Edited by Ludovic De Cuypere, Clara Vanderschueren and Gert De Sutter
[Belgian Journal of Linguistics 31] 2017
► pp. 76–103
A crowdsourcing approach to the description of regional variation in French object clitic clusters
Our contribution is dedicated to the empirical testing of alleged regional variants of object clitic clusters in modern French in France, Belgium and Switzerland. We provide some intriguing new insights into the regional distribution of non-standard variants and discuss one hypothesis on their nature and two hypotheses to explain their coming into being: language-contact (with Francoprovençal, Occitan and Oïl dialects, H1) and/or analogical leveling (H2), on the one hand, and their postsyntactic, rather than syntactic, nature, on the other (H3). Our main results reveal that the three non-standard variants where order in object clitic clusters is concerned are not regionally well-distributed, i.e. the observed distribution does not correspond to any cohesive area. In contrast, only one variant where the selection of the form (me vs. moi) is at issue seems to be regionally confined: it is found in French-speaking Switzerland, in Gascony, plus some rare attestations of it in the North of France. All in all, variation in object clitic clusters indicates a genuinely new geographical articulation of regional French that does not coincide with traditional dialectal areas.