The Department of French and Italian

Carl S Blyth

Associate ProfessorPhD, French Linguistics, Cornell University

Associate Professor, French Linguistics
Carl S Blyth



Applied linguistics (instructional technology, corpus linguistics, pedagogical grammar); French sociolinguistics (style, stance and interaction); Discourse studies (narrative analysis, cultural scripts, indexicality)


I am an applied linguist with a background in interactional sociolinguistics, pragmatics and technology.  My research interests lie at the intersection of language, culture and  interaction.  In particular, I am interested in cross-cultural and intercultural online interaction.  Currently, I am examining online discussions between French and American college students taken from Cultura, an on-going telecollaboration between MIT and various French universities.  The general goal of my study is to demonstrate how miscommunication arises in cross-cultural discussions between French and American interlocutors who are largely unaware that their different cultures possess divergent "stance scripts," that is, culture-specific ways of expressing an opinion.  The ultimate goal of this kind of pragmatic research is to identify the elements of conversational behaviors that index cultural ways of thinking and performing.  Interest in the study of cross-cultural and intercultural stancetaking is growing due to the rapid expansion of the multilingual Internet.  Once dominated by English speakers, the Internet is now a rampantly multilingual/multicultural social space.  As a result, there are many new social contexts for multilingual and multicultural communication (e.g., chat rooms, virtual communities, etc.). While the rise of the Internet has made it easier to contact people from different cultures,  cross-cultural intersubjectivity remains a challenge in online contexts.

In addition to cross-cultural communication, I am also interested in the use of digital tools and social media to facilitate collaborative social action (e.g., Wikipedia, open textbooks, etc. ).  In particular, I am exploring the use of eComma, textual  annotation software developed in the English Department at the University of Texas.  In modern literate societies, reading is conceptualized as a private, mental act that typically involves one reader and one text.  But today technology enables the synchronous reading of the same text by a large group of people who share their comments with each other as part of a collaborative meaning-making process.  The goal of the eComma project is to understand how second language readers build collaborative commentaries of a given L2 text with the aid of this web-based annotation software.  I have also worked with my departmental colleagues and graduate students over the years to build a suite of online pedagogical materials for French (e.g., Tex's French Grammar, a pedagogical reference grammar; and Français interactif, a 'blended learning' environment for beginning French). 

Finally, I direct the Center for Open Educational Resources and Language Learning (COERLL), one of 15 federally-funded foreign language resource centers around the country.  COERLL's mission is to produce and disseminate Open Educational Resources (OERs) for the Internet public (e.g., online language courses, reference grammars, assessment tools, corpora, etc.). The term OER refers to any educational material offered freely for anyone to use, typically involving some permission to re-mix, improve, and redistribute. Thus, COERLL seeks to promote a culture of collaboration that lies at the heart of the Open Education movement.   In addition, COERLL aims to reframe foreign language education in terms of multilingualism. As such, all COERLL resources strive to represent more accurately language development and performance along dialectal and proficiency continua.


FR 359 • French Textual Linguistics

35950 • Spring 2016
Meets TTH 930am-1100am MEZ 2.102


FR359 French Text Linguistics | Spring 2016

Dr. Carl Blyth

Course description


Text linguistics is a branch of linguistics that deals with written as well as oral texts as communication systems. As such, text linguistics goes beyond traditional approaches to grammar by taking into account patterns found above the level of the sentence, the traditional boundary of linguistic analysis.  Furthermore, text linguistics examines how a text is situated in an interactional, communicative context. Traditional approaches to the study of literary texts typically model text analysis as an interpretive activity.  However, in this course, students will learn to explain textual patterns as part of a social system for making meaning, a linguistic and cultural system shared by francophones. In other words, rather than focus on what a text means, this course will focus on how a text means, that is, the effect on the reader/listener that results from the choices made by writers/speakers in the construction of a text.

