Our work can be divided under four different topics:
The object 'discourse' is considered by the members of the Valibel - Discours et Variation centre as both a textual linguistic unit and a social and interactional event.
On the one hand, the study of 'discourse markers' (anaphors, causal and contrastive connectives, metadiscursive markers, parenthetical markers, fillers, etc.) should allow a better understanding of the organisational properties of discourse and contribute to the theoretical reflection on, among other things, the interface grammar/semantics and grammar/pragmatics, the nature of processes underlying language evolution (grammaticalisation, (inter)subjectification, fixation, etc.), the concepts of discursive genre and textual type. The hierarchical relations between discursive units also constitute objects of study, together with a reflection on the notion of minimal discourse unit and its relation to syntax and semantics. The conditions of use for these marks are analysed in a contrastive perspective (Dutch, French, English), in speech as well as in writing, both in synchrony and in diachrony.
On the other hand, it is possible to envisage the object 'discourse' as a psycholinguistic and sociolinguistic activity dependent on a vast set of linguistic and extra-linguistic factors. It is in this perspective that we are interested in the cognitive processes involved in the production and the understanding of L1 and L2 texts, as well as in the 'discursive competence' which aims to assess those elements allowing successful verbal (written or oral) interactions. These questions are also raised from a pragmatic and sociolinguistic point of view in the context of studies concerned with multimodal communication practices (i.e. integrating the different semiotic resources that are combined here: language, prosody, gesturing, proxemy, manipulation of objects, convocation of schemes or graphics, etc.) in a professional environment.
A focal point within the research of Valibel - Discours et Variation is the variation characterizing French in the French-speaking world in general, and in Belgium in particular. The evolution of linguistic norms and practices in Francophones is studied from different angles: lexicographic description of French as used in Belgium, phonological and prosodic description of spoken French in Belgium, description of the organisation of discourse in French spoken in Belgium, France and Québec, study of the representations and attitudes of Francophones in Belgium, research on the conditions of acquisition of normative French in socially, culturally and linguistically underprivileged school contexts, reflection on the launching of linguistic politics inspired by sociolinguistic research.
In relation to the two preceding axes, we dedicate special attention to prosodic phenomena (accentuation, intonation, rhythm, etc.) as markers of discourse structure and organisation, and as markers of social, regional and stylistic variation. Various research projects have been developed in order to describe the functioning of prosody in discourse on the basis of annotated corpora, on the one hand, and to understand the contribution of prosody the meaning of discourse, among other things by the description of regional accents and professional styles, on the other hand.
Minority and/or Endangered Languages are studied in several ways, ranging from the formal linguistic description to language planning issues. Most research and publications focus on the regional languages of roman Wallonia (Walloon, Picard, Lorrain and Champenois), now endangered, but whose influence is still noticeable both in terms of linguistic practices and mental representations of French-speaking Belgians. Many partnerships have been established with grassroots organizations, including the Musée de la Parole en Ardenne. More recently, the Valibel center was associated with the work of the Institut royal de la culture amazighe au Maroc (IRCAM) to support the process of recognition of Amazigh as an official language.