, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp 309-322
Date: 05 Jun 2008

Rethinking diversity and difference in French language practices

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Abstract

This paper contributes to a debate on linguistic identity and social participation in France by providing a critical reading of language policy and practice. It challenges the notion that France is a linguistically homogenous nation where a standardised French language is universally practiced and, rather, seeks to reframe linguistic diversity and heterogeneity as fundamental and legitimate constitutive features of French society. In exploring diversity from this critical perspective, the paper looks to the ways in which a number of artists and language activists are deliberately and consciously transgressing normative notions of French to affirm the legitimacy of their alterity and difference. The paper does not make an argument against the legitimacy or social value of standard French, but rather argues in favour of a more critical and inclusive approach to cultural and linguistic difference in France.