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Another icon of language contact shattered

  • PIETER MUYSKEN (a1)

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Ouh que c'est laid! “Oh this is ugly!” is one of the comments among the 11,800 hits on Google for the sequence “la fille que je sors avec” [the girl I go out with]. Often the comments include the idea that the whole expression has been taken from English as a direct calque. The authors of the present keynote article, Poplack, Zentz and Dion (Poplack, Zentz & Dion, 2011, this issue), argue convincingly that this type of preposition stranding in Canadian French cannot be ascribed to language contact with English. Using sound and accountable methodology, derived from the research paradigm of variationist sociolinguistics, they manage to disprove the hypothesis of a direct causal link between the expression in Canadian French and its supposed earlier use in English. Thus, an icon of language contact, both in popular perception and in many not-so-well-informed academic sources, has been shattered.

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