Linguistics: Variation in Contemporary French

lrom1221  2020-2021  Louvain-la-Neuve

Linguistics: Variation in Contemporary French
Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the information below is subject to change, in particular that concerning the teaching mode (presential, distance or in a comodal or hybrid format).
5 credits
30.0 h + 15.0 h
LFIAL1530 Introduction to linguistics
Level C1-C2 in French. 

The prerequisite(s) for this Teaching Unit (Unité d’enseignement – UE) for the programmes/courses that offer this Teaching Unit are specified at the end of this sheet.
Main themes
Examination of the usage (spoken and written) of present-day French reveals that the language is subject to significant variations that affect, among others, pronunciation, vocabulary and syntax. This course offers a series of theoretical and methodological tools for the identification, description and analysis of linguistic variants, and attempts to explain the causes of this variation. The approach is both disciplinary (phonology, lexicology, syntax) and sociolinguistic. The course aims to develop reflection about the idea of 'reference French' and about the characteristics of the different 'varieties' of French, whether regional, social or stylistic.

At the end of this learning unit, the student is able to :

By the end of this course students will be able to
' Identify linguistic variation (variables and variants) in spoken and written French usage, at the phonetic-phonological, written, morphological, lexical and syntactical levels;
' Describe variants in a qualitative manner, in relation to 'reference French';
' Interpret the social value of a variant by relating it to one or more dimensions of variation (social, geographical, stylistic, etc.);
' Distinguish between the normative and scientific viewpoints on language, and take a critical perspective on value judgements relative to usage of French.

The contribution of this Teaching Unit to the development and command of the skills and learning outcomes of the programme(s) can be accessed at the end of this sheet, in the section entitled “Programmes/courses offering this Teaching Unit”.
The following questions will be considered: which aspects of French pronunciation vary (vowels, consonants, schwa) and why? What do the phonological systems of different varieties of French (in Belgium, in the south of France, in Quebec, etc.) have in common? What questions, and what problems, are posed by gender-neutral writing (making it possible to ensure equality of representations between men and women) and the feminisation of job titles, etc.? How can one describe the origins and status of lexical regionalisms (Belgicisms, Helvetisms, etc.)? Is the syntax of the spoken language the same as that of the written language? Etc.
Teaching methods

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the information in this section is particularly likely to change.

Lectures and practical group work sessions (face-to-face, co-modality or distance learning).
Tools for interaction with large groups (Padlet, Wooclap).
Evaluation methods

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the information in this section is particularly likely to change.

In the January session, the final grade is based on continuous assessment (in the form of tests) for 20% and on a written exam for 80%.
For the September session, the continuous assessment is no longer taken into account and the exam can take the form of an oral or written exam depending on the number of students registered.
Other information
The training in French linguistics has been thought out in a progressive way over the three annual blocks of the bachelor's degree. The first annual block aims at mastering the standardized language while maintaining a critical distance from the norm (LROM1111 Linguistique : maitrise et analyse du français normé). The second annual block is devoted to the study of the French language in its social or geographical variation (LROM1221 Linguistique : la variation en français contemporain) and historical (LROM1222 Linguistique : approche historique du français dans la Roumanie). The third annual block trains in the analysis of the French language as used in context, and in particular in the identification of the genres (and registers) of texts and speeches (LROM1331 Linguistique : analyse du français en contexte).
Online resources
Moodle Platform:
  •  register for a group of Practical Work at the beginning of the year
  •  use resources (scientific articles, texts from official language policy bodies, etc.)
  •  Obtain the answers to the TP exercises after each session.
Parole&Langue website:
  • revision exercises (phonetic transcription, morphological analysis)
  • sound examples (commented examples)
Voir syllabus.
Teaching materials
  • Simon, A.C. 2020. Linguistique: la variation en français contemporain. Syllabus du cours. Louvain-la-Neuve: DUC.
  • Simon, A.C. (resp.) (2019) LROM1221 Syllabus des TP. Louvain-la-Neuve: DUC.
Faculty or entity
Force majeure
Teaching methods
Lectures and practical work sessions are organized using TEAMS.
Evaluation methods
The tests (continuous evaluation) and the written exam (duration 2 hours) are organized face-to-face or remotely (using Moodle or Gradescope), according to the sanitary measures in force.
Other information
Depending on the methods of on-site or remote evaluation, the assessment of any new restriction by the authorities or any possible incapacity duly justified by the students or professors may require the adoption of the measures provided for in cases of force majeure described above, or the proposal of an adapted individual evaluation.

Programmes / formations proposant cette unité d'enseignement (UE)

Title of the programme
Bachelier en langues et lettres anciennes et modernes

Bachelier en langues et lettres françaises et romanes, orientation générale

Mineure en linguistique

Mineure en études françaises

Bachelier en langues et lettres modernes, orientation générale

Bachelier en sciences psychologiques et de l'éducation, orientation logopédie