Date: Fri, 27 Jan 1995 08:40:11 CST From: Mike Picone Subject: Re: TV and dialect A couple of quick comments on CODOFIL (Council for the Development of French in Louisiana, founded in 1968) by way of reaction to Jeffrey Allen's posting. I'm not as familiar with what CODOFIL has done in the area of mass media as I am in the area of education and promoting student exchanges with Francophone countries. Results are mixed. I visited one family in Louisiana who had hit it off so well with the family of their French exchange student, that they would vacation together in France almost every year. The father of this Louisiana family was, consequently, one of the very few Cajuns I have ever spoken to who was capable of dialect shifting. He could emulate the so-called `metropolitan' code, and did so with me, but to the disgust of my lowly Cajun friend who accompanied me to this interview and and, while in admiration, felt he was putting on airs. So in this one case, at least, a CODOFIL program has had profound linguistic impact. But such cases are very rare. Concerning education, I once spent an entire day sitting in on French immersion classes at Cecilia Elementary School. The teachers were from France, Belgium and Quebec with one Cajun teacher's aide. All, however, had attended some kind of training to become aware of local dialectal distinctions. There was never any attempt to correct anyone's French in the classroom, and on occasion local vocabulary was injected into the presentation. However, to understand what is going on, even while greatly appreciating the educational benefit to the students, one must be aware of the artifiality of this venture. Very few of the students come from homes where French is spoken at all anymore. Probably for none of them did this constitute a reinforcement of a maternal language. The French the kids spoke in class revealed that their active competence was far from fluent, though passive competence was very great. Deviations in usage made by students were related more to linguistic interference from English than from local dialectal intrusions. The code they are developing would make a fascinating study, but it is not Cajun French, and there is precious little hope that this kind of thing will ever revive French in Louisiana. As for French in the media, there are quite a few radio stations that broadcast partly or completely in Cajun French. The renaissance of Cajun music has helped much in this regard. A few news summaries and an early morning Catholic devotional in Cajun French can be found on TV. How the announcers deal with vocabulary needs is a very interesting study, but one that would seem to show far more intrasentential lexical code-switching to English than use of native neologisms or borrowings from other dialects of French. For more on this, see my just-published article "Lexicogenesis and language vitality" in WORD, Dec. 1994. Mike Picone University of Alabama MPICONE[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]UA1VM.UA.EDU