Bilingualism in North-East France with specific reference to Rhenish Franconian spoken by Moselle Cross-border (or frontier) workers

Stephanie Hughes

Abstract



This chapter examines the phenomena of bilingualism in the contact zone of the Moselle area of North-East France on the border with the Saarland, where cross-border workers negotiate linguistic identity in the context of interaction with German and French. The study presents an extensive historical background and takes up an empirical investigation of this little-known corner of France, in a survey of language use amongst 120 cross-border workers, conducted in 1998. The consequences of mobility in this case are that the respondents do not find themselves in a stable diglossic situation, but rather in a situation of linguistic flux. There are several micro- and macro-level factors which mitigate against use of Rhenish Franconian dialect in daily life, with the result that dialect is not being spoken to the same extent as it was in the past. There has been a significant decline in the number of native speakers and a progressive erosion of the dialect’s underpinning in the community. Hence, this location presents many cultural, social and economic repercussions to be explored. By reporting on the usage of, and attitudes to, the dialect spoken by cross-border workers, the chapter gives a baseline to which future studies may refer in order to track ongoing developments in cross-border workers’ use of the Rhenish-Franconian variety within this border region between France and Germany

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