We all know more or less recognize the singing accent of the south or the more guttural one of the north. Some smile, others love it, so far all is well. But some mock or even discriminate against people with an accent. This phenomenon has a name: glottophobia. With 30 million French people having an accent, it is time to stop this. In November 2020, Christophe Euzet, deputy for Hérault, tabled a bill in this regard penalizing discrimination on the grounds of glottophobia. A text adopted from its first reading by the National Assembly. How did “no accent” become the norm? We take stock.
“In France, regional accents are associated with rurality and a lack of education”
If this type of discrimination may seem completely absurd, it does exist. Lisa (first name has been changed), 27, tells The Body Optimist :
“I come from the Toulouse region. And when I moved to Paris to study journalism (I was 19), my teachers (especially in radio) were very clear. They said to me “if you want to find your place in the middle, you have to work on erasing your accent. Viewers or listeners don’t like accents. They want something neutral, Parisian. Look at the TV presenters. or radio, they usually have no accent. At the time, I took this advice. Then I realized his stupidity while growing up. This is how we start to train young people. “
The editorial staff is firm on this matter: what can it do if you come from the south, the north, the east, the west or the West Indies with the accent that goes with it ?! Absolutely nothing. But as Maria Candea, lecturer at the Sorbonne-Nouvelle, points out to Parisien.fr:
“In France, regional accents are associated with rurality and a lack of education. “
For his part, Gaëtan confides in La Voix du Nord: ” My French-speaking colleagues have always been very mocking, especially my colleagues from the south of France. I had the right to “my favorite inbred”, “country”, “you Belgian”, “learn to speak” and so on. ” Marie Candea reflects on this testimony: ” We accept southern accents a little better because there is a positive representation from South. But it is very ambivalent. According to some, someone who speaks with the sun in their voice will not be able to give you serious advice on finance or terrorism prevention. “
The accent of the north, the beloved mall
As the sociolinguist Philippe Blanchet and author of “Discriminations: combating glottophobia”, at HuffPost:
“The accents most discriminated against in France are those of the northern half. In rural and suburban areas (the suburbs). That is, if you have a popular accent from a big city in the northern half of France or a non-southern rural accent, it’s heavily stigmatized. “
And for more than doubtful reasons :
“Not only do people find it unacceptable. But, in addition, they will say things like: “those who speak like that are not educated, not intelligent, not beautiful, dirty”. It is also linked to other non-linguistic aspects that are the representations and stereotypes that we have of these human groups. “
This stigma, we often hear it when we frequent the Parisian cultural environment. The writer Diane Ducret, interviewed by L’Express, says: “When I presented programs on the Histoire channel, its director, Patrick Buisson, sent me straight to the speech therapist ! Even today, I would dream of being able to let myself go. But I find myself trying to close the “an” and the “on”. The social norm is such that I continue, in spite of myself, to control myself “.
The same goes for the young Élise when she arrived in Paris to study and was staying with a host family:
“They were really from the Parisian bourgeoisie. Me, next door, I was the provincial redneck. While I was studying in the same place as their daughter. They made me repeat words, as if it was entertaining for them. “
Glottophobia and discrimination in hiring
Beyond repeated mockery, glottophobia can create a real feeling of exclusion. And in more serious cases, discrimination in hiring. Stéphanie recounts her interview with a recruiter at La Voix du Nord:
“It’s going to be complicated for the switchboard. Because when we made contact by phone, I found that you had too much emphasis. “
According to a survey carried out by the FIFG in January 2020, 30 million French people speak with a regional accent. They are 16% believe they have already been victims of glottophobia. It is for all these reasons, but also for promote accents (and our heritage) that the National Assembly has studied this bill sanctioning glottophobia.
Breakthrough. Even though, let’s point out, discriminating against or making fun of someone because of their accent is so childish that it seems unbelievable that a law should prevent it. To be continued …