Le Havre accent, an example of a linguistic myth
Langage et société n° 82, December 1997, pp. 5-25
Belief in the existence of a distinctive local urban accent is widespread in Le Havre. The present study attempts, on the one hand, to establish the phonetic facts and, on the other, to gauge reactions and attitudes of people from Le Havre and elsewhere towards local speech patterns. It emerges that the “Le Havre accent” is barely distinguishable from the popular
Parisian variety and that people from Le Havre, almost as much as outsiders, have difficulty in identifying local speakers on recordings. Indeed, insofar as there are any distinctive markers of Le Havre speech, they are lexical rather than phonetic. It is suggested that the nonetheless prevalent myth of a Le Havre accent originates in the particular historical and social circumstances that characterize the town.
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