English in the Ariège landscape

Symbols of Englishness in the Ariège Pyrenees

I follow a few French Instagrammers as I love to see what others are doing in the Ariège mountains.  I’ve noticed how some of them post using English rather than French language.  I guess it’s to reach a wider audience, which is interesting because in Ariège I don’t think that English is that widely spoken there (people often tell me that Spanish is often learned in schools, before English).

You don’t see written English very often in the Ariège public sphere (what researchers call the linguistic landscape) but I can share some observations that I noted when doing my research on English migration.

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Where the house was

Why do English people move to Ariege, France?

When I first began researching British incomers in Ariège, I was curious as to why they’d chosen that out-of-the-way corner of France.  It turns out that choice wasn’t always the right word… For quite a few people it was simply where the house was, rather than an informed decision based on what that area offered as a way of life to them, beyond the house itself.

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The media and the Brits in France

How are British incomers in France portrayed in the British media?

A flood, an invasion, bloodsuckers… we’ve all seen immigrants depicted using this kind of language in the British press.  Yet it surprised me to find that British journalists use the same language to refer to their compatriots who are living in France.

Migration often fosters resentment, but resentment of the British abroad is sometimes generated by other British people, in a kind of ‘us and them’ scenario.  My research led me to investigate how the Brits in France have been portrayed in the media in the first decade of the 21st century.  Continue reading “The media and the Brits in France”