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Dominique Ryon, PhD - French Language Attrition in Cajun Louisiana

For over 20 years, Dominique Ryon, PhD, has researched and studied the communities of French-speaking peoples in North America. Today, she is one of the leading experts in the field of sociolinguistics on the subject of language attrition among French-speaking communities in eastern Canada, upper New England, and Louisiana. Language attrition is a technical term that most often refers to a person’s loss of linguistic proficiency in a first language (L1, the “mother tongue”) after migrating to an area where a second language is more dominant. Likewise, language attrition may also occur when a native (L1) language speaker learns a second language and it interferes with proper or accepted usage of the native language, either lexically, grammatically, or otherwise. A good example of language attrition is the Cajun subculture of Louisiana, comprised of roughly 250,000 speakers at one point, which is growing smaller with each passing generation, resulting in the loss of Cajun French as a language due to the more dominant English-speaking communities that surround the Cajun heartland.

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