Prosody and language contact: the case of federal French in Switzerland
2013, Vol. XVIII-2, pp. 77-90
This study aims at examining the accentual properties of a variety of L2 French commonly called “Français Fédéral”, a variety of French spoken in Switzerland by speakers who have a Swiss-German dialect as their mother tongue. We compared the data of 4 groups of 4 speakers: 2 groups of 4 native French speakers from Neuchâtel and from Paris, and 2 groups of 4 Swiss-German French speakers from Bern and Zürich. The data were semi-automatically processed, and three main prosodic features relating to accentuation were examined: metrical weight of the Accentual Phrase, respect of Accentual Phrase formation constraints (ALIGN-XHEAD and *CLASH), and proportion of secondary accents. Our findings regarding the two first parameters suggest that speakers of “Français Fédéral” share several features with a lexical accentuation system rather than with a supra-lexical accentuation system, albeit that the hypothesis of transfer fails to explain the high proportion of secondary accents encountered in the production of non-native speakers.