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Les identités françaises selon la langue




Yambor, Jenna, author
Groim, Frédérique, advisor
Malpezzi Price, Paola, 1948-, committee member
Browne, Katherine E., 1953-, committee member

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France is currently in a period of transition of international government, population, technology and language. Partly because French identities are strongly based on the language, a national identity crisis is occurring that has the country in a state of confusion as to its place in the world. But defining "identity" is a difficult task when it comes to an entire country. It is easier to see what French identity is not, by way of exclusion, than it is to say who and what it means to be French. The French language has long been a cultural cornerstone, specifically since the French Revolution when it took its place as the national language. Since then, the language has been a symbol of perfection and purity among French citizens and Francophiles with laws and committees that exist to protect it from invasive words and grammar changes. But in giving this title to the French language, many groups of people were excluded from the national identity, namely those that did not speak French at the time, which was a large percentage of the country's population. In addition, grammarians, writers, lexicographers, salonnières and more recently young immigrants have used language in order to exclude large groups of people from their perspective identity groups. In changing and defining the French language, these groups have made their own identities stronger while also excluding others from access to their worlds. This thesis is based on the idea that identities are defined by who are not included in particular French linguistic groups and therefore those excluded from holding a place within those identities. In order to understand where this idea originated and how it works, the history of the complicated French orthography is discussed. The preciosity of French salons, another linguistic identity, is also discussed which contrasts the current linguistic opposition of verlan which is having a huge effect on the French language and French identities today.


Department Head: Paola Malpezzi Price.
Text in French; title and abstract in English and French.

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