Publication details [#62740]

Vigouroux, Cécile B. 2017. The discursive pathway of two centuries of raciolinguistic stereotyping: ‘Africans as incapable of speaking French’. Language in Society 46 (1) : 5–21.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Language as a subject
Place, Publisher
Cambridge University Press


This paper deals with the discursive pathway of grammatical structures such as y'a bon ‘there's good’, recording how, in Hexagonal France, it has become an ‘enregistered emblem’ for indexing sub-Saharan Africans and, by extension, any African as reportedly unable of speaking French proficiently. It is claimed that tracing pathways enables to disclose the complexity of the historicities of production, circulation, and interpretations of such racially based linguistic stereotypes. One of the central questions handled in this paper is: What are the sociohistorical conditions of the apparition and upkeep of these linguistic stereotypes? It is displayed that these are grounded in long-standing linguistic ideologies of French as an exceptional language and of African languages and, thus, their speakers, as primitive. It is shown how the rise of first age mass culture in the nineteenth century added to both the entextualization and the circulation of these stereotypical representations.