In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Francophonie

  • Introduction
  • Reference Works
  • Journals
  • The International Organization of the Francophonie (OIF)

Anthropology Francophonie
Kathe Managan
  • LAST REVIEWED: 28 October 2014
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 October 2014
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199766567-0086


The term “Francophonie” can be used to refer broadly to French-speaking areas, especially those outside of France, or specifically to the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (International Organization of the Francophonie), or OIF, and its members. Some writers distinguish between the institution of the OIF and the broader French-speaking world by capitalizing the term “Francophonie” when referring to the organization, and not capitalizing the term when referring to French-speaking areas more generally. Scholarly literature frequently addresses the fact that the francophonie owes its existence to French colonialism, which creates tensions within the official organization and within the wider French-speaking world. The OIF seeks to foster cultural, technical, and economic exchange between its fifty-seven member states and governments along with twenty observer states and governments. In 1970 the signing of a treaty in Niger created the l’Agence de coopération culturelle et technique (ACCT, or “Agency for Cultural and Technical Cooperation”), which was later renamed the OIF. The founding organizers were Léopold Sédar Senghor of Senegal, Habib Bourguiba of Tunisia, Hamani Diori of Niger, and Prince Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia; all were leaders of former French colonies not long after many of these countries had gained their independence. Several French social scientists have written about the OIF, but to date, no anthropologist has studied the organization. Sociolinguists, linguistic anthropologists, and cultural anthropologists have, however, worked on issues related to language or culture in francophone areas. A network of such scholars formed the French studies interest group of the Society for the Anthropology of Europe within the American Anthropological Association and organized a series of panels at the American Anthropological Association Annual Meetings in 2004, 2005, and 2011.

This article contains a section on the OIF, but focuses on studies of French language and culture. Since each francophone area has its own historical and political dynamics and set of scholarly debates, this article divides the sections up by region, arranged in chronological order from the emergence of French as a standard language of nation, then empire, through the first French colonies in the Americas to the later colonial projects in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and the Pacific. The literature contributes to important topics in linguistic anthropology and sociolinguistics, including bilingualism, code-switching, language and identity, and ideologies of language, engaging in particular with literature on colonialism, postcolonialism, nationalism, and neoliberalism.

Reference Works

Several Internet sources, including the websites of francophone institutions and government agencies, provide information about the francophonie. For information about the Francophonie, the website for the International Organization of the Francophonie (OIF) is indispensible. The Académie Française, the French institution created as the authority on the language standard, has its own website. The Reseau Francophone de Sociolinguistique (“Francophone Sociolinguistics Network”) has a website that provides links to the Bibliographie Sociolinguistique Francophone (“Sociolinguistic Francophone Bibliography”) and to databases of francophone theses from France, Canada, and Madagascar. The Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie (“Agency for the Francophonie at the University Level”) offers an online library with many works that include PDF copies of print dictionaries for several regional languages. There exist several other dictionaries of regional French languages spoken in the francophonie. Valdman, et al. 2010 presents the broad spectrum of Louisiana French, covering areas that have received less scholarly attention, based on extensive fieldwork and archival sources. The earlier Daigle 1993 was the first dictionary of Louisiana French, but only focuses on one variety of French and has a more limited area of coverage than Valdman, et al. 2010. Valdman, et al. 1998 is the only comprehensive dictionary of Louisiana Creole. It covers the four main areas where Creole is spoken in Louisiana and provides an introduction that explains when and how Creole emerged in Louisiana and how it is spoken alongside French and English. Telchid 1997 provides a useful reference for the regional French of Guadeloupe and Martinique. The Office Québecois de la Langue Français (“Quebec Office of the French Language”) provides an online dictionary that offers users the possibility to type in a word in European French or English and see the preferred Québecois word for it, with a discussion of the word. Primarily designed to assure that French in the public sphere in Quebec conforms to a standard, it is nonetheless helpful for anyone seeking a term in Québecois.

  • Académie Française.

    The official website of the authority on French language in France. Includes information about its history, current events it sponsors, and its official dictionary.

  • Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie. Actualités Linguistiques Francophones.

    Provides PDF files of several dictionaries created in its series in its online library of regional varieties of French. Dictionaries are available for Reunion Island, Mauritius, Burundi, New Caledonia, Central African Republic, and Guinée.

  • Bibliographie Sociolinguistique Francophone.

    Edited by Thierry Bulot, a web-based bibliography of sociolinguistic works written in French, including books, book chapters, and journal articles. Arranged as a database, you may search the bibliography by author, year, keyword, and title. Does not include full text or a direct link to the publication.

  • Daigle, Jules. 1993. Dictionary of the Cajun language. Ville Platte, LA: Swallow.

    The first dictionary of Louisiana French, focusing on the variety spoken in the Cajun community. Written by a Catholic priest who also published a book and CD program to teach oneself Cajun French.

  • International Organization of the Francophonie.

    Official website of the OIF. Contains information about the history of the organization, its current activities, and news about member states. Also includes a multimedia library with copies of its official publications along with photographs and video clips.

  • Office Québecois de la Langue Français. Le grand dictionnaire terminologique.

    Online interactive dictionary provided by the Quebec Office for the French Language, a government institution whose mission is to promote French as an everyday language in Quebec. Allows users to type in a word in French or English (and a few other languages) and see the preferred terminology in Québecois.

  • Reseau Francophone de Sociolinguistique.

    Provides information about the organization and its conference. Contains links to other francophone scholarly resources, including databases of francophone theses from France, Canada, and Madagascar.

  • Telchid, Sylviane. 1997. Dictionnaire du Français Régional des Antilles. Paris: Bonneton.

    Dictionary of lexical items common in French as spoken in Guadeloupe and Martinique, with a translation into French.

  • Valdman, Albert, Thomas A. Klingler, and Margaret M. Marshall. 1998. Dictionary of Louisiana Creole. Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press.

    A comprehensive dictionary of Louisiana Creole spoken in four regions of Louisiana. Includes an introduction explaining the grammar and the origins of the language as well as the contact with varieties of French spoken in Louisiana. Entries include examples of usage in context, identified by source parish.

  • Valdman, Albert, Kevin J. Rottet, Barry Jean Ancelet, et al., eds. 2010. Dictionary of Louisiana French: As spoken in Cajun, Creole, and American Indian communities. Jackson: Univ. Press of Mississippi.

    A comprehensive dictionary of Louisiana French, as spoken by different communities in Louisiana. Includes lexical items written in French with standard French orthography, a guide to pronunciation in IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet), English translation, and examples of usage taken from texts or fieldwork, with the source parish identified.

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