"Il parle normal, il parle comme nous”: self-reported usage and attitudes in a banlieue

Secova, Maria; Gardner-Chloros, Penelope and Atangana, Frédérique (2018). "Il parle normal, il parle comme nous”: self-reported usage and attitudes in a banlieue. Journal of French Language Studies, 28(2) pp. 235–263.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0959269518000078


We report on a survey of language attitudes carried out as part of a project comparing youth language in Paris and London.
As in similar studies carried out in London (Cheshire et al. 2008), Berlin (Wiese 2009) and elsewhere (Boyd et al. 2015), the focus was on features considered typical of ‘contemporary urban vernaculars’ (Rampton 2015).
The respondents were pupils aged 15-18 in two secondary schools in a working-class northern suburb of Paris. The survey included (1) a written questionnaire containing examples of features potentially undergoing change in contemporary French; (2) an analysis of reactions to extracts from the project data: participants were asked to comment on the speakers and the features identified.
Quantitative analysis had shown that some of these features are more widespread than others and are used by certain categories of speaker more than others (Gardner-Chloros and Secova, 2018). This study provides a qualitative dimension, showing that different features have different degrees of perceptual salience and acceptability. It demonstrates that youth varieties do not involve characteristic features being used as a ‘package’, and that such changes interact in a complex manner with attitudinal factors. The study also provides material for reflection on the role of attitude studies within sociolinguistic surveys.

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