Biloute, there are bastards on the road, we flee … Waze is now with an accent

“There’s danger there, if you do not want to end up in the bartenders, be careful.” Goodbye to the almost metallic and monotonous voice that warns you of danger when you ride. From now on, Antonin’s car can bring a touch of madness to the cabin of a car when its driver decides to launch the Waze application. Since this Tuesday, the navigation application has offered the Toulouse accent and typical expressions from the banks of the Garonne to counteract the pitfalls of the road. “To give it to me”, “boudu” or even “branquignole” are now part of the vocabulary of this assistant with a very occitan driving style.

But the 17 million French users can also choose to call on Mireille and her Provencal accent to get around traffic jams when there are “tarpins” of people on the motorway. Or ask for Biloute and his incomparable ch’ti accent, so much so that it looks like Dany Boon is sitting in the passenger seat.

“We wanted voices similar to ours”

Following the unofficial voices of Homer Simpson or Breton rapper Lorenzo, Waze decided to focus on the local to get closer to its users. And to decide who would be selected to join the application, they got their users to vote on their social networks. And it was two southern accents and a northern one that won. “The two neutral voices did not represent the diversity of the territory, but it is an occasional application by motorists. We wanted voices that looked like us, so we made sure they were authentic, and we got them validated by our local map editors, “explains Jérôme Marty, general manager of Waze France, which is based in France. Pink city.

For those who want to hear Catalan or Lorraine, it is always possible to use the “Record your voice” function and dictate your instructions. Thus, some are very successful, even though they are not part of the official Waze catalog. For the three validated news, there is also no question of being a caricature, “we would like to be anchored in reality”, assures the head of this guidance assistance in the top 10 of the most downloaded.

“To downplay linguistic diversity”

A way to reinforce the accents that are often the subject of remarks, sometimes derogatory, often entertaining. But that never leaves those who pronounce words with a different sound indifferent. Elatiana Razafi, associate professor of sociolinguistics at the University of Jean-Jaurès in Toulouse, has been working on this topic for years and, together with her students, has developed an exhibition on these “linguistic microaggressions”, which often have more influence than one might think. For if some make their accent an assertion tool, an identity marker, others will tend to delete it to avoid being stigmatized. Or be a victim of “glottophobia”.

Through this communication work through art, she wanted to create awareness and show a reality: “there are no people without an accent, it is a myth”, remembers the teacher-researcher who studies social relations through language, and therefore the accents. .

For her, the Waze approach has a positive aspect. “It’s important to have visibility of accents, to be exposed to linguistic diversity and to trivialize it,” explains Elatiana Razafi, who does not forget that Waze remains a commercial company.

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