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Vous or tu? Native and non-native speakers of French on a sociolinguistic tightrope

Abstract

Sociolinguistic rules governing choice of pronouns of address are notoriously difficult in French, despite the fact that the number of variants is rather limited: the more formal vous versus the more informal tu. Children with French as L1 learn to use pronouns of address appropriately as part of their socialization process. The learning curve is much steeper for instructed learners of French and many never reach the summit. The present contribution focuses on the effects of situational and sociobiographical variables on the self-reported and actual use of pronouns of address in native and non-native French. Data on self-reported pronoun use in different situations were collected from 125 participants through a written questionnaire. A corpus of conversations between native (n = 9) and non-native (n = 52) speakers of French provided data on the actual use of address pronouns

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