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Last modified: Monday, April 21, 2008

Government of Quebec honors IU scholar of French language usage in North America

April 21, 2008

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Albert Valdman, Rudy Professor emeritus of French, Italian and linguistics, has been honored by the government of Quebec Province in Canada for his work to foster better understanding of the use of the French language in North America.

Albert Valdman

Albert Valdman

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Valdman, a specialist in linguistics and the study of French outside of France, was received into the Ordre des francophones d'Amérique.

This honor was bestowed by the Conseil supérieur de la langue française (High Council of the French Language), the Quebec institution that oversees the province's language policy. It recognized Valdman and the contribution of IU's French Linguistics graduate program and the Creole Institute in pioneering research on French in the Americas.

"Professor Albert Valdman has dedicated his exceptional career to the French language in North America," said Conrad Ouellon, president of the Conseil supérieur de la langue française. "Unwilling to accept that the varieties of French spoken by millions of American Francophones be considered inferior to other varieties of French in the world, he has devoted his energy to the recognition of these unique varieties of French as well as to the documentation of their characteristics."

In response, Valdman said, "I am deeply honored by the recognition of my contribution to the documentation of American varieties of French and the teaching of French in our country.

"I would be remiss, however, if I did not share this honor with my colleagues in the French linguistics program, particularly Julie Auger and Kevin Rottet, who are ranking specialists in the description of French in North American and the sociolinguistic theory and methodology on which that work depends," he added. "Also, I would acknowledge a debt of gratitude to my doctoral students who have extended -- and improved upon -- my work on North American varieties of French and the pedagogy of French as a foreign language."

The Creole Institute, which Valdman directs, has published a Haitian Creole-English Bilingual Dictionary. Funded by a Title VI U.S. federal grant, the dictionary is the most thorough and extensive dictionary for the language.

Last year, Valdman also received a prestigious Andrew W. Mellon Emeritus Fellowship to support production of a dictionary of Louisiana Regional French, which is in an advanced stage of language loss. Valdman also received an award of $300,000 from the National Science Foundation for sociolinguistic research on Haitian Creole.

The ceremony took place at the National Assembly of the Province of Quebec on March 12. Among those present were Régis Labeaume, the mayor of Quebec City, and two ministers of the government of Quebec Province.

The Quebec Conseil also recognized Valdman's role in the teaching of French in the United States. Teaching materials he has produced, some in collaboration with graduates of the French Linguistic program, have had a major impact at the high school and college levels. As director of basic language instruction in French for many years, Valdman instituted a teacher training program whose excellence is recognized nationally.

The journal he founded 30 years ago and still edits, Studies in Second Language Acquisition, published by Cambridge University Press, ranks as one of the leading publications in the field. Valdman has served as vice president and president of the American Association of Teachers of French.