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It's Been Said Before

By Orin Hargraves

It's Been Said Before "examines why certain phrases become clichés and why they should be avoided -- or why they still have life left in them."

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Sounds Fascinating

By J. C. Wells

How do you pronounce biopic, synod, and Breughel? - and why? Do our cake and archaic sound the same? Where does the stress go in stalagmite? What's odd about the word epergne? As a finale, the author writes a letter to his 16-year-old self.

Academic Paper

Title: A real-time window on 19th-century vernacular French: The Récits du français québécois d'autrefois
Author: Shana Poplack
Email: click here TO access email
Institution: University of Ottawa
Author: Anne St-Amand
Institution: University of Toronto
Linguistic Field: Sociolinguistics; Text/Corpus Linguistics
Subject Language: French
Abstract: This article describes the construction of a corpus of spoken French with a time depth of a century and a half, the Récits du français québécois d'autrefois (RFQ). The folktales, local legends, and interviews constituting the RFQ were produced by speakers born between 1846 and 1895. They spoke the French of 19th-century rural Québec, a variety shown to be replete with the vernacular structures and inherent variability of contemporary dialects. The authors review the advantages and drawbacks associated with this type of diachronic material, and argue that, exploited judiciously, it effectively represents an earlier stage of spoken French. They show how systematic comparison of the RFQ with contemporary vernaculars can help pinpoint the existence, date, and direction of language change.


This article appears IN Language in Society Vol. 36, Issue 5.

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