Aimed at students who have studied French literature but who have little or no formal knowledge of linguistics, the course covers major concepts in textual analysis: genre, register, and cohesion/coherence. This course presents a variety of “tools” that can be employed in the analysis of French texts. The course’s analytical toolkit derives from systemic functional linguistics, a branch of linguistics whose purported aim is to unpack textual meaning.  Systemic Functional Linguistics views language as a meaning-making resource and focuses on how language itself is organized to enable the expression of certain meanings.  Concepts will be exemplified using many different types of French texts, including literary and non-literary works (e.g., short stories, prose poems, commercials, political speeches, blogs).  Finally, students will be introduced to a few, easy-to-use computer tools well-known in the digital humanities (e.g., annotation freeware, concordance programs, visualization software).  In brief, the main goal of this course is to give students hands-on experience in the careful analysis of a wide range of French texts taken from academic and everyday settings. [NB: The textbook and some secondary readings will in English, but all primary texts will be in French.  The course will be conducted in French).


List of Texts


  • Eggins, Suzanne. 2005. An Introduction to Systemic Functional Linguistics. London: Continuum. (Available from Amazon)
  • Readings in French posted on Canvas (links to online texts as well as PDFs)




  • Participation (in class discussion, discussion board, peer-editing)       10%
  • Assignments (6 analyses of different French texts)                           60%
  • Final Project  (in-depth analysis of a French text of your choice)        25%
  • Oral Presentation (brief summary of final project)                              5%

FR 392K • Discourse Analysis

36110 • Spring 2015
Meets TTH 200pm-330pm MEZ 1.104

FR392K Computer Mediated Discourse Analysis 


Computer-mediated discourse analysis (CMDA) is a framework for studying online behavior as viewed through the lens of language. Despite its linguistic origins (e.g., conversation analysis, interactional sociolinguistics, pragmatics, critical discourse analysis), CMDA shares many affinities with literary, literary and rhetorical approaches to texts. CMDA organizes research methods and issues around four domains of language: structure (typography, orthography, morphology, and syntax), meaning (speaker intention and illocutionary force), interaction (turn taking and discourse coherence), and social behavior (power, gender, and identity). 

 According to Susan Herring, the leading figure in the field, the “potential—and power—of CMDA is that it enables questions of broad social and psychological significance, including notions that would otherwise be intractable to empirical analysis, to be investigated with fine-grained empirical rigor.”  As such, we will explore CMDA studies that have analyzed a wide range of linguistic phenomena such as online word-formation processes, lexical choice, sentence structure, and language switching among bilingual speakers. In addition, we will read studies that address macro-level phenomena such as textual coherence, social affiliation, language learning, and online identities.

In addition to CMDA methods, we will explore interdisciplinary topics of current interest to L1 and L2 researchers:

•Digital Storytelling and “Serious Games”—the power of digital simulations

•Online Multilingualism—the rise of “linguistic superdiversity”

•Digital Literacies/Digital Humanities—the development of new literacy practices and genres

•Digital “Languacultures”—the culture specific patterns of online communication

•Language Play and Conceptual Blending—the creative forces behind online innovation

•Online Language Learning—digital environments designed to promote learning



Daily Preparation and Participation 25%

Discussant 10%

Critical Review of Research Articles 15%

Presentation of Research Paper 10%

Final Research Paper (including analysis of original data) 40%


FR 364L • Intro To French Linguistics

36985 • Fall 2014
Meets TTH 200pm-330pm MEZ 1.208

The goal of this course is to introduce you to linguistic methods of analysis by studying the structure of Modern French.  In addition, this course will lead you to consider many aspects of the French language that are not often explored in language courses, e.g.,  social variation as manifest in regional dialects and language ideologies.  As such, we will explore variation within French-speaking Europe as well as in Canada.  Emphasis will be placed on linguistic description (as opposed to prescription) in order to give you the tools you will need to describe the French language.  In other words, this is not a grammar course where you learn rules of "correct usage," but rather a course where you will learn how to formulate and test hypotheses based on linguistic data.  We will study all the levels of French, from the smallest to the biggest: sounds, words, phrases, discourses. Or, in more technical terms: phonemes, morphemes, phrase structures and speech acts.  Finally, you will be introduced to the subdisciplines of linguistics:  phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, sociolinguistics and pragmatics.

