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“Carrefour Louisiane”

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Aspects of Language Contact in the History of Louisiana French

The history of Louisiana French (LF) is closely related to Louisiana’s particular societal and linguistic ecosystem, characterized by a mixed society where new forms of societal organization emerged and were reflected in new forms of linguistic patterns and linguistic behavior. From the beginning, language contact has been of crucial importance for the emergence, evolution and gradual decline of Louisiana French (“Cajun French”). In colonial times, contact between related French lects resulted in the formation of a new variety of regional French in North America with its own features and its own evolutionary dynamics. The continuing contact with English, however, which takes place in an entirely different ecological frame, results in the ongoing attrition of the minority language. The first part of the article deals with early stages of dialect contact in Louisiana; it will be shown that from a diachronic point of view Louisiana French has to be seen as a product of language mixing and dialect leveling. In the second part two specific aspects of current English-French language contact will be discussed. Both aspects serve to illustrate particularities of the linguistic situation in Louisiana now and then as well as the importance of certain universal mechanisms of contact-induced language change.

Affiliations: 1: University of Regensburg,


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