Svetlana Kaminskaïa

Associate Professor

For questions and advising related to French Studies undergraduate programs, contact Svetlana at: 

519-888-4567 x42465
Office: ML 337

  • B.A. (Hons) French Studies, Minsk State Linguistic University (Belarus), 1997
  • M.A. French Studies, Minsk State Linguistic University (Belarus), 1998
  • M.A. French Studies, The University of Western Ontario (Western University), 1999
  • PhD French Studies, The University of Western Ontario (Western University), 2006


I completed my undergraduate and M.A. studies at Minsk State Linguistic University, studying languages and their structure. I came to Canada as a graduate exchange student and then decided to further pursue my passion for study of French and its dialects. My PhD research dealt with intonational differences between Canadian French (Quebec City region) and European French (Troyes region) in spontaneous speech. I particularly studied the realization of a rising contour and found dialectal markers that create surface prosodic variation in the two dialects. I now focus my research on other varieties of French and on other aspects of language.


J’ai fait mes études du premier cycle et une maîtrise en études françaises à l’Université linguistique d’état de Minsk. Je suis venue au Canada comme étudiante du 2ème cycle et poursuivi ma passion pour le français et pour la linguistique et obtenu mon doctorat en 2006. Ma thèse de doctorat porte sur les similarités et les différences entre le français québécois et le français européen en parole spontanée. Plus spécifiquement, elle se penche sur la réalisation phonétique d’un contour intonatif montant et identifie les marqueurs dialectaux qui contribuent à la variation régionale. Ma recherche actuelle s’étend sur d’autres variétés de français et sur d’autres aspects de la variation linguistique.

Research and teaching interests

  • Rhythm and intonation
  • Dialectal variation in French
  • French in contact
  • General and French phonology
  • General and French phonetics
  • Sociolinguistics

Current projects

Since coming to Waterloo, I developed a research program that focuses on French spoken in Ontario in a minority setting (Windsor region); it expands to rhythmic variation, social and stylistic variation, and various aspects of intonational variation. These analyses also include a comparison with dialects of French spoken in majority settings in Ontario, Quebec and France. One of the main goals of this project is to provide a thorough comparative description of the prosody of Ontario and Quebec French dialects. The outcomes of such comparative analysis will add to our knowledge about prosodic variation in French by establishing common properties and by identifying regional variants. Different stages and aspects of this research agenda have received funding from both UW and SSHRC. Currently, I am principal investigator of the SSHRC Insight Grant. This investigation will contribute to analyses of other minority French dialects in North America that originated from Quebec French by providing information about the reference parent variety and by identifying features in a contact situation that may be attributable to interference from the socially dominant language.

I am also examining language learners’ progress in a French pronunciation course while identifying aspects of the Anglophone learners’ first language that are transferred in their second language oral production and keep persisting at the end of the course. The objectives are both pedagogical and theoretical. First, I aim to identify aspects that need more attention and practice in class or in the language lab. Second, the results of this research will help better understand the interaction between English and French sound systems. The results of this research will contribute to enhancing teaching, will lead to better students’ experience and deeper learning, and will add to linguistic and to second language learning theories.

Selected publications

(Non-)variabilité rythmique en français canadien. Revue du Nouvel-Ontario 43 : 293-325. 2018.

Exploring sociolinguistic discontinuity in a minority French. In Berns, J., H. Jacobs and D. Nouveau (eds.) Romance Languages and Linguistic Theory 13. Selected papers from ‘Going Romance’ 29 (December 10-12, 2015), Nijmegen, [RLLT 13], pp. 159-175. 2018.

Peaks and valleys of a stress group in three geographically distant varieties of French in contact and non-contact settings. Proceedings of Speech prosody 2018. 2018.

 (Non-)variabilité du rythme en français canadien. 6ème Congrès mondial de linguistique française. 2018. DOI :

Prosodic rhythm in Ontario French. Journal of French Language studies 26(2): 183-208. 2016. (in collaboration with Tennant, J. and A. Russell)

Interplay of sociolinguistic factors in rhythmic variation in a minority French dialect. Proceedings of Speech Prosody 2016. 2016.

L’apport du débit à l’étude du rythme phonétique à l’aide des mesures rythmiques : une étude de deux variétés du français laurentien. Faits de langues 45 : 161-185. 2015.

Variation intonative en français minoritaire en Ontario: portrait général et alignement du pic mélodique. Neuphilologische Mitteilungen 116 (2): 261-284. 2015.

Tonal patterns, associations and alignment of peaks in regional French. WORD 60 (1): 101-140. 2015.

Quantification of speech rhythm in Canadian French in a minority setting. The Italian Journal of Linguistics/Rivista di Linguistica 26(1): 93-134. 2014.

Compétences discursives de locuteurs du français L1 et L2 en contexte minoritaire.  La Revue du Nouvel-Ontario 39 : 165-193. 2014. (in collaboration with P. Caxaj-Ruiz)

Intonation of Ontario French in a minority setting: a study comparing two age groups. The French Review 87(2): 107-127. 2013.

Approaches to Analyzing Prosodic Rhythm in Language Contact: French in Ontario. In Barysevich, A., D’Arcy, A. and D. Heap. Proceedings of Methods 14Papers from the Fourteens International Conference on Methods in Dialectology, 2011. Peter Lang, Bamberg Series. 3-13. 2013. (in collaboration with Tennant, J. and A. Russell)

Prosodie du français laurentien en milieu minoritaire: le corpus Windsor. In A. C. Simon (ed.) La variation prosodique régionale en français. Chapitre 8. Bruxelles: De Boeck, coll. “Champs linguistiques”, pp. 159-178. 2012. (in collaboration with F. Poiré)

Awards and achievements

SSHRC Insight Grant (Principal Investigator; collaborators: François Poiré (Western University), Laura Colantoni (Univiersity of Toronto), Dominique Louër (UW)) (2019-2021)

LITE Seed Grant (Principal Investigator; collaborator: Dominique Louër) (2018)

Outstanding Performance Award (2017)

UW/SSHRC Research Grant (2007, 2009, 2011, 2018)

UW/SSHRC Travel Grant (2014, 2017)

University of Waterloo’s 4A Scholar program (2015)

Lois Claxton Humanities and Social Sciences Award (2014 – 2016)

SSHRC SRG (Principal Investigator; co-applicant Jeff Tennant, UWO) (2010 – 2011)

Selected professional and community affiliations

  • Canadian Linguistic Association
  • ISCA (International Speech Communication Association)
  • Laboratory Phonology
  • LACUS (Linguistic Association of Canada and the United States)
  • Société de linguistique romane
University of Waterloo