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Meridional French (French: français méridional), is a regional variant of the French language. It is strongly influenced by Occitan and so widely spoken in Occitania. It is also referred to as Francitan.
Speakers of Meridional French can be found in all generations, but the accent is more pronounced among the elderly, who often speak Occitan as their first language.
Meridional French is affected by Occitan in a number of ways, including its phonology, morphology, syntax, and lexicon. Perhaps most salient, however, are the phonological effects of the language, resulting in the characteristic accent of Meridional French speakers. The effects have been characterized in part as a loss of phonemic nasal vowels, replaced instead with an oral vowel followed by a nasal consonant; the frequent realization of schwa as a stand-in for Latin's final atonal vowel, lost by speakers of other varieties of French; and the presence of a lexical stress on the penultimate syllable in many words, in contrast to Standard French's final phrase stress.
Meridional French is also subject to a phonological law known as the Law of Position. The principle is strictly adhered to by speakers of Meridional French, in contrast to speakers of other varieties of French: mid vowels are subject to allophonic variation based on the shape of their syllables. A mid-open vowel will be realized in a closed syllable (one ending in a consonant), and a mid-close vowel will be realized in an open syllable (one ending in a vowel). The phenomenon has been shown to be somewhat more complex, however, as shown by Durand (1995), Eychenne (2006), and Chabot (2008).
- Lexical (or word-based) stress is used, unlike the prosodic stress of Standard French.
- Nasal vowels are lost and are replaced with an oral vowel followed by a nasal consonant (pain (bread) is pronounced [ˈpɛŋ], and timbre (stamp) is pronounced [ˈtɛmbʁə]).
- The "e caduc" is always pronounced, even at the end of words; for example, cerise (cherry) is pronounced [səˈʁizə] and tête (head) is pronounced [ˈtɛtə].
- In closed syllables, /o/ merges with /ɔ/, /ø/ merges with /œ/; notre and nôtre are both pronounced as [ˈnɔtʁə], jeune and jeûne are both pronounced as [ˈʒœnə].
The dialect has some peculiar vocabulary, such as péguer (Occitan pegar), "to be sticky" (Standard French poisser), chocolatine (Southwest), "pain au chocolat", or flute (a bigger baguette, called pain parisien (parisian bread) in Paris).
Some phrases can have a meaning different from what they would usually mean in French. For example, s'il faut, literally meaning "if necessary", actually means "maybe" (which would be rendered in standard French as peut-être). That is a calque of Occitan se cal.
- Chabot, Alex (2004). "Suprasegmental Structure in Meridional French and its Provençal Substrate" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-12-19.
- Durand, Jacques (1995). "Alternances vocaliques en français du midi et phonologie du gouvernement". Lingua. 95 (1-3): 27–50. doi:10.1016/0024-3841(95)90100-0.
- Eychenne, Julien (2006). "Aspects de la phonologie du schwa dans le français contemporain. Optimalité, visibilité prosodique, gradience." (PDF) (in French). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2015-07-22. Retrieved 2015-07-22.