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  • Print publication year: 2011
  • Online publication date: October 2011

12 - French Linguistics Research and Teaching in UK and Irish HE Institutions

from Part V - The Place of Linguistics in French Studies Today



The research and teaching of French linguistics in UK higher education (HE) institutions have a venerable history; a number of universities have traditionally offered philology or history of the language courses, which complement literary study. A deeper understanding of the way that the phonology, syntax and semantics of the French language have evolved gives students linguistic insights that dovetail with their study of the Roman de Renart, Rabelais, Racine or the nouveau roman. There was, in the past, some coverage of contemporary French phonetics but little on sociolinguistic issues. More recently, new areas of research and teaching have been developed, with a particular focus on contemporary spoken French and on sociolinguistics. Well supported by funding councils, UK researchers are also making an important contribution in other areas: phonetics and phonology, syntax, pragmatics and second-language acquisition. A fair proportion of French linguistics research occurs outside French sections in psychology or applied linguistics departments. In addition, the UK plays a particular role in bringing together European and North American intellectual traditions and methodologies and in promoting the internationalisation of French linguistics research through the strength of its subject associations, and that of the Journal of French Language Studies. The following sections treat each of these areas in turn.

History of the French Language

There is a long and distinguished tradition in Britain of teaching and research on the history of the French language, particularly, but by no means exclusively, at the universities of Cambridge, Manchester and Oxford.