A Study of French Suburban Discourse from Sociolinguistic and Literary Perspectives.
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This work seeks to investigate French suburban discourse from both sociolinguistic and literary perspectives. As part of a wider negative discourse pertaining to the banlieue, these areas have come under criticism from some parts of the media, as well as a number of scholars, for being sites of perceived linguistic impoverishment where the French language is being corrupted. This work aims to challenge these perceptions of the linguistic capital of les cités. This will be achieved through the in-depth study of two salient elements of French suburban discourse: verlan and Beur literature. Firstly, it will be shown that verlan is a positive lexical product of the banlieue as it is acts as a unifying linguistic code for the Beur community. It has positive implications for this demographic as it aids in the affirmation of a unique Beur identity. Secondly, a selected corpus of Beur literature will be studied, in order to reveal the literary capital of the banlieue. It will be advanced that this literature is a positive literary product of the French suburbs as it lends a voice to the Beur and wider banlieue community, thereby empowering them. It will be argued thus that the suburbs are domains in which the French language is used as part of a cathartic and creative process by the banlieue community. This work will advance that both verlan and Beur literature are instrumental in transforming the negative aspects of banlieue life into positives using the medium of the French language. Thus, the banlieue can be argued to be a site of much linguistic and creative capital.