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The University of Southampton

FREN2018 Exploring French Linguistics

Module Overview

This module explores the French language from different perspectives in linguistics.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • how French relates to other European languages;
  • the sound system of French;
  • word formation in French;
  • regularity in verb formation
  • French sentence structure.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • engage with theoretical concepts in relation to French;
  • appreciate critically key notions in linguistics;
  • critically assess traditional approaches to French grammar;
  • organise and present information in an academic way.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • demonstrate understanding of elements of theory which can be applied to the study of other languages;
  • work effectively in different modes: carrying out individual research, collaborating with partners in seminars, exchanging ideas, presenting findings;
  • present ideas in a structured, coherent manner.
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • access critical material in the target language;
  • be informed of how knowledge from the course can be beneficial to learning and using French.


This module explores the French language from different perspectives in linguistics. It serves to provide an insight into the workings of the French language (from sound systems to structure and its acquisition) and also to provide useful understandings of many of the pitfalls of French (solving the myth of irregular verbs, understanding how spelling really helps with pronunciation). The following content will be covered: • The first lecture will set the scene for the sessions to come, looking at French as a language among others (language families), setting it in the European and world contexts. It will also include an introduction to French linguistics with some historical aspects, landmarks and important names. • Then, the sound patterns of contemporary French are explored in some detail, with particular reference to differences between French and English articulation, current changes in French pronunciation, and various well-known regional accents. We will spend some time looking at the links between orthography (writing) and the sounds of the language. • Various aspects of the French vocabulary are studied. An overview is provided of the main sources of vocabulary in French, and we look at the ways in which French creates new words and expressions. • Aspects of verb morphology will be looked at, and in particular the notion of “irregular verb”. • The final sessions will focus on elements of structure in French. Comparisons will be made with English. The focus will be on areas of structure that typically cause problems for learners of French as a foreign language.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

This course constitutes an introduction to the workings of the French language. It encourages you to think more deeply about how French works, and will engage you in analytical thinking about the language you are learning. Lectures will serve to introduce ideas, concepts and theories, and seminars will provide the occasion to explore these further and to engage with them critically. Teaching methods include: • 1 lecture and 1 seminar per week. Learning activities include: • Individual reading, collaborative research and practical exercises and reflection.

Independent Study126
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Antes, T. (2007). Analyse Linguistique de la Langue Francaise. 

Battye, A. & Hintze, A.-M (2000). The French Language Today. 

Fagyal, Z., Kibbee, D., and Jenkins, F (2006). French: A linguistic introduction. 

Lodge, R., Shelton, J., Ellis, Y., & Armstrong, N (1997). Exploring the French Language. 


Assessment Strategy

Formative assessments designed to provide informal, on-module feedback: • Mid-semester review of progress and comment on outline of coursework. The course work assignment, an investigative project, will provide an opportunity for you to explore one of the specific areas in more detail, through investigation, collaboration and analysis of both data and theory. It will encourage you to follow your own research paths based on the ideas, concepts and theories introduced in the lectures and seminars. The end of course exam is intended to keep up interest in all areas in the course (something which may suffer in the case of 100% coursework), and provides a forum for addressing the course as a whole. The emphasis here is on combining factual information with critical assessment and argumentation as an academic exercise.


MethodPercentage contribution
Assignment 25%
Assignment 25%
Project  (2500 words) 50%


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework 50%
Project  ( words) 50%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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