University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics


While many variationist studies have investigated phonological aspects of North American French varieties in the last three decades, few have focused on regional varieties of European French until recently. In the present study, I examine the simplification of word-final obstruent-liquid (OL) clusters – e.g. table ‘table’ and autre ‘other’ realized as [tab] and [ot] – in Vimeu French, a region of Northern France where French is spoken alongside Picard, a regional Gallo-Roman dialect. Not only does this variety provide us with new data for European French, it also allows us to examine the influence of Picard, a language in which word-final cluster simplification is widespread (Pooley 1996). Using data from a recent Vimeu French corpus, I show that, contrary to previous descriptions of French phonology (Dell 1985), /l/ and /r/ can be deleted not only before consonants and pauses, but also in prevocalic contexts. This extension of the phonological environment in which simplification can occur also characterizes the vernacular French spoken in Roubaix, another Picard-speaking area (Pooley 1996). Differences between age groups in rate of OL simplification and in the ranking of linguistic factors also indicate that Picard may have affected the elders more than younger adults, regardless of their spoken proficiency in Picard.