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Unit information: The French Language: Structures and Varieties in 2015/16

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Unit name The French Language: Structures and Varieties
Unit code FREN20044
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Damien Mooney
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of French
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

This unit introduces students to the study of French linguistics and focuses on the techniques and problems involved in the structural, sociolinguistic, and stylistic description of the French language. Firstly, students will develop their analytical knowledge of French grammar and pronunciation through the systematic study of the linguistic structure of French. Topics in this part of the unit will cover the French sound system, phonetic transcription, the modal use of the subjunctive, the complex and changing relationships between the past tenses, word creation, and French word order. In the second part of the unit, students will familiarise themselves with the many varieties of French, covering topics in register or socio-situational variation, written versus spoken French, loan words and borrowings, regional variation in French, and French sociolinguistics.


  1. To introduce students to the key frameworks used in the analysis of linguistic structure (grammar and pronunciation) with specific reference to French;
  2. To develop students’ existing analytical knowledge of the French language, while introducing salient theoretical and methodological issues involved in its description and analysis;
  3. To provide students with an understanding of the main dimensions of variability in language structure and of they ways in which these affect language use.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Successful students will have, on completion of the unit:

  1. acquired the necessary skills to examine and study language in a systematic way;
  2. a good knowledge of the internal linguistic structure of French and of the frameworks within which pronunciation and grammar are analysed;
  3. a knowledge of social, stylistic and geographical variation in French;
  4. an understanding of the theoretical frameworks within which variation is analysed.

Teaching Information

1 plenary hour (Lecture)

1 seminar hour

Assessment Information

One 2000 word essay (50%) testing ILOs 1-4 and one two-hour exam (50%) testing ILOs 1-4.

Reading and References

Ayres-Bennett, W., and J. Carruthers, with R. M. Temple. 2001. Problems and Perspectives: Studies in the Modern French Language (Harlow: Longman).

Battye, A., Hintze, M-A., and P. Rowlett. 2000. The French Language Today (London: Routledge).

Fagyal, Z., Kibbee, D., and F. Jenkins. 2006. French: A Linguistic Introduction (Cambridge: CUP).

Price, G. 2005. An Introduction to French Pronunciation (Oxford: Blackwell).

Sanders, C. (ed.). 1993. French Today: Language in its Social Context (Cambridge: CUP).

Walter, H. 1988. Le français dans tous les sens (Paris: Robert Laffont).