Banning “Glottophobia”: French Legislators Move To Ban The Mocking Of Accents

libertyWe have previously discussed the alarming rollback on free speech rights in the West, particularly in France (here and here and here and here and here and here) and England ( here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here). Much of this trend is tied to the expansion of hate speech and non-discrimination laws. We have seen comedians targeted with such court orders under this expanding and worrisome trend. (here and here).  Now the French parliament is considering the making of jokes or mockery over accents a form of prohibited discrimination. It is a ban on “Glottophobia”, the French term for discrimination based on pronunciation and tone.

Jean-Luc Melenchon, leader of the opposition France Insoumise (France Unbowed) political party, has proposed outlawing mockery of accents after a controversial statement by former presidential candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon when asked by a reporter about  an anti-corruption investigation of his political party.  Melenchon mimicked the journalist’s accent and told her she was “talking nonsense” before turning away and saying: “Has anyone got a question in more or less comprehensible French?”  The reporter was from the southwestern areas of France.

The term “glottophobia” was coined by sociolinguist Philippe Blanchet as “linguistic discrimination of all kinds” which he defines as “contempt, hate, aggression, rejection. exclusion, of people, negative discrimination actually or allegedly based on the fact of considering incorrect, inferior, bad certain linguistic forms (perceived as languages, dialects or uses of language) used by these people, generally by focusing language forms (and without always being fully aware of the magnitude of the effects on people).” The term appears to be based on the Greek glossa for tongue.

The proposal reflects the fear of many of us in the free speech community about the slippery slope of speech criminalization.  Once politicians are allowed to ban or regulate speech, new limitations become impulsive and the desire for greater regulation insatiable.

Melenchon tweeted “Do people have to endure humiliation if their pronunciation is not of the standardized kind?” The answer appears to ban jokes or mockery.  Presumably, the next step will be jokes or mocks over cultural or regional habits or dishes or appearances.  The point is not that such mockery is appropriate but that the criminalization or regulation of speech comes at a much higher cost for society.


76 thoughts on “Banning “Glottophobia”: French Legislators Move To Ban The Mocking Of Accents”

  1. En garde, Monsieur Melanchon! I dare you to attack David Suchet’s Poirot……..or this other Belgian, a music icon, who was the best of the very best:

  2. This whole story is absurd enough by itself, without Mélenchon being both the one castigating the regional accents and the author of a proposal for outlawing mocking them.
    The glottophobia law was proposed indeed by Laetitia Avia, a member of parliament known mostly to this day for admitting having bitten a taxi driver a few months ago.

        1. Squeeky ..I saw Texas Across the River as a young adult…It was hilarious…but wouldn’t be shown today!

          1. Great movie…the argument near the end of the movie about how hard Dean Martin was slapped was a riot.

  3. Turley consistently posts these nonsensical attempts by fringe elements of foreign governments to suppress or ban this or that. The accents and patois of the various regions in France have always been a source of humor. This can be seen throughout French cinema and TV. Michel Simon famously portrays a local from Marseille who speaks in the manner of which those from Marseille are famous. Demain matin-tomorrow morning-endings almost devoid of consonants-becomes demang matang-heavy on the ng. There is no way France would allow a law or ordinance that would punish people for making fun of the various patois and/or accents in France. Quebec’s Joual is almost incomprehensible by those who speak Parisian French in Quebec. Imagine the fight that would ensue.

    Turley, there are enough nonsensical laws and ordinances; it’s not necessary to bring this political fringe into the fight for free speech. What is of more real importance is the state of affairs in this country where exaggerations and outright lies are becoming the new facts. Trump defends selling arms to Saudi Arabia by referring to the 40,000 people employed that would be laid off if SA were to be sanctioned. Almost within the same day that number expands to over a million. This disregard of the truth is becoming far more dangerous to our freedoms than anything the French, Germans, or English could come up with. One doesn’t have to ‘read carefully’ to see how Trump is employing methods used by dictators to rev up the mob, the mob comprised of those who can’t think for themselves. The problem is much closer to home. But, that’s what the mob needs, others at which to point in order through contrast, false or otherwise, to make the mob justified in its leader’s actions, actions that will lead to the very unrealistic problems Turley points to in France. Turley does do a fairly thorough job in surfacing the extreme fringe elements of the politically correct in this country, though. Credit where credit’s due.

    1. Wrong, free speech erosion ALWAYS comes from the edges or what you call fringe

      the story is about something that is using pronounciation as a form of localality “discrimination.”

