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Imagining the popular in contemporary French culture$
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Diana Holmes and David Looseley

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780719078163

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719078163.001.0001

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Social and linguistic change in French: does popular culture mean popular language?

Social and linguistic change in French: does popular culture mean popular language?

(p.194) 6 Social and linguistic change in French: does popular culture mean popular language?
Imagining the popular in contemporary French culture

Nigel Armstrong

Manchester University Press

This chapter examines the relevance of popular language for wider perceptions of what constitutes ‘popular culture’. It looks at a historical French centralism which, through policies that included education and military conscription, minimised regional variations in accent and vocabulary, and certainly separated these from linguistic markers of social class. The chapter also describes French Republicanism's powerful ideal of an inclusive, uplifting high-culture-for-all that resists any social levelling ‘down’ of language as of any other form of culture. It argues that linguistic standards come to be seen as a rule-system from which people deviate to the extent that they are not highly educated. Language production is central to the individual's presentation of her or his identity, and as such is intertwined, perhaps even more than choices of cultural consumption, with the complex, multiple weave of contemporary French identity.

Keywords:   popular culture, French culture, French linguistic standards, social levelling, French identity

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