Sociolinguistic variation in African French

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While the extra-territorial varieties of English are well documented, extra-territorial varieties of French are less studied. This chapter deals with the relative clause in Ivorian French, one of the most restructured varieties of French in Africa. In the multilingual country of Ivory Coast, the acquisition of French by speakers with no or poor formal education has led to a significant number of structural changes. After a brief sociolinguistic and linguistic description of French in the Ivory Coast, the article gives an account of the types of relatives observed in Ivorian French. The chapter shows that a reinterpretation of the syntactic patterns of (oral) French is taking place, concerning mainly the relative pronoun – antecedent relationship and the possibility of omissions of the relative pronoun in Ivorian French. In the light of such non-standard relatives, the pertinence of a morphosyntactic definition of subordination and relativization is discussed. Finally, possible inter-, intra- and extrasystemic factors motivating the observed non-standard relatives are examined.


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