      Discrimination is something that means telling the difference between things. That’s all. It has been demonized in society; that is the deeper problem, and it’s a problem, because humans are social animals and will always form groups to compete. so discrimination based on groups can never be eradicated, any more than greed sloth or envy

      1. Kurtz

        Free speech erosion as well as other erosions may ‘come’ from the fringe, whether that be from the left fringe or the right fringe, however, it comes, more often than not, with an attached absurdity and is gone over thoroughly by the more stable in society that it rarely gets anywhere. When it does it, more often than not, swings back towards the center. It is the pendulum that would not go in one direction to an extreme if it weren’t coming from an equal extreme of the other direction. Witness the 70s as a result of the 60s, then focus on today where society is closer to the center, never correct for all but closer to the center.

        Then, pay attention to Trump and his extremes: lying, hatred, blaming, false facts, buffoonery, etc. This disgusting travesty eclipses anything the French, British, Germans, etc are doing when it comes to extremes. It’s right in front of you. It’s right in front of Turley also; but Turley focuses on the idiosyncratic diversions of other countries’ non moves and the next to meaningless and equally absurd actions of ‘academics’ who have never enjoyed enough sunlight and oxygen. Perhaps Trump and his perversions are simply beyond comprehension for Turley. Perhaps Americans are immune to the treason that is Trump because they are Number One.

  4. Melenchon mimicked the journalist’s accent and told her she was “talking nonsense” before turning away and saying: “Has anyone got a question in more or less comprehensible French?”

    I read this sentence and Al Sharpton came to mind. I remember the first time I tuned in to watch “the news” on MSNBC at 6pm.

    There was the Rev. Al Sharpton, mumbling along, hardly able to pronounce the words he was reading from his teleprompter. For real. The man was given the prime time news slot and he could barely speak understandable English. My first thought was “is this some kind bad joke?” What credible “news organization” like NBC, would put Al Sharpton on to host their prime time slot for evening news? Apparently being able to speak proper English is not a requirement for you to have your own news program on NBC. Yeah, no quid pro quo payoffs going on there. How many years did BSNBC have Sharpton hosting a news show weekdays at 6pm before they finally moved him to early Sunday morning? What total garbage that network is.

    1. A signature Sharpton line is ‘Why you axing me dat’.

      As far as I can tell, Sharpton speaks standard English on the air, not dialect. He has the vernacular elocution that’s modal among New York blacks and which is suboptimal in broadcasting. I have no trouble understanding him. Now, you get someone from Mississippi or Louisiana on the air or in a lecture hall, and it can be challenging. I once was acquainted with an education professor who’d worked in broadcasting before graduate school. Almost incomprehensible. Years after she’d moved out of the area, I caught an article by her in which she fumed about how ‘racism’ had limited her career in television news. Telling her, “Denise, you weren’t getting air time because your elocution stinks” wouldn’t have educated her, I’m afraid.

        1. . Taborrok…….the irony is, the Southern blacks got their accents from the poor Southern whites. Being from the South, I discovered this when I was young. Old white preachers who had been very poor growing up, sounded exactly like Southern blacks, and vice versa.
          My mother in law, who had been raised dirt poor in Georgia, lived to be 101, and always pronounced “th” at the end of a word like an “f”. But, isn’t that a hold-over from Cockney because of prisoners brought to Georgia when it was settled? Just a guess. I think accents and language are fascinating!
          And N’Orleans is where you rarely hear a Southern accent. True N’Orleaneans sound like they’re from Bronx/Brooklyn! It’s so weird.

      1. Sharpton is so bad that even SNL used to mock him in skits.

        “The real purpose of voter ID laws is to dissenfrenchfries black people.”

        “The RePUBlicans are down right jiddy over it.” (The word is “giddy,” pronounced with a hard “g” but in Sharpton-speak, it’s pronounced “jiddy”).

        Sharpton even mocks himself. He knows he can’t read. The man is inarticulate, but that didn’t stop NBC News from giving him
        his own political “news” show at 6pm weekdays.

        If someone made the same comment — “Has anyone got a question in more or less comprehensible English? –in response to a mumbled, jumbled question from Al Sharpton? It could never be considered an outrageous thing to say. Because it’s the truth.

        1. George W Bush has a history of malapropisms too. He was still a better public speaker than was his father, who was painful to listen to.

