It is often claimed that France is a particularly purist country; the Académie française is seen to be representative of a purist outlook and popular works such as Étiemble's attack on English influence Parlez vous franglais? (Étiemble, 1964) have served to bolster this view. However, this claim has not been empirically verified. In order to determine whether or not the rhetoric around purism in France matches the reality, we developed a questionnaire to investigate whether or not ordinary speakers of French in France are purist, taking the theoretical framework in George Thomas's Linguistic Purism as a base (Thomas, 1991). This questionnaire was distributed online to a random sample of participants in France. To contextualise the findings, the questionnaire was also distributed to French speakers in Quebec. The results of the study show that, contrary to expectations, the French respondents display only mild purism and the Québécois respondents are more purist in the face of English borrowings (external purism). However, the French respondents are more concerned with the structure or ‘quality’ of the French language itself (internal purism) than their Québécois counterparts. This study also highlights some problems with Thomas's framework, which requires some modification for future research.
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