The accent

Art de vivre

Publié le 26 November 2015 Mis à jour le 8 December 2018

Everything you need to know about the Marseille accent !

When it's in the air, we know we're home! It's lyrical, endearing and funny – just like the people of Marseille! We have a strong accent and we're more than proud of it. It's our signature and when people hear it, they know exactly where we're from…

"Oh Néné are you going to the dance?!"

a

You can find all the Marseille expressions inside the lift of the Mama Shelter Marseille!

Our accent is as old as our language. In the 16th century, people spoke different languages according to their region and every region had its own dialect. Little by little, the dialects disappeared, but the famous accents still found in the south-eastern and northern France remained.
Of course, our accent comes from the Provencal dialect spoken at the time, and when we had to speak French, we kept the same sounds. "You get to the South, you hear people talking and that's it, you know you've arrived!" The accent seen from here and elsewhere…: The trouble with our accent is that it's not perceived in the same way here and elsewhere… When people come here and hear granddads sitting around a table talking and playing cards with a glass of Pastis in hand, it rhymes with holidays, exotic climes and the marvellous picture postcard image of the South of France. But when someone from Marseille arrives in Paris and starts talking, it's a different story… It's funny, but doesn't sound very 'smart' and you're immediately categorized. You can even take lessons to lose your accent! It's a shame how society puts people in boxes, but anyway, we don't care, we love our accent !

Are you pointing or shooting?

We call it "La Bonne Mère"

To help you understand the Marseille lingo here's a little glossary you may find useful:

  • Un vier: male private parts, also meaning an idiot "oh mais t’es un vier toi!" (oh you're such an idiot)
  • Dégun: "oh mais y a dégun ici!", No it's not someone's name… Dégun actually means "no one"!
  • Càcou: this could be called the male version of a "cagole" which means a tarty girl… It could also be someone who's a bit of a yob
  • S’estrasser: it's better if this doesn't happen to you because it means to fall down pretty heavily "oh comme il s’est estrassé le mec!" (that bloke really came a cropper)
  • Piter: means to take the bait, but also refers to someone who is nibbling "Arrête de piter comme ça t’auras plus faim" (stop nibbling or you won't be hungry any more)
  • Mastre: someone clumsy "oh mais quel mastre lui, il a encore fait tomber l’échelle" (what a clumsy idiot, he's dropped the ladder again)
  • Fly (or flaï): no connection with flying – it means Pastis "sert moi un fly va…" (give me a Pastis would you)
  • Ça va: used at the end of every sentence, it doesn't mean "how are you?", just ok.
  • Aouf: free of charge "oh frère, je l’ai eu aouf celui-là!" (I got this for nothing bro!)
  • Scoumougne: bad luck or jinx "elle me porte la scoumougne celle-là!" (she brings me bad luck!)
  • Tarpin: means a lot "y a tarpin de monde ici" (there's a lot of people here)
  • Fatche: an exclamation "oh fatche de connnn" (good grief!)
  • Brêle: a good for nothing "oh mais t’es vraiment une brèle" (you're such a good for nothing!)
  • Taille: very "oh c’est taille de bon ce burger" (this burger is really fab)

There! We hope you're now ready to speak Marseille! In any case, our accent really is our identity and we wouldn't want to lose it for the world!

“Accent is the soul of language, it gives to it both feeling and truth.” Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Take a walk round the morning fish market if you want to hear what a real Marseille accent sounds like!

We are Anaïs and Pedro, we love loads of things, like the States, Japan, pizzas, Motorhead, Vietnamese food and karaoke… On our blog, we talk about our travels and the places we love in Marseille and elsewhere. We also host really fun evening events from time to time.

www.anaisetpedro.com

Other articles

Goat's Cheese

Goat's Cheese

Whether it's served hot with a salad, used to crown a cheese platter, or savoured fresh with honey or olive oil, goat's cheese is an absolute culinary must. Provence's dry, sunny climate is perfect for goat breeding -and that's lucky for us!

Candied Fruit

Candied Fruit

A gourmet treat…

Provence has been famed for its candied fruit from time immemorial. In the early 16th century, the region was fairly impoverished. Fruit grew here in abundance, but much of it was lost every year.

Tomatoes

Tomatoes

In a sauce or salad, red is the colour!

Not having qualifications doesn't mean your life is ruined

Almonds

Almonds

(Re)conquering Provence

Can anyone resist an almond? Everyone raves about these little nuggets of happiness you can savour every which way – fresh, dried, whole, grilled, sliced, ground or made into a cream or milk!

Squash

Squash

The Gourmet's New Eldorado

It had all but disappeared from the markets, but then – perhaps as a result of Halloween arriving in France – squash made a big comeback on our stalls just over a decade ago

Garlic

Garlic

It all starts with a crushed clove...

Provencal cuisine simply wouldn't exist without garlic

Figs

Figs

Francis lived happily close beside his tree...

Picked ripe from the tree, figs are simply to die for. They can also be scattered on trays and left to dry in the sun for 3 days: "That's the best way to keep your figs all winter – we serve figs at Christmas as one of Provence's famous 13 Desserts," smiles Jacqueline Honoré.

Quince

Quince

A story that will make you turn to jelly...

As yellow as sunshine and as warm as a winter fireplace... The quince isn't very pretty, but the people of Provence love it. You could even say that a passion has been born between this irregular-shaped fruit, somewhat resembling a dented, rustic pear and our lovers of jams, jellies and pastes.

The MEDITERRANEAN SEA

The MEDITERRANEAN SEA

Lifestyle

When we talk about the South of France, what's the first thing we think of? The MEDITERRANEAN SEA! (and the sun of course – it's all part of the package).

La Provence

La Provence

Provence is more than a simple destination, it's a whole way of life!

Calissons

Calissons

Aix-en-Provence prides in concocting 'Calisson' candies made with a thin candied melon paste and ground almonds topped with royal icing. Yummy

The Thirteen Desserts

The Thirteen Desserts

Celebrating Christmas in Provence with the Thirteen Desserts...