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Meridional French (French: français méridional), is a regional variant of the French language. It is strongly influenced by Occitan and so widely spoken in Occitania. It is also referred to as Francitan.
Speakers of Meridional French can be found in all generations, although the accent is more pronounced among the elderly, who often speak Occitan as their first language.
Characteristics of the dialect
Meridional French was affected by the Occitan language in a number of ways, including its phonology, morphology, syntax, and lexicon. Perhaps most salient, however, were the phonological effects of the language, resulting in the characteristic accent of Meridional French speakers. Those effects have been characterized in part as: a loss of phonemic nasal vowels, replaced instead with an oral vowel followed by a nasal consonant; the frequent realization of schwa as a stand-in for Latin's final atonal vowel, lost by speakers of other varieties of French; and the presence of a lexical stress on the penultimate syllable in many words, in contrast to Standard French's final phrase stress.
Meridional French is also subject to a phonological law known as the Law of Position. This principle is strictly adhered to by speakers of Meridional French, in contrast to speakers of other varieties of French. In brief, it says that mid vowels are subject to allophonic variation based on the shape of their syllables. A mid-open vowel will be realized in a closed syllable (one ending in a consonant), and a mid-close vowel will be realized in an open syllable (one ending in a vowel). The phenomenon has been shown to be somewhat more complex than this, however, as shown by Durand (1995), Eychenne (2006), and Chabot (2008).
- Lexical (or word-based) stress is used, unlike the prosodic stress of Standard French.
- Nasal vowels are lost, replaced with an oral vowel followed by a nasal consonant (enfant (child) is pronounced [aŋfaŋ][clarification needed], timbre (stamp) is pronounced [ˈtɛmbʁə], etc.).
- The otherwise "mute e" is pronounced in every instance; for example, cerise (cherry) is pronounced [səˈʁizə], and tête (head) is pronounced [ˈtɛtə].
- In closed syllables, /o/ merges with /ɔ/, /ø/ merges with /œ/; notre and nôtre are both pronounced as [ˈnɔtʁə], jeune and jeûne are both pronounced as [ˈʒœnə].
The dialect has some vocabulary peculiar to it, such as péguer (Occitan pegar), "to be sticky" (standard French poisser), chocolatine (southwest), "pain au chocolat", or flute (a bigger baguette, called pain parisien (parisian bread) in Paris).
Some phrases can mean something different from what they would usually mean in French. For example, s'il faut, literally meaning "if it is necessary", actually means "maybe" (which would be rendered in standard French as peut-être). This is a calque of Occitan se cal.
- Chabot, Alex (2004). "Suprasegmental Structure in Meridional French and its Provençal Substrate" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-12-19.
- Durand, Jacques (1995). "Alternances vocaliques en français du midi et phonologie du gouvernement". Lingua 95 (1-3): 27–50. doi:10.1016/0024-3841(95)90100-0.
- Eychenne, Julienne (2006). "Aspects de la phonologie du schwa dans le français contemporain. Optimalité, visibilité prosodique, gradience.". Retrieved 2008-10-21.[dead link]