Specific linguistic profiles in a Creole-speaking area: Children’s speech on Reunion Island

Abstract : Linguists use the concept of diglossia to describe any sociolinguistic situation where a low-prestige dialect coexists with a high-prestige one and these dialects are used in different social spheres. Recent observations on Reunion Island have challenged this view because people mix French and Creole extensively in the same utterance and even in the same word. Prudent accounted for the flexibility of these intermediate linguistic forms through the concept of interlect. Children are exposed at an early age to such intermediate mixed forms and in an earlier study the author suggested five language profiles for young children’s use of mixing. The current study surveyed 110 five-year-old children on Reunion Island to further validate these profiles. The data analysis focuses on one variable, verb forms, which allow the identification of three production types: French, Creole and interlectal forms. Based on these data a language profile for each participant was identified. The children varied in their use of Creole and French, with the largest group of children being Creole ‘asymmetric’, whereby their speech was dominated by Creole but also included a significant amount of French. The majority of children aged 5 speak little or minimal French.
Mots-clés : Linguistique
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Journal articles
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http://hal.univ-reunion.fr/hal-01501119
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Mylène Lebon-Eyquem. Specific linguistic profiles in a Creole-speaking area: Children’s speech on Reunion Island. First Language, SAGE Publications, 2015, 35 (4-5), pp.327--340. ⟨10.1177/0142723715617875⟩. ⟨hal-01501119⟩

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