Grading system

Exams (4 x 15%) 60%

Homework            30%

Participation         10%

NB : No Final Exam



Le but de ce cours est de vous initier à l’analyse linguistique en dégageant la structure du français moderne.     L’étude de la langue vous mènera à des implications stylistiques, esthétiques, et sociales,   d’où des incursions dans les variations individuelles, dialectales et idéologiques.  Les variations du français de France, comme celles du Canada, occuperont une place importante dans ce cours.  On mettra l’emphase sur l’analyse descriptive (et non prescriptive) afin de vous fournir les outils pour mieux décrire la langue française dans tous ses états.  Autrement dit, ce n’est pas un cours de grammaire où on apprendra les règles de bon usage, mais plutôt un cours où on apprendra à formuler de bonnes hypothèses et de tester ces hypothèses avec des données linguistiques.  On étudiera tous les niveaux de structure linguistique—du plus petit au plus grand : les sons, les mots, les phrases et les discours.  Ou, en termes plus techniques : les phonèmes, les morphèmes, les syntagmes et les actes de paroles.  Vous recevra également une initiation aux sous-disciplines de la linguistique :  la phonétique, la phonologie, la morphologie, la syntaxe, la sémantique, la sociolinguistique et la pragmatique.


FR 392K • Pragmatics

37380 • Spring 2014
Meets TTH 200pm-330pm HRH 2.106C

FR392K  Ethnopragmatics: The Study of Language and Cultural Values (Dr. Carl Blyth)

 Ethnopragmatics (aka cross-cultural pragmatics) draws on, but is not limited to, the theoretical notions and analytical tools of several disciplines focused on human meaning-making: linguistics, anthropology (ethnography of speaking) and literary theory.  However, despite the interdisciplinary nature of the field, the course will concentrate on the work of three well-known ethnolinguists, Anna Wierzbicka, Cliff Goddard and Bert Peeters who contend  that norms of human interaction in different communities reflect different cultural attitudes and values. Their work offers a framework within which different cultural norms and different ways of speaking can be explored, explained, and taught.

Focusing on the concept of cultural meaning, this course seeks to explore how the construction and negotiation of meaning is culturally influenced.   In particular, the course will explore how cultural scripts prevailing in different speech communities can be described and compared by using a natural semantic metalanguage, based on empirically established universal human concepts.  One of the attractions of the natural semantic metalanguage is that it can be used equally for writing cultural scripts and for doing “cultural semantics,” thus enabling us to draw out the connections between them.

The cultural scripts approach is evidence-based, and while not disregarding evidence of other sources (ethnographic and sociological studies, literature, and so on) it places particular importance on linguistic evidence. Aside from the semantics of cultural key words, other kinds of linguistic evidence which can be particularly revealing of cultural norms and values include: common sayings and proverbs, frequent collocations, conversational routines and varieties of formulaic or semi-formulaic speech, discourse particles and interjections, and terms of address and reference—all highly ‘‘interactional’’ aspects of language. From a data gathering point of view, a wide variety of methods can be used, including the classical linguistic fieldwork techniques of elicitation, naturalistic observation, text analysis, and consultation with informants, native speaker intuition, corpus studies, and the use of literary materials and other cultural products. Finally, a central goal of this course will be to explore the practical applications of ethnopragmatic research for foreign language learning, intercultural education, and literary and translation studies. 


Active class involvement and preparation:                                                  20%    

Class assignments (critical reviews, data analyses, etc.):                               50%

Independent research project:                                                                  30% 


Primary Readings

Goddard, C. (ed.). 2004. Special edition of Intercultural Pragmatics 2-1. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Goddard, C. 2006. Ethnopragmatics: Understanding Discourse in Cultural Context. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. 

Quinn, N. (ed.). 2005.  Finding Culture in Talk: A Collection of Methods. London: Palgrave. 

Wierzbicka, A. 2003. Cross-cultural Pragmatics: The Semantics of Human Interaction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Secondary Readings (selected chapters only)

Biro, D. 2010. The Language of Pain: Finding Words, Compassion and Relief. New York: W.W. Norton.

Deutscher, G. 2010. Through the Language Glass: Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages. NY:Picador.

Hua, Z. 2013. Exploring Intercultural Communication: Language in Action. London/New York: Routledge.

