Célia Richy

Thesis title:

Regional variation and the commodification of language in southwest France


Célia’s research focuses on Bordeaux and Toulouse and is set within a tradition of work examining the commodification of language in late capitalism (Bourdieu, 1982; Heller, 2003, 2010; Heller & Duchêne, 2016, among others). Heller and Duchêne (2016:144) argue that “as authenticity produced by older forms of romantic nationalism becomes marketable in the growing and lucrative tourism industry, language becomes one key way to add value to a tourism product as a marker of that authenticity, while multilingualism allows that product to be widely consumed”.
In the case of Bordeaux and Toulouse, the “language” forms that constitute a potential cultural and economic asset include both regional languages (Gascon and Languedocien) and local, regional varieties of French. A primary goal of this research is to investigate how these languages/varieties are used to add symbolic value to place-related commodities and experiences. One specific parameter of variation for investigation relates to the specific products to be sold: luxury items vs produits du terroir and the particular strategies that speakers use for these different commodities (cf. Krause & Smith 2017). Another area of investigation involves the effect of inter-city connections and transport links on processes of commodification (Llamas, 2007; Bulot, 2013; Johnstone, 2004; Trimaille & Gasquet-Cyrus, 2013;  Blommaert, 2010).
My research therefore aims to address one main question and two sub-questions:
How and to what extent have regional varieties and languages of southwest France become commodified?
What contexts incite speakers of these normatively stigmatised languages and varieties to use regionalisms to add value to place-related commodities?
What are the effects of place (urban, rural) on the different language commodification strategies?

First supervisor:

Erez Levon


7 – Linguistics, Media & Culture