sankoff and P. Thibault 2002. La couleur locale du français des Anglo-Montréalais In J.-M. Dewaele et R. Mougeon (eds.) L’acquisition de la variation par les apprenants du français langue seconde, Numéro spécial d'Acquisition et Interaction en Langue Étrangère, 17: 73-100.

Genesee, F. 1998. French immersion in Canada. In J. Edwards (ed.) Language in Canada. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 305-325.

Mougeon, R., K. Rehner and T. Nadasdi 2004. The learning of spoken French variation by immersion students from Toronto, Canada. Journal of Sociolinguistics 8 (3): 408-432.

Session: Themed Panel (part 2)
Language practices and identity construction by advanced L2 and L3 speakers: the acquisition of sociostylistic variants
Saturday, April 5, 2008, 13:45-15:15
room: 07