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World Why France may ban discrimination against accents

03:51  26 november  2020
03:51  26 november  2020 Source:   bbc.com

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France cannot boast quite the same diversity of accents as the UK. Centralisers from the Revolution on did their best to suppress regional languages first - like In many rural areas of France , accents are preserved among older people but are heard less frequently among the young. There is also an

The French accent may be considered one of the sexiest in the world, but like other countries, there Though accents can be the source of regional pride, they can also be somewhat of a ball and chain. Some lawmakers have gone so far as to call for legislation to fight against linguistic discrimination .

Imagine a well-known Westminster MP - a party leader - caught in a press scrum and being asked a question which is delivered in a thick Scottish accent.

Laetitia Avia et al. looking at the camera: Politician Laetitia Avia came up with the idea of a new law, while Prime Minister Jean Castex has been mocked for his south-western accent © Getty Images Politician Laetitia Avia came up with the idea of a new law, while Prime Minister Jean Castex has been mocked for his south-western accent

He looks at the journalist in mocking incomprehension, and says: "Sorry I didn't understand a word of that. Can someone ask me a question in proper English?" Unthinkable, right?

And yet in France more or less exactly that exchange was caught on camera between left-wing firebrand Jean-Luc Mélenchon and a hapless woman reporter from French regional TV. Her offence: having a strong southern twang.

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However, an accent is never mentioned. So, what can be done to minimize accent discrimination in the workplace? A person with an accent cannot, according to the Equality and Human Rights Commission, be discriminated against if they are able to communicate and be understood

France doesn't care about freedom of speech. Its attacks on Muslims are to distract its internal social issues. If they cared about freedom of speech, they wouldn't ban Muslim women from wearing burkini's on the beach, an item of clothing that essentially looks like a diving suit, which is allowed.

Jean-Luc Melenchon et al. wearing military uniforms: Jean-Luc Mélenchon apologised for his reaction to the Toulouse-based reporter, arguing that he thought she had been mocking him © Getty Images Jean-Luc Mélenchon apologised for his reaction to the Toulouse-based reporter, arguing that he thought she had been mocking him

Regional accents in France have long been the victim of a patronising Parisian disdain.

Those funny nasals from Marseille are great when accompanied by pastis and a game of boules. Some good comedy parts on TV, too.

But woe betide anyone with a hint of the south in their voice who seeks promotion in broadcasting or national politics or the higher end of academia and the civil service - or even in telesales.

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Get ahead, speak Parisian

If you want to communicate in France - and not just raise a laugh - then you conform to the norm, and that means speaking standard Paris bourgeois. There are plenty of online elocution classes to teach you how.

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Linguistic discrimination (also called glottophobia, linguicism and languagism) is unfair treatment which is based on use of language and characteristics of speech, including first language, accent

Accent perception. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Jump to navigation Jump to search. Accents are the distinctive variations in the pronunciation of a language. There are many examples of the discrimination of out-groups based on language, e.g., the banning of the public speaking of

But times are changing, and for the first time a pushback is underway on behalf of the estimated 30 million French citizens who speak with an accent. That's almost half France's population of 67 million.

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Under a private member's bill going before the National Assembly on Thursday, it will become an offence under the labour and penal codes to discriminate against an individual on the basis of accent.

The French word for it is "la glottophobie".

Why an accent can harm your career

"Having a regional accent in France means automatically that you're treated like a hick - amiable but fundamentally unserious," says the bill's sponsor Christophe Euzet, who is from Perpignan in French Catalonia.

"It is unimaginable in France that you could have someone with a southern accent - or a northern one for that matter - broadcasting commentary on Remembrance Day. Or discoursing on Middle Eastern politics.

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"But it is also a political issue today. The yellow vest movement was a classic example of what happens when millions of people from the regions look at their representatives in Paris and feel they have nothing in common."

But hang on. Isn't France's Prime Minister, Jean Castex, famous for being the first in the office to speak with an accent? And isn't that all about reconnecting with the people?

"Yes," says Euzet. "But how long did it take Castex before he was taken seriously as a politician?"

How French accents differ

France cannot boast quite the same diversity of accents as the UK. Centralisers from the Revolution on did their best to suppress regional languages first - like Occitan and Breton - then the accents that emerged from them. Schools were the first instrument of conformity, then mass media.

The biggest family of accents is the southern one, marked, among other things, by pronunciation of the normally silent 'e' at the end of words, and the famous "pang" and "vang" for pain and vin (bread and wine).

Other regional accents can be found in Corsica, eastern France, Alsace (influenced by German), Brittany and the north - influenced by the local dialect Ch'ti.

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a group of people standing in front of a building: One of France's best-loved films Bienvenu Fiers d'etre Ch'tis (Welcome to the Sticks) played on misunderstanding the northern accent © Getty Images One of France's best-loved films Bienvenu Fiers d'etre Ch'tis (Welcome to the Sticks) played on misunderstanding the northern accent

In many rural areas of France, accents are preserved among older people but are heard less frequently among the young.

There is also an identifiable banlieue accent, popular among people of immigrant origin and characterised by hard consonants and rapid-fire delivery.

One myth is that the best French is spoken by the people of the Tours region in the Loire valley.

Under the ancien régime, members of the court kept châteaux along the Loire, and brought with them the educated Paris vernacular.

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This is interesting!