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The sociolinguistic relevance of regional categories

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Several authors have claimed that regional variation in language is no longer very relevant in the French context. In this paper we aim to investigate whether this claim is also valid in Belgium. Although linguistic practices in Wallonia have shown a strong tendency towards homogenization (a term we define below), they are still perceived as significantly different from the standard norm prevalent in France and also as showing internal diversity. Through the analysis of a phonological variable (word-final consonant devoicing), we try to assess to what extent linguistic practices in Wallonia differ from standard French and whether they also manifest significant internal diversity. Our results show that these differences are substantial and reveal structurally distinct ways of speaking French in the areas under scrutiny.

  • Affiliations: 1: Centre de recherches VALIBEL, UCL, Belgium

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