Meridional French

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Meridional French
français méridional
Native to Occitania
Native speakers
(no estimate available)
Official status
Official language in
 Occitania
Language codes
ISO 639-3

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[edit]

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).

Phonology[edit]

  • 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], "timbre" (stamp) is pronounced [ˈtɛmbʁə] etc.).
  • The otherwise "mute e" is pronounced in every instance, like "cerise" (cherry) being pronounced [səˈʁizə], "tête" (head) being pronounced [ˈtɛtə].
  • In closed syllables, /o/ merges with /ɔ/, /ø/ merges with /œ/ ; "notre" and "nôtre" are pronounced [ˈnɔtʁə], "jeune" and "jeûne" are pronounced [ˈʒœnə].

Lexicon[edit]

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.

References[edit]