Carnegie Mellon University
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La Loi Toubon: Language Policy and Linguistic and Cultural Diversity in France

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posted on 2019-02-28, 19:42 authored by Mary Catherine DevineMary Catherine Devine
This thesis is about language policy and planning in France. Through tracing the origins of the French language and policies, I demonstrate that language policy has historically been utilized to standardize and regulate French usage in order to centralize governmental power and influence. In turn, the French language became a key component of having a French national and cultural identity. However, after World War II, the rise of English and American dominance threatened the status of the French language. I therefore argue that there was a shift in French language policy following the increasing presence of English in France, which culminated with the passing of La Loi Toubon in 1994. La Loi Toubon ensured that French translations must be present in the public sector. While many French linguistic purists supported La Loi Toubon as a means to protect the status of French, the results from an online survey sent in Fall 2016 represent an additional shift in attitudes surrounding the role of the French language in being a key component of French history and culture. I therefore additionally argue that among a demographic of highly educated and multilingual individuals, there exists a shift in attitudes about French language policy that supports linguistic and cultural diversity.





Rémi A. van Compernolle


  • Modern Languages

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