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"C'est either que tu parles francais, c'est either que tu parles anglais": A cognitive approach to Chiac as a contact language

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Title: "C'est either que tu parles francais, c'est either que tu parles anglais": A cognitive approach to Chiac as a contact language
Author: Young, Hilary Adrienne Nicole
Advisor: Achard, Michel
Degree: Doctor of Philosophy thesis
Abstract: This thesis concerns Chiac, a dialect of Acadian French (AF) that emerged in a small speech community of AF-English bilingual teenagers in Moncton, Canada. Syntactically and morphologically, Chiac closely resembles AF, but it also makes use of a number of English lexical items and other English-influenced constructions. This thesis addresses two related questions with regard to Chiac: how (and why) did it emerge, and what is its structure? I answer the first question in Chapters 2--3, arguing that Chiac emerged as a result of a confluence of social factors. Speakers' age, their bilingualism, their urban environment and their attitudes toward the languages spoken in Moncton resulted in speakers sharing a sense of identity and wanting to distinguish themselves from other social groups. Within the framework of Cognitive Grammar (CG) I model the emergence of Chiac due to these social factors. The advantage of a CG approach is that, in addition to allowing for a unified analysis of how social factors influence linguistic structure, it treats the bilingual linguistic system in the same way as the monolingual linguistic system in that no special modules or formal devices are needed to account for bilingual language usage. Chapters 4--6 address the second question: what is the structure of Chiac? Still using the framework of CG I describe the Chiac lexicon, as well as some of its noun phrase and verb phrase constructions. I find, for example, that English-based lexical items in Chiac tend to involve certain semantic domains related to teen culture (drugs, social groups at school etc.). The motivation for this usage seems to be that speakers' adolescence is highly relevant to their sense of identity, and that mixing English with their parents' language (AF) is a way of asserting that identity. This thesis therefore has both theoretical and descriptive relevance in that, in addition to describing specific constructions, I show how constructions and ultimately an entire system emerged as a result of language mixing that is motivated by social factors.
Citation: Young, Hilary Adrienne Nicole. (2002) ""C'est either que tu parles francais, c'est either que tu parles anglais": A cognitive approach to Chiac as a contact language." Doctoral Thesis, Rice University. http://hdl.handle.net/1911/18154.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1911/18154
Date: 2002

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