23.152, Diss: Socioling/Syntax: 'A Window on the Past, A Move Toward the ...'

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LINGUIST List: Vol-23-152. Mon Jan 09 2012. ISSN: 1069 - 4875.

Subject: 23.152, Diss: Socioling/Syntax: 'A Window on the Past, A Move Toward the ...'

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1)
Date: 08-Jan-2012
From: Philip Comeau [pcomeau at yorku.ca]
Subject: A Window on the Past, A Move Toward the Future: Sociolinguistic and formal perspectives on variation in Acadian French


-------------------------Message 1 ---------------------------------- 
Date: Mon, 09 Jan 2012 14:32:18
From: Philip Comeau [pcomeau at yorku.ca]
Subject: A Window on the Past, A Move Toward the Future: Sociolinguistic and formal perspectives on variation in Acadian French

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Institution: York University 
Program: Linguistics and Applied Linguistics 
Dissertation Status: Completed 
Degree Date: 2011 

Author: Philip Comeau

Dissertation Title: A Window on the Past, A Move Toward the Future:
Sociolinguistic and formal perspectives on variation in
Acadian French 

Linguistic Field(s): Sociolinguistics
                     Syntax

Subject Language(s): French (fra)


Dissertation Director(s):
Raymond Mougeon
Ruth King
Gabriela Alboiu

Dissertation Abstract:

This dissertation examines variation in mood choice and in the expression
of future temporal reference in a conservative variety of Acadian French.
The data come from two sociolinguistic corpora representative of the
variety spoken in the Baie Sainte-Marie area of southwest Nova Scotia.
Since varieties of Acadian French preserve features lost in most other
contemporary varieties, they offer a unique opportunity to study linguistic
systems closely related to earlier stages of the language. 

The methodological and theoretical approaches involve both variationist
sociolinguistics and generative theories of grammar, thus combining two
areas of research not usually brought together. The study focuses on two
linguistic variables: 1) use of the subjunctive vs. other moods (indicative
and conditional), and 2) expression of future temporal reference (inflected
future vs. periphrastic future). The analysis of the subjunctive shows that
there is actually little variation and the subjunctive mood is well
preserved. The variation which is observed can be accounted for by assuming
that mood choice turns on the presence or absence of a semantic feature,
assertion. The results for the future temporal reference variable show,
contrary to what has been found for Laurentian varieties, that the
inflected future remains in robust use, with the strongest predictor of
variant choice being temporal reference, with proximate actions favouring
the periphrastic future. The future results are in line with both prior
studies of Acadian French and with grammarians' characterization of the
latter variant as 'le futur proche'. The results also differ from those of
studies of Laurentian varieties in that sentential polarity plays no role
in conditioning variant choice. The formal analysis accounts for variation
by positing two loci of variation (one pre-syntax and one post-syntax)
which accurately predicts the observed frequencies of the variants.

Overall, this dissertation shows that while there may be variable usage
there is no evidence of change in the linguistic system for these two
variables, thus supporting the characterization of this variety of Acadian
French as conservative. The formal analyses contribute to an emerging line
of research, sometimes referred to as sociosyntax, which aims at accounting
for variation within the grammar. 





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