Advancing the change?

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This article examines a change under way in French in contact with English in Quebec, namely the variation among <i>on</i> ‘one’, <i>tu</i> ‘you’, and <i>vous</i> ‘you’ to express indefinite reference. The variationist analysis of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Quebec French data highlights how the usage of second-person pronouns as indefinite pronouns, although frequent in a twentieth-century sociolinguistic corpus, was rare in the corpus representing an earlier stage of the language and a less intense contact situation. Analysis of the linguistic behavior of bilingual Anglo-Montrealers reveals that their usage of the second-person indefinite not only goes in the same direction as the change under way in favor of second-person pronouns observed for L1 speakers at the end of the twentieth century, but actually advances the change in their own repertoire.


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