Diaphasic variation and change in French pronouns

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The French pronominal paradigm demonstrates a colloquial variation between expressing the 1st person plural as <i>on</i> and as <i>nous</i> (<i>On est 19 dans ma classe</i> meaning the same as <i>Nous sommes 19 dans ma classe</i>). This use of definite <i>on</i> is stigmatized by some as working class and incorrect and seen as a spreading feature, but seen by others as a stable stylistic ressource. The present article (inspired by Coveney 2000) investigates the speech of six young Parisians in different kinds of speech situations, in order not only to examine the possible diaphasic dimension of the <i>on/nous</i> alternation, but also to look into their other uses of <i>on, </i>in search of an explanation of the increasing popularity of this pronoun in French.


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