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Glendon Professor Raymond Mougeon Co-Investigator on $2.5M Research Project to Study North American Francophones

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<p><img style="float: right;" src="http://monglendon.yorku.ca/tinymce/jscripts/tiny_mce/plugins/imagemanager/files/20110427/MOUGEON_Raymond_sm.jpg" alt="" width="125" height="167" />Glendon professor of linguistics and language studies <strong><a href="http://www.yorku.ca/rmougeon/" target="_blank">Raymond Mougeon</a> (right)</strong>, director of Glendon&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.glendon.yorku.ca/crlc/home.html" target="_blank">Centre for Research on Language Contact</a> (CRLC) is a co-investigator on a project funded by the prestigious <a href="http://www.sshrc-crsh.gc.ca/funding-financement/programs-programmes/mcri-gtrc-eng.aspx" target="_blank">Major Collaborative Research Initiatives</a> (MCRI) grant, under the auspices of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). <br /><br />The principal investigator and director of this large-scale project, with the title <em>Le fran&ccedil;ais &agrave; la mesure d'un continent : un patrimoine en partage (French language across a continent: a shared heritage)</em>, is Professor France G. Martineau of the University of Ottawa&rsquo;s <em>D&eacute;partement de fran&ccedil;ais</em>. Martineau also holds a University Research Chair in language and migration in French America and is the director of <a href="http://polyphonies.uottawa.ca/"><em>Le laboratoire Les Polyphonies du fran&ccedil;ais</em></a> and co-founder of the <em>Laboratoire de fran&ccedil;ais ancien</em>.<br /><br />As part of the MCRI program, the study includes 13 fellow researchers and 59 "partners" from Canada, the United States, France and Japan, working in a variety of disciplines, including linguistics, anthropology, history, geography and computer science. The seven-year plan is to study 400 years of family histories to examine how language has shaped communities and cultures.<br /><br />Other members of the CRLC involved in the project include H&eacute;l&egrave;ne Blondeau of the University of Florida, Annette T. Boudreau and Rodrigue Landry of the Universit&eacute; de Moncton, Yves Frenette of the University of Ottawa, Fran&ccedil;oise Gadet of the Universit&eacute; de Paris Ouest Nanterre La D&eacute;fense (Paris X) and Ruth E. King of York University.<br /><br />The way French is spoken in places as diverse as Gatineau, Shediac and New Orleans can tell us a lot about how Francophone communities evolved in North America. "We are looking at three fields of expansion from France that are all located across the St. Lawrence: New France &ndash; now known as Quebec, Louisiana and Acadia," explained Mougeon. <br /><br />"If we just focused on Canada, we would miss some important components of the North American Francophonie, mainly Louisiana &ndash; and probably one of the most interesting colonial settings as well, because it involved not only colonization from France, but also secondary migration from Acadia &ndash; basically the French language continued to live, but in a completely different setting from the original."<br /><br />According to Mougeon, the project team plans to reach beyond linguistics and also focus on history and sociology. "We believe that you can only understand the evolution of language if you can actually place it in its broader socio-historical setting.&rdquo;<br /><br />The study will use innovative approaches, by presenting individuals and their language as a central factor in the changes that society undergoes and by examining the relationship between the cognitive and cultural aspects of language. Relying on extensive documentation, the study will seek to identify the concerns of present-day francophone communities, in majority, minority or multicultural settings. <br /><br />The research will also help produce a major corpus of French in North America, which will include informal exchanges between individuals in the form of private correspondence or spontaneous conversation. This publicly accessible tool will be useful as a starting point to systematically compare francophone communities.<br /><br /><br /><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>More about Raymond Mougeon</strong></span><br /><br />Raymond Mougeon holds a PhD in Linguistics from McGill University and has conducted extensive research on topics including the diversity of spoken French in Ontario; the demo-linguistic vitality of the Franco-Ontarian community; the sociolinguistic history of French in Quebec and France from the colonial period (16th century) to the present day; and the sociolinguistic competence of French-immersion students. He is the author or co-author of numerous publications and has participated in 36 research projects with funds representing over $5 million in research grants from major sources, including SSHRC, the Ontario Ministry of Education and the Association of Canadian Studies.<br /><br /><em>Submitted by Glendon communications officer Marika Kemeny</em></p>

Published on April 27, 2011