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Wednesday, April 22 • 11:05am - 11:25am
Le français en Nouvelle-Angleterre: A New England Dialect of French

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Today, New England is very densely populated with the descendants of Quebec immigrants who settled in the region’s many small towns in the mid-19th century. Influenced by factors of geography– as these Francophone communities often resided near the French-Canadian border– and culture– by which the smallness of these communities resulted in French being spoken as a first language in a country where English was, and is, the dominant language– the type of French that has developed in New England is unlike any other French dialect in the world: A niche dialect known as New England French. In recent decades, these small, isolated communities have begun to disband due to economic and technological developments that no longer oblige these French Canadian descendants to remain in their designated regions. Similarly, the necessity for subsequent generations to learn New England French is declining as communities expand. As a result, New England French is facing endangerment as a linguistic dialect that may be lost entirely in coming years. This essay explores the historical precedent for the existence of the New England dialect of French; examines the linguistic differences that exist between this dialect and the standard French dialect spoken in France; explores how the development of this vernacular has resulted in a unique cultural identity for New England Francophones; and finally, attempts to determine a trajectory for the future of New England French, and whether it is a dialect that can be preserved for future generations.


Wednesday April 22, 2015 11:05am - 11:25am PDT
406 Wilma Sherrill Center

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