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Italian, from ethnic language, to foreign language, to “lingua franca” in Lorraine, a traditional migratory region

Abstract : This thesis investigates the increased interest in learning Italian at primary school level in Lorraine, whose migration background has contributed to shaping its present social structure marked by a wide cultural and linguistic diversity.The role currently played by Italian in the educational setting in Lorraine, with a focus on its transformation from ethnic language to foreign language, and then to an assumingly new ‘lingua franca’, is analysed by reconstructing the relationship between the historical and socio-demographic patterns of the past Italian migration flows in Lorraine and of the slowly gained status by the Italian language within the French institutions, In the context of students’ already varied multilingual repertoires, the role played by Italian is investigated in terms of its contribution to young people’s need to develop symbolic belonging and identity, and also to social integration.Drawing from the theories of foreign language learning and sociolinguistics, attention is focused on the relationship between linguistic and social facts. The notion of representation observed in the investigated sample with reference to the identity-building role played by the language enables to identify the reasons behind the choice to learn Italian both by children of Italian origins and others mainly with an immigrant background in the wake of the recent migration waves, who are experiencing difficulties in integrating into the French society.Following an inductive-interpretative approach, the research process is based on data collection and in-depth analysis in a specific context, then gradually extended to the varied geographical and socio-economic situations of the entire region, with the aim of comparing data collected at micro-level with a wider reality.This research concludes that Italian has gained the status of a new ‘lingua franca’ providing for freedom of expression and enhancing the personal identity-building process, for the benefit of both children of distant Italian origins – who are thus able to trace back their roots and identify with the positive reputation enjoyed by this language – and of children whose families have recently settled in France mainly from countries under the former colonial empire. The latter, in particular, have come to consider Italian as their adoptive language helping them to improve their social status and to better integrate in their host country.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, September 9, 2020 - 10:28:07 AM
Last modification on : Friday, September 2, 2022 - 10:49:29 AM

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Chiara Bonetti. Italian, from ethnic language, to foreign language, to “lingua franca” in Lorraine, a traditional migratory region. Sociology. Université de Lorraine; Università degli studi (Milan, Italie), 2020. Italian. ⟨NNT : 2020LORR0024⟩. ⟨tel-02934269⟩



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