University of Ottawa study suggests Frenglais isn’t weakening French

Shana Poplack is a linguistic professor at the University of Ottawa who studied hundreds of Frenglais speakers to reach her conclusion; incorporating English into French language indeed has no negative impact on the language like most people in Canada had thought.

According to Poplack, research shows that many of the concerns people have about hybrid languages don’t hold up over the long term. In her study, she examined millions of words from speakers of Quebec French, as far back as 1846, and found that most of the borrowed ones simply disappear after their first mention.

According to Poplack, research has found that when English words do become part of the language they don’t permanently alter the fundamentals of the language. This means that when people borrow words, they ‘strip’ them of the grammatical properties that they come with.

In the case of French and English, “English words are treated just like any other French word, so mixing them has no effect on the grammatical core of the language,” according to Poplack. She said the reason she chose to study languages that blend together, specifically in Canada was because it is a bilingual country, where people speak French and English and they sometimes mix them. Poplack also said that she studies how people manage to mix the languages together and still maintain coherent sentences.

According to the article there are two basic ways in which bilinguals mix languages. The first is when the speaker is taking the word from the other language and incorporating it into the borrowing language. The other type of mixing is called code switching, which is basically an alternating between stretches of the two languages in use.

Poplack concluded by saying that the English being spoken in Frenglais is less that one per cent of all vocabulary being used. Therefore, the English words being used aren’t invading the language, in fact they are quite rare and are not bringing their grammatical properties with them.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s