Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


French Studies

Document Type



Cajun French presents variable use of linguistic features, as any other variety of French does. Many Cajun French features are considered as deviant from the French norm or triggered by attrition although fluent speakers of Cajun French have always used them. In this sociolinguistic study, we analyze the use of locative prepositions. We add two important dimensions to existing studies: real-time evidence for a diachronic descriptive perspective, and a methodological tool, measuring the degree of exposure to French (MDI). This approach allows us to establish the local prepositional norm of Cajun French and phenomena due to attrition. Large amounts of data for the study of eight categories of locative prepositions are taken from the Cajun French corpus constructed by Dubois in 1997, and also a few interviews conducted by Gold, Louder and Waddell in 1975 are integrated. Our first goal is to determine the overall distribution of prepositions in Cajun French. We discuss their usage in different varieties of French. We show which prepositions are part of the local prepositional norm and which ones are infrequent, sporadic usages that belong to the innovative norm in Cajun French. As a second goal, we present the complex linguistic conditioning system for prepositions in Cajun French, which the fluent and almost all restricted speakers respect. The third goal is to study the effects of the social conditioning. We demonstrate that the local norms are well maintained usages, while the innovative ones are due to language change. We found that some innovations originate in the combined effect of linguistic attrition and change over time, while others have been introduced early as localized usages. Although the young generation shows the highest usage of these forms, they are not responsible for their introduction, but adopt them. Using systemic and extralinguistic criteria, we determined the direct interference from English and internal motivation as sources of the innovations. While diatopic variation overall is weak, Avoyelles parish shows a higher retention of a few long-standing usages than St. Landry and Lafourche, the two other regions under study.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Sylvie Dubois