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It is certainly possible to speak of (the equivalent of) "received pronunciation" in French, if one means an accent which is not identifiably regional.  But I have been asked about "posh" accents in French -  the equivalent of people saying "trizers" or "hice" in English for "trousers" and "house".  Would anyone like to give equivalent French examples?  Or does the phenomenon not really exist?

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The "posh" phenomenon does exist in French ! and, I suppose, wherever so-called "upper-class" individuals (or individuals wishing to be regarded  as upper-class persons...) want to distinguish themselves by means of a sophisticated way of speaking. It is not easy to specify words coming under "posh" accent. Just a few are coming to my mind right now :  

- pronouncing "â" (open "a", found in "la pâte" - the paste, or "la tâche" - the task)  instead of "a" (closed, short "a", found in "la patte" - the paw, or "la tache" - the stain) : "C'est normââl..."

- changing the values of nasal diphtongs "in", "an", into respectively in ->"an", and an ->"on" . Ex.: "Il y a vingt provinces en France", would be pronounced : "il y a van provances en Fronce."

A typical example of "posh" accent in French would be given, in my opinion, by former minister of Finance Christine Lagarde (now Director of IFM).

I will try to find out more examples of French posh for you when they come to my mind.


I am not convinced by this.  I have made a point of listening to Mme Lagarde on YouTube.  She speaks very precise, educated and coherent French.  She manages to use subjunctives appropriately.  Never a word out of place.  But her accent doesn't seem to me to be very different from that of others I know.  (I have lived in the UK for most of my life and accept that I am just a bit distant from contemporary, day-to-day, French usages, though I visit very often.)  I certainly didn't detect, in Mme Lagarde's speech, the long vowels or strange nasal diphthongs described by Jacques Fabre.  (Actually, I pronounce "pâte" and  " tâche" and "normal" just as M. Fabre describes.  Maybe I'm posh without knowing it.)

And, while I'm here, how would you render "posh" in French?

There are various degrees in posh-speaking, of course. In my comment, I did not mean to say that Mrs Lagarde was the kind of person who wish "to be regarded as an upper-class person" She obviously is by her education, culture, position, and, I suppose, social origin. Her posh is moderate, and far from the ridicule of those who, pretending to be what they are not, cannot avoid exageration.

I could probably have found a better example of posh accent in "Marie-Chantal" (pronounce Marie-Chantââll), a snobbish character created by Jacques Chazot, a fashionable ex-classical dancer who turned very society during the 60's. I wonder whether anything about M.-Ch. or Jacques Chazot can be found on YouTube. If so, you will have a good idea of my conception of French posh.

By the way, I think "B.C.B.G." (for bon-chic-bon-genre) is the nearest translation of the idea contained in "posh" as I understand it.

What about "ouais"  for "oui" ? Is that supposed to be posh ?

Isn't there  another way of writing "moi"  like "maouais" (I am not sure about the spelling) that corresponds to  a posh way of talking?

When I was in France I seem to remember  the Parisian accent was mocked.Are Parisians  considered  posher than  other French people?

"Ouais" is far from posh.

I would say pronouncing "ouais" for "oui" is exactly the contrary of posh ! Posh locutors aim at appearing as distinguished, elegant, well-educated persons, whereas pronouncing "ouais" for "oui"comes under a loose style of expression, expected to be commonly used in working-classes, or by unrefined persons. It may be considered as typical of suburban populations in Paris area.

However, when used by (normally) educated persons, "ouais"  expresses that a person  is doubtful of what his interlocutor just said, or that he is reluctant to accept a proposal/an idea previously emitted. "Mouais" (or "mmmouais") emphazises the doubt or reluctance.


"Mmmouais" is also used by "Lucky luke !!"

Do people still read those comics? It must be about 40 years ago that I remember seeing those  cartoons?

Did they make a film? 


there is a french film

not very good

with "jean dujardin" 


but that's why I remember this 'mmouais"

I think yes, Lucky Luke is still read in France. The author of these comics is Goscinny, who is also Astérix' father, nearly as famous in France as Tintin's author : Hergé.

Yes, many cartoons of Lucky Luke were made, with famous French actors' voices for the dubbing.

I am personally very fond of Lucky Luke (and Astérix, of course !)


In general, "mmmm", as an isolated interjection or preceding any other word, is the mark of a doubt, or an hesitation. It is also often used as the expression of pleasure, admiration, satisfaction, astonishment, etc. , depending on the intonation pattern in which it is uttered.


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