In this paper I have attempted to classify and explain 30 words and phrases representative of language medley in Northern France. They illustrate a mixture of Germanic and Romance languages: Flemish in French and Picard, French in Flemish, Picard in French and vice versa. I will discuss imagination, word-play and lexical creativity in code-switching situations, as well as the dynamics of regional variation in the epilinguistic data under consideration.
In 1965, I recorded some conversations in the Picard dialect of Aubers, a village located in northern France. I used hearing tests to extract a corpus of 70 words containing diphthongs. The speakers I considered to be representative were born respectively in 1885, 1898 and 1902. Their diphthongs are different from those of traditional Picard speakers and affect both dialect and common French words. A spectrographic analysis allowed me to single out three types of phenomena in the corpus: the vocalization of semi-consonant, the development of an epenthetic vowel before and after a stressed vowel. Various stages of phonetic evolution have thus been stressed, appearing in several points of my Picard Linguistic Atlas maps, insertion of a vocalic element before some accented vowels, lengthening of “epenthetic” vowels, prominence shift from the second to the first accented element of a syllable, as well as the loosening and loss of the second part of a diphthong. These phenomena affect both standard French and Picard words. The vocalic system of the Aubers dialect as spoken in 1900, as revealed by a spectrographic analysis, has no equivalent in the Picardy area.