University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics


Subject doubling (SD) has long been a topic of interest for researchers. Numerous quantitative studies demonstrate highly variable rates of SD across dialects (e.g. Campion 1984, Auger & Villeneuve 2010, Nadasdi 2000, Sankoff 1982, Conveney 2003, 2005). However, few of the previous studies are variationist in nature, and those that are only examine one or two factors.

Consequently, the goal of this study is to undertake a comprehensive variationist analysis of SD in Parisian colloquial French (PCF), a relatively understudied dialect of French in variationist linguistics in general, and particularly with regard to SD. All tokens of preverbal 3rd person subjects that could be doubled (full noun phrases, strong pronouns and other types of pronouns, such as lui, eux, personne, etc.) were extracted from the from the Corpus de Français Parlé Parisien des Années 2000 (CFPP2000), a French corpus consisting of sociolinguistic interviews from various Parisian suburbs. 17 interviews spanning 14 Parisian suburbs and 25 speakers were used, resulting in 1097 occurrences. These tokens were subsequently coded for the following factors claimed to affect SD: specificity and definiteness of the subject; grammatical person; type and complexity of subject; presence and type of intervening elements; sentence type; verb type; polarity and use of ne; information status; age; sex; and suburb. The data were subsequently analyzed using GoldvarbX.

Several factors were significant and supported claims made in previous qualitative studies regarding subject doubling, particularly subject complexity, use of ne, intervening elements, sentence type, and specificity and definiteness of the subject. These results are similar to results found for other dialects, suggesting that many of the same constraints condition the use of SD in the different varieties of French. Nevertheless, grammatical person, information status, sex and age differed, indicating that although there are cross-dialectal similarities, there are certain dialect-specific uses of SD, specifically pertaining to social factors. Lastly, the importance of studying the role of frequency in SD is discussed.