Dissertation: The Role of French-based Creole in the Acquisition of Standard French: The case of Mauritius

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at ccat.sas.upenn.edu
Fri Feb 10 13:54:34 UTC 2006

Forwarded from Linguist-List

Author: Hema Napal

Dissertation Title: The Role of French-based Creole in the Acquisition of
Standard French: The case of Mauritius

Dissertation Director:
Rachel Hoare

Dissertation Abstract:

This thesis investigates the acquisition of French as a second language in
the multilingual environment of Mauritius. Mauritius has been chosen
because of its linguistic complexity, diversity and wealth. Whilst the
indigenous language is Mauritian Creole, English has the status of written
official language and French that of official spoken language. The
regional French variety of Mauritius is widely spoken on the island and in
fact, most of the inhabitants are fluent in it.

The project explores the theoretical perspectives associated with the
process of second language acquisition. The theories of language
acquisition will be outlined and the various strategies language learners
employ in order to facilitate the process of second language acquisition
are examined. The sociolinguistic situation in Mauritius is introduced to
the readers before exploring the features specific to Krol Morisyen, the
lingua franca of Mauritius. The linguistic characteristics of Krol
Morisyen are compared to those of Standard French and sources of
difficulty in French language acquisition are discussed from the
perspective of the multilingual Mauritian language learner. The project
investigates those features that make learners' language different from
native speakers' production in the same language variety.  To that effect,
data collection was organised. The data analysis was divided into two
parts. The first part focused on the particularities of learners'
language, examining:

-methods of lexical selection -organisation of the
lexico-grammatical structures of the two language systems;

-cross-linguistic connectivity between the source language (English) and
the target language (French) in the case of the French native speakers;

-lexical errors relating to the misconception of grammatical
structures and lexico-semantic organisation.

The second part of the data analysis focused on those linguistic features
specific to the L2 and their effects on language learners' production.
Inaccuracies and language learners' intentional restricted access to
certain lexical items were accounted for as a learning strategy to
facilitate the process of language acquisition. However, it was observed
that such strategies lead to fossilization of lexical errors.

The contrastive interlanguage analysis previously employed by Granger
(1998) is the chosen approach for the data analysis. The language
behaviour of the French native speakers is used as the norm against which
the performance of non-native speakers is being considered. The vocabulary
chosen by the learners in Mauritius is analysed and contrasted with the
lexical choices of the native speakers within the same context in an
attempt to identify aspects of non-nativeness in learners' production in
the target language (Standard French).


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