Transmission and diffusion: Linguistic change in the regional French of Béarn

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This article examines the seemingly dichotomous linguistic processes of transmission and diffusion (Labov, 2007) in the regional variety of French spoken in Béarn, southwestern France. Using a sociophonetic apparent time methodology, an analysis of nasal vowel quality provides evidence for the advancement of linguistic changes from below taking place between successive generations during the transmission process, as well as for change from above taking place in the variety as a result of exposure to diffusing non-local varieties of French. The results address Labov's (2007) assertion that it is rare to investigate incremental changes occurring from below in European dialectological studies and shed light on the transmission–diffusion interface by showing the adoption of an individual change from above to instigate a faithfully-transmitted counterclockwise chain shift in the regional French nasal vowel system.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)327-352
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of French Language Studies
Issue number3
Early online date27 Jul 2015
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2016


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