Community Web Version Now Available
Simon Lejeune
Community Tutor
Who can claim speaking the REAL language?

Hello guys, 

As I was scrolling through the list of French Italki teacher to check how rated I was compared to other teachers, I noticed something appealing: a significant part of teachers/tutors claim speaking and teaching the REAL French, from France. I'm a French native speaker from Belgium, therefore I wonder: Is my mother tongue FAKE? If some people claim speaking a language that is real, does it mean that other variants of that language are copies? 

I don't want to target anyone nor a community, I have seen that not only with French. Even my German teacher at the university surprised me once, pointing on the map in the classroom where the purest German was spoken. It was such a nonsense for me that I don't even remember where it was exactly. I'm sorry Swiss, Austrians, Bavarians, Belgians (German is spoken in Belgium) but you don't speak German. Even though you think that's your mother tongue and even though you've been speaking it for your whole life, I have a message for you: your language is fake.

Can you feel the violence here? A specific accent, a specific vocabulary, a specific way to express yourself, we all have it and that is what makes us. A language is not only a way to communicate, it is part of us.. Because some many things keep living in the way we speak, our history, our character, our emotions. When you have integrated that, you can feel all the nonsense and the violence in phrases like : "I speak the REAL language with the REAL accent". Because it means that some accents and languages are fake. And as these things are an important part of who we are, it also means that some people are also fake. I've been witnessing it for a long time and now it starts getting on my nerves, so I afford to tell it: I am real. I am pure. And so is my language. Because I'm carrying a history, a heritage, lives, thoughts and emotions. As anyone else on this planet. French is not only spoken in Paris. Reality is everywhere. 

This is what I wanted to discuss with you today :) 

Aug 22, 2016 2:05 PM
Comments · 21
Great topic, Simon, I am with you. Since I agree with most of the comments, particularly Caroline’s and Michaels, I’ll be brief.

It’s a marketing ploy. The teacher defines “real” as however they happen speak. There was a famous article here last year where the teacher tried to define “real English” as low class London pub talk. Suddenly, everyone wondered why they were wasting their time with the Queen’s English. I suppose some students may fall for that nonsense, but the type of students that I like the most are immune.

As far as the relevance of where a language originated — the pronunciation is almost always far more conservative in the outlying areas, as opposed to the place of origin, where it is more innovative (or corrupted, depending on your point of view) This is not my opinion — it’s a matter of linguistics that anyone can verify.

Parisian accent is much closer to Belgian than to Southern France, but who cares? BTW, Canadian French is actually the most conservative....  :)
August 22, 2016

That's interesting because I think that if a native English speaker from either the UK or the USA said something about possessing the "real" English on Italki, then they could expect an avalanche of criticism from across the world! 

Because France is the big French-speaking country, maybe we need to know how similar and different the Belgian accent /dialect is.  Perhaps you could write an article about the different accents and dialects of modern French.  Would such an article show the Belgian variety on a par with the various varieties found in France?

August 22, 2016

That's a very interesting topic Simon and I've actually seen this phenomenon in some profiles. However I've always considered it as a marketing trick more than anything else, because Paris carries a certain image and fantasies. I'm from the south of France so I definitely have an accent but from what I've noticed, students rarely hear the differences anyway. 

Sorry for the useless contribution to the topic hahaha I just wanted to join :p

August 22, 2016

Benjamin, merci de ta réponse, mais je suis de nouveau mal à l'aise avec ta question. L'accent est la façon dont les mots sont prononcés et dont les sons sont mis en relation, tout homme capable d'émettre des sons a donc un accent. On parle tous d'une manière propre, à Paris ou à Bamako. 

Sid1995, I see your point of view but Im' not sure if the word 'invent' is appropriate. Languages were not invented as elecricity or mills were invented. Event though the organization that 'rules' the language ( L' Académie Française for French, l'Accademia della Crusca for Italian ) are in the '"original" country, the term " real French, real German" is absolutely wrong in my view.

August 22, 2016

BTW, I love how Belgians say "75" instead of "three score and fifteen." Why Parisians insist on complicated arithmetic is beyond me ;)

August 22, 2016
Show More
Simon Lejeune
Language Skills
English, Flemish, French, German, Italian, Latin, Polish, Slovak, Spanish
Learning Language
English, Flemish, German, Polish, Slovak, Spanish