Research Idea: French colonies & Parisian accents

A friend sent me this nugget of information about the present-day French colony Saint Pierre et Miquelon (From a fascinating article about French départements d’outremer):

Saint Pierre et Miquelon, which is entirely filled with French descendants, holds on to an awful lot of French things. It’s a tiny little rock in the North Atlantic, just south of Newfoundland, but the Art Centre will only show French films, they will only have French singers, even though they are right next to Canada. They only have French food in the supermarket and their bakery will only use French flour. They have one industry there, which is teaching the French language to Canadians, to refine their accents, to get rid of the ugly Québécois accent and give them a beautiful Parisian one.

I have so many questions! What does one do to “get rid of the ugly Québécois accent”? Who’s paying for this service? How did the industry arise? How much does it cost? How do people learn about this? Why not go to Paris to get a Parisian accent? What do the clients do with their accents – do they intend to just use their new Parisian accents or switch back and forth? How are they received in Quebec, and in Paris? How have the residents of Saint Pierre et Miquelon maintained these “beautiful Parisian” accents while located so far away?

Someone should get on this. You can thank Speech Events for the idea later.

One thought on “Research Idea: French colonies & Parisian accents

  1. Interesting but not too surprising. “Parisian French” is just standard French French and given that the territory is an official French overseas holding/territory it doesn’t seem weird that the government would promote the same standard form that they promote across their entire country and throughout their former colonies through the French Alliance/French Cultural Center system. While they may seem evil, I’m sure that there is plenty of drift from the standard in the classroom; regional French accents haven’t all become Parisian and Africans emerging from lycée français in Africa don’t sound like Parisians either (though I’m sure they deftly deploy the Parisian ‘r’ when need be!). It’d be interesting to see how things play out in the DOM/TOM, I know that in Burkina/Côte d’Ivoire there’s even a term for French that has the Parisian turned up: “sogobi”.

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