A study in syntactic variation: mood usage in Gabonese French
Omar Bongo University
This study examines the ways in which the use of the subjunctive in Gabon varies from that of standard French, and the extent to which such variation can be accounted for by sociolinguistic variables, and also by formal, internal factors.
Gabon is a multiethnic region characterised by a high degree of literacy and French mother tongue usage, which has been the subject of considerably fewer linguistic studies than certain other African francophone nations, and certainly none which explores mood variation. The study assesses the extent to which mood usage in Gabon reflects the findings of existing variationist studies on mood in other francophone regions, especially Canada and northern France. The findings are based on interviews with a judgement sample of one hundred speakers, and the data collected is analysed both qualitatively and quantitatively, taking into account a set of secondary variables, namely socio-economic status and geographical origin, as well as morphosyntactic features cited in existing literature as exerting an influence on mood choice. For the purposes of comparison, and to highlight the salient features of the Gabonese data, this study also examines the validity of existing classifications of the subjunctive, potential subjunctive-triggering matrices which exhibit particular variation and the implications of this variation, and examines the issue of endogenous norms in African French. Finally, this study hypothesises that Gabonese French can be placed on a continuum of regional mood usage, and can be considered to be a regional variety of French. Chapter summary:
1. Review of existing literature on the French subjunctive 2. The linguistic situation in Gabon and endogenous norms in Africa 3. The pilot survey 4. Analysis of subjunctive usage in Gabon 5. Comparison with usage in France 6. Conclusions.
ISBN 9783895866111. LINCOM Studies in French Linguistics 08. 244pp. 2009.