The accent

The accent

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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…

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

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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 !

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Are you pointing or shooting?

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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!

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“Accent is the soul of language, it gives to it both feeling and truth.” Jean-Jacques Rousseau
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Take a walk round the morning fish market if you want to hear what a real Marseille accent sounds like!

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