Allow me to use English to pose this question please. I am a learner of French, now we are on the subject of "le passé simple". Wish to ask if the people in Midi and in Normandy in fact use le passé simple in daily conversation -- so it is still quite common to recount affairs that happened around them in a more detached voice?
The article that I came across was written 20 years ago by William H. Bryant. I am very much interested in the context that "le passé simple" would be used nowadays in France. Merci beaucoup.
"MYTH NUMBER THREE:"THE PASSE SIMPLE IS A LITERARY TENSE AND IS NOT USED CONVERSATIONALLY."While no one knowledgeable would argue with the first assertion in this sentence, that is, that the passe simple is a literary tense, the last proposition, that it is not used conversationally, simply runs counter to socio-linguistic reality, providing, as it does, another example of a grammatical half-truth. It is still reportedly spoken in the Midi and in Normandy, where, according to the brothers Le Bidois, 'il reste fort en usage."12 Thus, while it is unquestionably true that most Frenchmen, that is, those who live in the northern part of France, especially in and around Paris, do not, in fact, normally use the passe simple conversationally, one simply may not arbitrarily dismiss all those tens of thousands of people living in the South of France and in the western part of France who use and who consider the ect to its literary function, Mauger reports that: "[le passe simple]"a repris une vigueur nouvelle (à la 3e personne) dans cette langue particuliere qui est celle des journaux et de la radio."
Several other researchers come to a similar conclusion; namely, that, "le passe simple demeure toujours en usage dans la langue ecrite: langue litteraire (sauf un parti pris de refus: le nouveau roman), langue orale soutenue (qui releve de la langue ecrite), langue de la presse ecrite (et, par voie de consequence, de la presse parlee, radio et televi- sion)."" Since the passe simple, in written form, is employed not only in literature as such but also in newspapers, magazines, and in news reports on the radio and on television, it would seem more correct to assign it to la langue ecrite, in general, rather than exclusively to la langue litteraire-a vital distinction."
Demythifying French Grammar
Author(s): William H. Bryant
Source: The French Review, Vol. 58, No. 1 (Oct., 1984), pp. 19-25 Published by: American Association of Teachers of French
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/392509 .