          1. i want to see this movie about cheney just so i can get a laugh out of the guy who plays bush,. i saw a trailer and it was funny

        2. TBob…..but, believe it or not, he went to law school. Wasn’t it NYU or some school up there?

            1. TBob………….I swear I read that in a biography about him when he ran for President. It must have been fabricated because today wiki states that he dropped out of school. I also read that he tried to talk dumb to keep his street cred…….but I guess it’s for real LOL

              1. I don’t think he has any tertiary schooling. His employment history is opaque and our useless media have been uninterested in sussing out just what his sources of income were.

  5. I am reminded of what Mark Twain said when he heard that a preacher was condemning the Devil without giving the Devil the chance to confront the witnesses against him. Said Twain: “it is irregular. It is un-English. It is un-American. it is French.” Hear, hear!

  6. When the caravan of 7000 reaches the U.S. boarder, get familiar with at least 3 Spanish words: Senorita, muchacho & comancheros

    1. It’s 14,000 now, and has anyone figured out who’s funding the caravan? Who’s providing the food, diapers, formula, medical care, sanitation?

      1. The organizers are citizens of host countries & lawyers….They didn’t join the caravan

        The people who left property & possessions behind may have also paid $5000 to human traffickers. Somebody is getting rich.

      2. Who’s providing the food, diapers, formula, medical care, sanitation?

        The very same people licking their chops at the impending confrontation at our border. Overwhelm the system; never let a crisis go to waste.

        We have a mob of people marching toward our border proudly carrying flags supposedly from their country of origin and burning the flag of the very country they want to be welcomed into. That doesn’t strike me as a group grudgingly fleeing a country that has ruined their lives so much as an invading army intent on wrecking havoc in our country.

        Is there anyone from the Left in our out of government standing up for United States sovereignty and supporting border security? Anyone?

    1. mespo – half the fun of ‘Allo ‘Allo is making fun of Officer Crabtree’s terrible French accent. 😉

      1. Cindy Bragg – well, she set the UN back. We should get her for our new ambassador to the UN. They will expel us in a week. 😉 We can expel them from the country in the next week. It is win-win.

        1. PC Schulte,…
          Trump is far from finished with the job of reshaping and restaffing the U.S. Diplomatic Corp.
          The link I posted here at 5:35 PM probably shows the kind of “diplomacy” Trump prefers😂.

  7. Melenchon mimicked the journalist’s accent and told her she was “talking nonsense” before turning away and saying: “Has anyone got a question in more or less comprehensible French?” The reporter was from the southwestern areas of France.

    Melenchon’s outfit occupies the spectrum space which used to be filled by the French Communist Party. It’s the sort of off hand remark which reminds you of who the left really respects and who are marks. Look across the Channel. The British Labour Party has had 11 leaders since 1935. Of these, just two grew up in wage-earner households and just three lacked a university degree (as recently as 1965 only about 5% of each birth cohort obtained such a degree).

  8. Of course this is inane. What we’ve been learning is the logic of ‘anti-discrimination law’. The proliferation of ‘rights’ threatens freedom. Rights are allocated by courts and pressing for your rights (and defending against the claims of others) requires hiring lawyers. So, your capacity to exercise what would have been the ordinary discretion of a free man in 1955 is only with the suffrance of lawyers. What it amounts to is transferring status allocation from the society at large to the legal profession. The legal profession in turn sets up strata where their preferred mascots are on top. The advent of ‘hate speech’ laws and their ordinary practical effect reflects the evolution of the identity mix of the set of mascot groups in favor of those with a more neuralgic reaction to verbal slights. Also, it reflects the changing nature of progtrash politics generally in favor of the interests and reflexes of the word merchant sector (who tend to regard legitimate political participation as a occuring among peers. Ordinary wage earners are not peers. They are pairs of hands., whose public protestations are just contempt of court and classroom disruption.

  9. Whose interests does this law serve? Everyone has an accent in the view of those with a different accent.

    1. Glottaphobia is the distilled essence of xenophobia. Nothing else says “outsider” or “foreigner” quite so effectively as an accent or a dialect does.

      Even so, there are limits to what laws can accomplish. And banning glottaphobia greatly exceeds those limits. Most forms of low behavior should be subject to criticism, not fines, nor incarceration.

  10. French people are known to eat frogs. American people are sometimes known to call French people frogs. Four legs good, two legs baaaad! If you hop over there to frogland you will sometimes find three legged frogs who want to curb your speech or burp.

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