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Pluricentric Languages: New Perspectives in Theory and Description


Edited By Rudolf Muhr and Dawn Marley

This volume presents a selection of papers from the «3 rd International Conference on Non-Dominant Varieties of Pluricentric Languages» that was held in 2014 at the University of Surrey, Guildford (UK). The papers in section one deal with the theoretical aspects of pluricentricity and methods of description of the variations in pluricentric languages. Section two contains a number of papers about «new» pluricentric languages and «new» non-dominant varieties that have not been described before. Section three showcases pluricentric languages that are used alongside indigenous languages and section four deals with the pluricentricity of special languages.
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Pluricentricity and sociolinguistic relationships between French, English and indigenous Languages in New Caledonia


Anu Bissoonauth*

(University of Wollongong, Australia)

Abstract: This paper examines language attitudes in New Caledonia, where French, a pluricentric language, comes in contact with indigenous Melanesian languages and Tayo, a French-based Creole. Results from a recent sociolinguistic study reveal that whilst indigenous languages are valued as cultural heritage, there is a noticeable shift from these non-dominant languages towards French in the domestic context, particularly in younger generations living in urban areas. French has official status and is the vehicular language perceived as the cement that unites the whole population. English, another pluricentric language with a dominant role in the Pacific, is non-dominant in New Caledonia, and for most a foreign language. The relationship between French and the indigenous languages is one of classic diglossia, where French has the higher status. The first section of this paper gives a brief overview of the social history and language situation in New Caledonia. It then examines patterns of language use in multilingual context. Finally it explores social attitudes towards French, English and non-dominant vernaculars through a questionnaire and interview on the eve of the independence referendum.

Situated in the Pacific Ocean about 1500 kilometres east of Australia, New Caledonia or Kanaky (indigenous name) is composed of the main island (la Grande Terre), where the capital Nouméa is located, the Loyalty islands (Ouvéa, Lifou, Tiga and Maré), the Iles des Pins and the Belep islands.

New Caledonia was established as a French...

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