Title page for ETD etd-04062009-195507

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Riviere, Andrew Mandell
Author's Email Address arivie2@tigers.lsu.edu, andrew.riviere@gmail.com
URN etd-04062009-195507
Title Turn-Taking and Gaze Behavior Among Cajun French and Cajun English Speakers in Avoyelles Parish
Degree Master of Arts (M.A.)
Department French Studies
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Caroline Nash Committee Chair
Herve Cassan Committee Member
Sylvie Dubois Committee Member
  • gaze behavior
  • pragmatics
  • turn-taking
  • culture
  • culture shift
  • Cajun French
  • Cajun English
  • Louisiana
  • Avoyelles Parish
Date of Defense 2009-03-27
Availability unrestricted
Languages are the verbal and non-verbal codes of a culture. A culture houses a language(s) and is comprised of the gaze and distance/use of personal sphere. Linguists and anthropologists have long since argued over which takes priority: culture or language. French and Louisiana are synonymous: it is unimaginable to picture Louisiana without French because French constitutes the culture in Louisiana. Since linguists have debated the priority of language or culture, looking at Louisiana within the confines of this debate proves informative.

The language shift forced upon the residents of South Louisiana by the 1921 State Legislature made English the sole language of the state. This study will examine the possibility of a culture shift brought about by the language shift. If the previous culture was assimilated into the new language, researchers could infer that culture precedes language.

The purpose of this pragmatic study was to analyze the gaze behavior patterns in turn-taking among speakers of Cajun English in Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana. By analyzing these behaviors, precedence of culture over language can be inferred. The study consisted of ten participants: seven were from Avoyelles, and the other three constituted a control group.

According to the data, the Cajun English participants exhibited the gaze behavior patterns demonstrated by French speakers as described by Nash. The Cajun English participants did not show the same patterns as speakers of Standard American English and/or Southern Alabama English, strengthening the argument that culture constitutes language and is more primitive. The results show that culture precedes language in the pragmatic realm of language.

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