Pluricentricity and sociolinguistic relationships between French, English and indigenous Languages in New Caledonia
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This paper examines language attitudes in New Caledonia, where French, a pluricentric language, comes in contact with indigenous Melanesian languages and Tayo, a French-based Creole. Results from a recent sociolinguistic study reveal that whilst indigenous languages are valued as cultural heritage, there is a noticeable shift from these non-dominant languages towards French in the domestic context, particularly in younger generations living in urban areas. French has official status and is the vehicular language perceived as the cement that unites the whole population. English, another pluricentric language with a dominant role in the Pacific, is non -dominant in New Caledonia, and for most a foreign language. The relationship between French and the indigenous languages is one of classic diglossia, where French has the higher status. The first section of this paper gives a brief overview of the social history and language situation in New Caledonia. It then examines patterns oflanguage use in multilingual context. Finally it explores social attitudes towards French, English and non-dominant vernaculars through a questionnaire and interview on the eve of the independence referendum.