French Taster Day

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On the 20th of January, the MFL department organised a French Linguistics trip to the University of Westminster. This was a great opportunity for the bilingual French students to take part in a fascinating programme of four mini lectures. It was a very insightful day as we were able to learn about: 

  • The sounds and structures of French
  • What’s so standard about ‘Standard’ French?
  • Heritage Languages
  • French around the world 

This allowed us to gain understanding about the French language.  For instance, we learnt that French is spoken differently around the world. We also learnt that there are different types of bilingual speakers.  For example, there are receptive heritage speakers who understand French, but reply in English.  This is very common amongst bilingual students in the UK as their heritage language is learnt at home during childhood but never developed, due to insufficient input from the social environment.

All the French students had a great time in which we took in information about bilingualism that we did not know before.  One year 9 student said “ it was very fascinating and I did not know that speaking more than one language meant that your mental capacity was higher than the average person.”  Another student said “it was interesting how people have different accents in France and how they can be treated differently especially in politics”. 

Having this is experience was truly beneficial and we are very grateful.

Assale Gonzalez 11A

French regional accents

Accents  vary all over the world depending on where you are from and what region. In this case, French accents can vary depending on where you are from.  We know that learning a different language or knowing a different language from birth can be very good as it opens new doors and can allow you to talk to different people of different backgrounds, but the way you speak it can sometimes be a barrier, as some people may not understand your accent.

All over the world, all French speakers have a slight accent varying from the speed to the way they say different words.  Some native French speakers learn French from the way it is spoken in the surroundings, for example the correct French way of saying have you eaten is “Est-que tu as mangé?” whereas the way I heard it being said in my Congolese family was "Chia mangé?"

Standard French can be heard in the news and is used in more formal events and situations such as business meetings.  Standard French can show authority and how educated you are. 

The standard of French was first spoken by the ones in power as they had chosen how they liked it and what was normal as in the time of when French was introduced, there was no French spoken so it was easy to normalise it as the inhabitants of France did not know what it was when it was prescribed to the public.

Accents in France can vary from region to region. The well known southern accent in the south of France is the “chantant” accent.  Those from the southern France have a tendency to elongate their words and sometimes add an “ehh” to the end of their words, therefore is known as the “chantant” French. 

Although French accents are celebrated and are found attractive to some ears, accents in some parts of the corporate world  are ridiculed and frowned upon.  Surveys have shown that people with different accents are discriminated in the workplace and sometimes cannot get a job.  Their fellow northern employees are made examples and they are told that if they speak French like them they could get a job promotion or further in life.

For more information about different accents, you can go to the France 24 YouTube channel and watch the following video: "French regional accents: source of pride or discrimination?"

Eleonore Nstiomo-Milandou 9M