Sociolinguistics of French (MLF3034)

StaffProfessor Aidan Coveney - Convenor
Credit Value15
ECTS Value7.5
NQF Level6
Pre-requisitesOne of MLF 1103, MLF 2012, MLF 2029 [students without this must e-mail Prof Coveney for permission before opting for this module]
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks;

Module aims

The aims of the module are to:

  • To familiarise you with the methods and practices of sociolinguistics, especially regarding linguistic variation and change in contemporary French — both phonology and grammar.
  • To develop further your familiarity with linguistic and sociolinguistic concepts and terminology.
  • To further enhance your understanding of the nature of linguistic variation and communicative competence [both generally, and with specific reference to French].

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Demonstrate good understanding of sociolinguistic methodology and theory
  • 2. Show enhanced awareness of variation, especially in French
  • 3. Demonstrate an enhanced appreciation of aspects of communicative competence [e.g. style shifting, patterns of address]

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. Show familiarity with the structure and style of research literature on sociolinguistics in French and English
  • 5. Understand and use, in written and oral contexts, a good range of linguistic and sociolinguistic terms
  • 6. After initial input from the course tutor(s), apply and evaluate critical approaches to the material under analysis independently

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 7. Apply reading skills - analysis and evaluation (including ability to understand some key methodological issues in the social/human sciences: e.g. sampling, data collection)
  • 8. Demonstrate presentation skills, written and oral
  • 9. Demonstrate an enhanced awareness of the social and linguistic characteristics of various speech genres, especially interviews and conversation
  • 10. Demonstrate an enhanced awareness of the social and linguistic characteristics of various speech genres, especially interviews and conversation
  • 11. Interpret graphical and tabular presentation of survey results

Syllabus plan

The aims and methods of sociolinguistic research are explored, along with the 'sociolinguistic patterns' that have been found in several classic surveys. Questions that are addressed include the following: what differences are there in the speech of young and old, women and men, working and middle classes? Is it possible to identify cases of linguistic change in progress at the present time? We look at French pronunciation [for example, liaison] but especially grammar [eg the dropping of 'ne', question forms]. As several of these features have been studied in Quebec, the module gives a further opportunity to become familiar with aspects of Canadian French. The final part of the course concerns other aspects of communicative competence in French including, for example, the delicate issue of tutoiement and vouvoiement and the language of telephone conversations. Sociolinguistic surveys [like other surveys] involve numerical results which are displayed in graphs and tables of figures. However, no mathematical background is assumed for this module, apart from a familiarity with the notion of percentages.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching5Lectures
Scheduled Learning and Teaching11Seminars
Guided Independent Study134Private study

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay planUp to 750 words1-11Individual and collective, written and oral

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Examination1002 hours1-11Individual, written and collective oral via ELE

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Written examinationCoursework Essay (3000 words)1-11Referral/deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Prescribed Text:

  • Lesley Milroy and Matthew Gordon, Sociolinguistics: method and interpretation [Blackwell,

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Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

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Key words search

Sociolinguistics, French