Analysis of Two Discourse Markers, Oui and Voilà, Used By Chinese-L1 Speakers of French in France

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 15:03
Location: Hörsaal 24 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Delin DENG, EHESS, France
Despite many fruitful researches on discourse markers used by native speakers of French (Chanet, 2001, 2004, Beeching, 2001, 2002, 2007, etc.), few studies have documented the usage of French discourse markers by non-English-L1 speakers. The current study aims to show how social factors influence the discourse of French-L2 speakers.

This case study explores the French vernacular of a group of Chinese-L1 speakers in France by analyzing their usage of two functionally interchangeable discourse markers, “oui” and “voilà”. For example,

Example 1 :

…tu fais le soir français y a rien y a rien y a rien soit le restaurant soit le bar c'est tout oui (Lai-H-N-2014)

Example 2 :

… après j'ai fait l'année 2012 et 2013 à Clermont Ferrand pour améliorer la partie de français voilà (Wei-H-P-2014)

The statistics show that females are more associated to “oui”, and males to “voilà”. Men use both forms, while women avoid largely “voilà”. Students prefer “oui”, while professionals “voilà”. Also, only the latter alternate between these two forms. However, the duration of stay is proved to be statistically insignificant to their usage of these two discourse markers. In contrast, social network and extracurricular contact with native speakers seem to be strongly influential. The more diverse the social network is, the more one uses “voilà” and is able to alternate between the two forms. The same has been proved to be true to extracurricular contact.

In conclusion, the social factors influence largely the usage of certain discourse markers by non-English-L1 speakers of French. However, the insignificant influence of the duration of stay contradicts the results from previous studies with French-L2 speakers from other L1 language backgrounds. The current datas shows that it is not how long we stay in the target language community that matters, but the kind of interaction with native speakers.