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In 2005, François took part in a scientific expedition to Vanikoro (Solomon islands), whose objective was to understand the wreckage of the French navigator La Pérouse in 1788. As a member of a multidisciplinary team, he recorded the oral tradition of the Melanesian and Polynesian populations of this island, concerning popular representations of this historical event. On that occasion, he also documented the three languages spoken on Vanikoro - Teanu, Lovono and Tanema - two of which are highly endangered.
In 2015, he coauthored with Jean-Michel Charpentier the Linguistic Atlas of French Polynesia, an atlas showcasing the internal linguistic diversity of French Polynesia.
Documentation of languages and cultures in Melanesia
François recorded texts from the oral literature - myths, legends, folktales - in various language communities of Vanuatu and the Solomons.
He provided local communities with various books in their languages, in the perspective of promoting the use of vernacular languages in writing.
Together with ethnomusicologist Monika Stern and anthropologist Éric Wittersheim, he ran a multidisciplinary project on traditional music and poetry in Vanuatu. This led to the publication of Music of Vanuatu: Celebrations and Mysteries, a CD album of songs and dances recorded during social events in the field.
Contribution to linguistic typology and theory
François coined the term "colexification". This term captures the fact that certain concepts, which some languages distinguish in their lexicons, are encoded in the same way ("colexified") in other languages. Colexification is increasingly used in research about lexical typology.