DS08 - Sociétés innovantes, intégrantes et adaptatives

The Linguistic Crescent: A Multidisciplinary Approach to a Contact Area between Occitan and Oïl Varieties – CROISSANT

Submission summary

Situated on the Northern Fringe of the Massif Central (France), the Linguistic Crescent encompasses parts of the following French departments: Eastern Charente, the Southern edges of Vienne, Indre and Cher, the Northern margins of Haute-Vienne, Creuse and Puy de Dôme, and South Allier). On a map, this strip of land has the shape of a half-moon, hence its name (first used by Ronjat in 1913). The Crescent is an area where the local gallo-romance varieties simultaneously display typical Oïl (French, Poitevin-Saintongeais, Berrichon) and Occitan (Limousin and Auvergnat) features. Today, these local varieties remain largely underdescribed, mainly due to their dual nature, which has made the specialists of the two main gallo-romance entities which adjoin the Crescent (i.e. Oïl in the North and Occitan in the South) equally reluctant to include them in their respective areas of expertise. The aim of this project is to provide a multidisciplinary approach to these now endangered varieties (whose majority of speakers are above 70 years old) with the following main lines of research : (1) the building of a multi-dialectal corpus comprising with (i) oral texts and (ii) video documents collected all across the Crescent area and stored in accordance with the usual practices in today's documentary linguistics (data transcribed in ELAN, metadata in ARBIL, systematic use of language-processing methods); (2) a comparative approach to the Crescent varieties, covering several tens of investigation points, including both phonological, lexical and morphological data and using a reference database in combination with mapping applications; (3) description (fieldwork) and typological analysis (especially in the domains of acoustics, prosody, morphology and formal semantics) resorting to promising, up-to-date methodological and theoretical frameworks (e.g. processing of audio data through Praat or similar software, modeling of verb paradigms by means of NetLog); (4) characterization with regard to neighboring (oc/oïl) varieties; (5) psycholinguistic studies of French/local language bilingual speakers by testing the sensitivity of these speakers to different parameters such as stress, vowel length and quality ; (6) sociolinguistic study of the representations associated with the Crescent varieties. These actions are designed to document and enhance before it is too late as much as possible of this rich, largely unexplored linguistic heritage by making available open-access data (available through HumaNum), high-level scientific publications as well as helping local communities to take advantage of their own cultural resources (the project will be developed in close partnership with cultural associations established in the Crescent area and will actively support the local dissemination of the scientific results through meetings and other appropriated events). The project team includes many of today's specialists of Crescent varieties; in addition to these, it also includes other researchers enjoying a high degree of recognition in their respective fields of expertise and who have decided to devote some of their research time to the Crescent, due to the particular interest of this topic for their own investigations.

Project coordination

Nicolas QUINT (Laboratoire Langage, langues et cultures d'Afrique noire)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


LIMSI Laboratoire d'Informatique pour la Mécanique et les Sciences de l'Ingénieur
CNRS UMR 8135 LLACAN Laboratoire Langage, langues et cultures d'Afrique noire

Help of the ANR 250,486 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: December 2017 - 48 Months

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