Köveses, Z. 2006. Language, Mind and Culture: A Practical Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Lakoff, G. 1996. Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think.  Chicago: Chicago University Press.

Pinker, S. 2007. The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature. New York: Penguin Press.

Wierzbicka, A. 1997. Understanding Cultures Through Their Key Words. Oxford: Oxford University Press.







FR 364L • Intro To French Linguistics

36810 • Fall 2012
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm HRH 2.112

This course provides a complete examination of the French language, in French, at a level appropriate for non-native speakers and non-linguists.  It introduces students to linguistic analysis, using modern French as its target of study, and covering the linguistic subfields of phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics. This is not a grammar course where the emphasis is on learning the correct rules of "bon usage."  Rather, the goal of this course is to learn how to formulate and test hypotheses about the French language and thereby to understand the French language at a deeper, more conceptual level.  In addition, students will learn how to use practical language tools: bilingual dictionaries, phonetic alphabet, reference grammars.

FR 392K • Intro To Sociolinguistics

36775 • Spring 2012
Meets TTH 200pm-330pm HRH 2.112

FR 392K (36775) • Introduction to French Sociolinguistics • Dr. Carl Blyth

TTH 2 :00-3 :30 pm—Homer Rainey Hall 2.112  Seminar Room

Course Description

In this course, we will examine different forms of sociolinguistic research concerned with the intersection of language, culture, and society. This interdisciplinary field seeks to understand language as a social object.  But what does it mean to call language a social object ?  In this course, we will attempt to answer that question by approaching language from the point of view of its users.  At its most general, sociolinguistics focuses on how people use language for social purposes.  This social approach to language was articulated many years ago by the anthropological linguist Edward Sapir :

“It is peculiarly important that linguists, who are often accused, and accused justly, of failure to look beyond the pretty patterns of their subject matter, should become aware of what their science may mean for the interpretation of human conduct in general. Whether they like it or not, they must become increasingly concerned with the many anthropological, sociological, and psychological problems which invade the field of language.” [Sapir 1929:214]

In particular, the goal of the course is to acquaint students with sociolinguistic research on the French language.  As such, students will gain a better understanding of how French-speakers use their language(s) to construct and maintain relevant social distinctions in their communities. This course will be conducted in both French and English depending on the readings and the topic of discussion.  A working knowledge of French is therefore essential.

As an introduction to the field, we will also examine the relationships between different research approaches and determine how they illuminate different social aspects of language: corpus linguistic, ethnographic, interactionist,  sociocultural, social psychological and variationist.  We will discuss these approaches in terms of their theoretical assumptions, their linguistic foci (e.g., phonological, morphosyntactic, discursive) ; their methods of analysis (e.g., qualitative, quantitative or mixed) ; and their timescale of analysis (e.g., a single interaction, a sample of aggregated synchronic data from a speech community, a sample of diachronic data.).  Central topics to be discussed:

•Speech Communities and Social Networks

•Sociolinguistic Variation

•Verbal Culture/Ethnopragmatics

•Ethnography of Speaking

•Linguistic Politeness

•Gender and Language

•Language Politics/Language Policy

•Language Attitudes/Language Ideologies

•Computer Mediated Communication

Assignments will include the following : presentation of a research article, 2 field projects (data gathering and analysis) ; proposal of a research project (including abstract, literature review and outline of methodology).

Required Texts :

Wardaugh, R. (2010).  Introduction to Sociolinguistics (6th edition). Blackwell

Electronic reading packet (selected PDFs of recent journal articles on sociolinguistic aspects of the French language)

FR 364L • Intro To French Linguistics

36665 • Fall 2011
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm HRH 2.112

Introduction to the syntactic, phonological, morphological, lexical, historical, and applied aspects of French linguistics.

Prerequisite: Six semester hours of upper-division coursework in French.

FR 392K • Analyzing Language Variation

36965 • Spring 2011
Meets TTH 330pm-500pm MEZ 2.118

Coming soon.

Curriculum Vitae

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External Links

  • Department of French and Italian

    University of Texas at Austin
    201 W 21st Street STOP B7600
    HRH 2.114A
    Austin, TX 78712-1800