A Sociolinguistic Profile of the Gallo Speech Community
Chrimes, Adrian Paul
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
This study investigates the role of the speech community in maintaining obsolescent languages in general, and Gallo in particular. A questionnaire was designed to elicit information from the Gallo speech community in three key areas: speakers’ beliefs regarding their own use of language, speakers’ attitudes towards Gallo and its status, and speaker’s own proficiency in Gallo. The sample for this study was obtained through Gallo social networks which were identified and contacted thanks to the support of Gallo organisations based in Rennes. The questionnaire was administered to a mixture of older native speakers, employed semi-speakers and student-aged learners of Gallo. The results show that level of education remains the main factor affecting speaker attitudes and language use. Speakers with higher levels of education tend to be the ones engaged in revitalisation efforts while speakers with less education maintain a distance from such activities as well as a strong allegiance to the national language. The study also highlighted the division within the speech community concerning orthographic convention. Although a highly distinct written form is viewed by some as essential to distancing Gallo from French, it would seem that the majority of the speech community prefers accessibility over distanciation. This study provides insight into the impact which a speech community can have on the vitality or obsolescence of a variety. In the case of Gallo, it shows how a group of determined individuals can be influential in maintaining an obsolescent variety despite strong and continued pressure from official institutions.
PhD in French