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About Slang (l’argot)

Chers tous,

L’argot has been used for century in French. Extremists could even say French itself is derived from a Latin slang. Every historical period produces its own version of slang but the XXth century literature was very prompt at accepting those “dialects” as fair inspiration for writers. Names like Queneau and Dard/ San Antonio are now taught in schools while Audiard’s movies are now classics, but one quickly realizes that generations who did not grow up in those moments have problems understanding this prose since it is  representative of their periods. The reverse situation is the same and baby boomers have for example problems understanding the dialects born in the banlieues or the instant messages kids exchange on their cell phones.

Should a non native speaker write using argot? In most case the answer is no since speakers learns French in a limited group and don’t necessarily understand the strength and effects of those words outside of this group.

The best equivalent example in English is the F. word which should be use with extreme caution in text and only when the author is certain to reach the desired effect on his readership.

The only exception to this rule I would feel comfortable recommending are quotes, and only if the effect on the readership is fully understood.

Amicalement votre,

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