Bienvenue Chez les Ch'tis: Lille, Language and Les Ch'tis

If you didn't know it already, it's one of the things you gotta know about the French: they love their language. They talk about it often, joke about it often, compare and guess accents often, and indeed one of the most common compliments that a French person is probably going to give is about their language, that you speak it well (at least, considering the period you've been learning it, but they're too polite to say that bit!) Tu parles vachement bien en français!

The other day I actually got corrected by an older man, on how I was pronouncing the word 'royal' --he stressed it's 'woi-yall' not 'royal' as in English. After listening to his little talk on the pronounciation of this word (incidentally, we were talking about the recent royal wedding across the Channel...) I then spent (what felt like 5 minutes) the next few minutes trying to unlearn my Aussie accent. Not the easiest. Another example is the word 'society', pronounced: 'so-si-e-tea" (the 'tea' bit is said like Tina Fey, if that helps haha).

Of course, there are always exceptions. Actually, despite French purists who dislike any slang into common usage (or l'argot, epitomised by verlant, a form of slang where words are often inversed, so instead of saying 'femme' for woman, they say 'meuf'), there are many anglicisms which many of my friends use without a moment's hesitation. Expressions like: pour le fun, faire un planning, FAIL, faire du shopping, just to name a few.

Bienvenue Chez les Ch'tis trailer

I'm currently staying in a region in France called Nord-Pas-de-Calais. A pretty logical name, since it's north (nord) of France, including the town of Calais. The French do something right--gotta give 'em credit sometimes, ya know? In this region, it has a bunch of people with a very particular accent, known as Ch'tis. Why Ch'tis? It's the region in Nord-Pas-de-Calais where they come from--any more questions? :P Mind you, not everyone here uses that accent. Let's just say that if someone with a Ch'tis accent walks into a room, you know they've arrived! If you ever are to watch any French films, why not watch Bienvenue Chez Les Ch'tis ? It's where I live, and there's even a few scenes of some streets I've been in. It'll give you a glimpse into French sense of humour.

Read on...

My early wonderings aloud whether I'd get cultural shock...
My impressions of Lille 3, my university.
For my experiences of the Homeless in France, click here.


Warwick said...

ahaha, I've seen this film, Mark. The English title is 'Welcome to The Sticks'

soooo good. u should watch it with the English subtitles to see the way they've translated it. My friend who speaks French thought it was pretty clever

Emilie said...

I juste want to correct a mistake: In french, we don't say "faire du planning" but "faire un planning". However, all the rest of your article is true! ;)

Mrbonchapeau said...

Merci de m'avoir corrigé, Emilie :P

Anonymous said...

Good evening,

I don't really remember how I got there but anyway it's a good article. I looked for the origins of the word Ch'ti itself and in fact it dates back to WWI, during which infantry men who called "poilus" (because of the war in trenches). They used to say "Ché ti" instead of "C'est toi". I think that's the whole story. As a kind of Chti, 100% made in Northern France, I didn't know it myself and I think we'll get to be more learned ^^ looool . Concerning the movie I saw it twice, it was a Great success for french cinema. But when you reflect upon it, this is a movie FULL of sweeping statements and I don't think it's a true image of the Northern French culture nowadays but it looks quite traditonal and a little bit old-fashioned.

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