Jacques-Louis Ménétra and his experience of the <i>langue d’oc</i>
The <i>Mémoires</i> of an autodidact Parisian glazier, Jacques-Louis Ménétra, contain valuable data for linguists reconstructing vernacular speech in eighteenth-century France. As a young man, Ménétra spent several years travelling about the Occitan-speaking south. What was his experience of the <i>langue d’oc</i>? Upper-class Parisian travellers saw the south as, linguistically speaking, a foreign country, but Ménétra encountered no linguistic difficulties whatsoever. Why? Part of the answer may lie in the progress of standardisation, but the essential factor is probably one of language attitudes: Ménétra’s tolerance of language variation and his capacity for linguistic accommodation reflect age-old attitudes to vernacular speech which were very distant from the new ideology of standardisation developing among the metropolitan elites.