Le français écrit des peu-lettrés dans des ego-documents de la région frontalière franco-allemande pendant la Première Guerre mondiale

par Léna Sowada

Thèse de doctorat en Sciences du langage

Sous la direction de Agnès Steuckardt et de Sybille Grosse.

Le président du jury était Gilles Siouffi.

Les rapporteurs étaient Joachim Steffen, André Thibault.


  • Résumé

    Le concept ‘ego-document’, issu initialement de la recherche en Histoire, fut adopté et valorisé pour la recherche historique en France dans des travaux portant sur les écrits du for privé des XVIe et XVIIIe siècles ou sur les Livres de raison, caractérisés comme témoignages écrits de la vie privée et de l’existence sociale de l’homme. Pour la linguistique, les ego-documents en tant que textes libre et indépendamment écrits présentent une approche prometteuse étant donné que ces documents mettent en scène les expériences subjectives des scripteurs de leur point de vue personnel. Les ego-documents focalisent l’homme dans des conditions de vie quotidiennes et se prêtent donc à une analyse des habitudes et compétences tant scripturales que discursives, non pas des intellectuels lettrés sinon des gens ordinaires qui jusqu’à présent ne faisaient que rarement l’objet d’études scientifiques. La caractéristique commune à tous les ego-documents est la mise à disposition de l’information par rapport à l’auto-perception d’un scripteur donné en ce qui concerne sa famille, son pays et son origine régionale, son statut social et les rapports que l’individu développe face aux systèmes politiques et les changements respectifs.

  • Titre traduit

    Scriptural practices of less experienced writers in ego-documents from the French-German border region during World War I


  • Résumé

    The concept ‘ego-document’ with its origins in historical research was adopted and developed in historical research in France in studies about the écrits du for privé from the 16th to the 18th century or about the Livres de raison characterized as written testimonies about private life and about the human’s social existence. In linguistics, ego-documents as freely and independently written texts are an encouraging approach in sociolinguistics, because they emphasise the writers’ subjective experiences from their personal perspective. Ego-documents bring humans in conditions of everyday life into focus and therefore are suitable to analyse scriptural and discursive habits and competencies not of the literate intellectuals but those of ordinary people who have been excluded from academic research for a long time. The common characteristic of all ego-documents is that they provide information about a writer’s self-perception regarding his family, his country and his regional origins, his social status and the relations he develops to political systems and their changes. The First World War led to an expansion in written production due to increasing writing opportunities not only in the public and / or politic domain but also in the private sphere. Mobilisation obligates the soldiers to write in order to maintain the contact with their families who in turn respond to the letters from the front through writing. This evolution occurs in the totality of French society but it is particularly interesting concerning writers for which linguistic research disposes only of sparse written testimonies. These are writers who only have limited writing skills as they received an elementary school education but their pre-war everyday life did not require any regular writing practice. The PhD project deals with ego-documents, particularly diaries, letters and postcards, from soldiers as well as from those who were left behind. Letters have been subject of earlier scientific investigation but neither to this extent nor in this specific dimension. Traditionally, educated writers’ texts were subject to linguistic historiography which was therefore based on the linguistic usage of cultivated and educated writers belonging to the social elite who only represent a minority of the population at that time. The approach chosen for this work adopts a wider perspective by analysing the linguistic usage in manuscripts of middle and lower social classes while integrating authentic material, unpublished until now. The analysis of the ego-documents’ linguistic and discursive characteristics makes a valuable contribution to the actual status of investigation about (daily) French usage at the beginning of the 20th century. Considering the particularity of parts of the corpus, an important aspect of the analysis is the linguistic usage in the border region between France and Germany, involving the linguistic transfer and the linguistic interferences resulting from linguistic contact. The integration of a pragmatic perspective by means of an analysis of the information structure and the topicalisation processes as well as the discursive traditions implemented in different types of ego-documents proposes a complementary and enriching approach to less experienced writers’ texts. The analysis of the construction of the ethos in a given document not only contributes to clarify the self-representation but also to specify the ego-documents’ typology by outlining a constitutive part of the concept. From a methodological point of view, the PhD project opens up new possibilities for the treatment of authentic manuscripts in their specific dimension with respect to reproduction, format, annotation etc. in order to obtain an optimal presentation and access. The corpus in question will also be used as a basis for further linguistic and scientific works in general.



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