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Sand, Giono… Five regionalisms used by French writers


From Brittany to Provence, the variants of French make the flavor of the language. Many authors have used local terms. do you know them?

In literature, regionalism designates the tendency of a writer to describe in a literary work the mores, the landscapes, the particularities of a specific region, a province or a region.

We can thus speak of the regionalism of Marcel Pagnol, Louis Guilloux or Frédéric Mistral.

To discover

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But regionalism is also a trait of language, a construction or an expression specific to a region of France, as specified by the French Academy.

Giono, Pourrat, Carrière… Many authors have used it to anchor their characters, their plots, in a realistic setting, specific to a place.


George Sand and the “carriage”

From the Gaulish comes the “charroi”, deverbal of “charroyer” (in Latin “carrus”, “four-wheeled cargo car, van”).

The term has been used since the 12th century to refer to a cart, a dump truck, in other words a cargo car made of a box mounted on two wheels, capable of being unloaded by tilting at the rear.

Employed in various regions, the Indian George Sand mentions him several times in

La Petite Fadette

(1849), a novel set in the peasant world of Berry.

"Hay full cartage

," she wrote.

Or again:

“A large cartage with six oxen”


But also:

“To be in a bad cartage”

, which means

“to be in a bad patch”


Jean Carrière and the “borie”

In 1972, the Goncourt prize was awarded to Jean Carrière, for

L'épervier de Maheux


In this book, the writer from Nîmes tells the story of a poor peasant family in the Haut-Pays des Cévennes in the 1950s. He then uses the term "borie", a word from the Occitan "bòria", -even from the Latin “boaria” (“ox barn”), which designates an agricultural estate, a farm.

“The bories on the fortress walls [are] buried in the depths of the valleys, or lurking in some hole.

[With their] ground floor rooms almost always caught in the mountainside

,” writes Jean Carrière.

In his

Occitan-French Dictionary

, Louis Alibert specifies that in the 19th century, "borie" was used in the pejorative sense of "hovel", and that in Provence, the term also designated a dry stone hut which allowed the peasant to temporarily store a crop, tools, or shelter an animal.

Read alsoThese words that we owe to Victor Hugo

Jean Giono and the "Notos"

Synonymous with “Auster”, the name given by the Latins to the south wind, “Notos” is, in Greek mythology, the personification of the south wind.

As can be read in the

Trésor de la langue française

, the word, although rare (from the ancient Greek "Nótos"), is used in Provence to speak of the hot, humid and violent wind, which can be associate at the end of summer.

By antiphrase or by mistake, the term designates in Jean Giono a north wind.

In 1947, in


, he wrote:

“A solid north wind well squared in its area, one of those Notos from behind the faggots.”

Henri Pourrat and the "brayaud"

It was in Ambert, in the Puy-de-Dôme, that the writer Henri Pourrat spent his life.

A life of collecting oral literature from Auvergne and writing stories and novels about the region.

In 1922, in


des Montagnes: the castle of the seven doors, he uses the word "brayaud", probably derived from "bliaud" (designating a long tunic worn by men and women in the Middle Ages), himself from the Provençal “braio” (“breeches, trousers”).

This is how pants are called in this region of Auvergne.

We then read in the author's work:

"In the fashion of the people of Limagne, he was dressed in white shaves and in this white, with puffy gregues, brayauds, this boy as long as a day without bread, thin like a Lent, was visible from more than two leagues.”

Read alsoTen beautiful formulas to read and reread from French writers

Erckmann-Chatrian and the "schlitter"

“As I seemed weak and limped a little, my mother wanted me to learn a gentler trade than those of our village;

because there are only lumberjacks, charcoal burners and schlitters

,” wrote Émile Erckmann and Alexandre Chatrian in 1864, in

Histoire d’un conscript de 1813


Co-authors of a realistic work whose setting is mainly the former department of Meurthe, the two writers from the region use the vocabulary linked to this territory.

Also, by “schlitteur”, they mean someone who transports the felled wood by means of the “schlitte” (from the German “Schlitten”, “luge”, “sled”).

A regional term which, in the Vosges, we read in the

Trésor de la langue française

, designates a sled running on rails and used to transport felled wood.

Source: lefigaro

All news articles on 2023-03-30

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