Does the French forum need a tag like the one below for French?

spoken-English Edit The way in which English is spoken, either formally or informally. As opposed to written usage.

That tag is in ELL. I tried to create a tag for parlé and it was removed by a participant. So, I just went back and recreated it as "français-parlé". To make a longer tag, one has to use the hyphen.

Here is the link (though I don't know if the français-parlé) will be removed at this point or not.

I think it is extremely useful as a tag because often users might like to know if there is a difference between spoken and written French.

Bear in mind that the topic la grammaire du français parlé exists in French language teaching circles:

Le français parlé est depuis longtemps un axe majeur de l’enseignement du FLE. Les approches communicatives-fonctionnelles et l’approche actionnelle ont diffusé un certain nombre d’outils susceptibles de faciliter cet enseignement. C’est ainsi que l’on a invité les enseignants à articuler de manière cohérente la matière linguistique avec des actes de langage précis ou des notions, notamment à partir de la publication de Un Niveau-Seuil (1976), puis des tâches langagières ou non, depuis le Cadre commun européen de référence pour les langues (1999). L’enseignement du FLE semble donc se démarquer nettement de celui du français langue maternelle, plus axé sur l’écrit et sur une grammaire plutôt normative et prescriptive. L’un des objectifs majeurs du FLE, et l’un de ses paradoxes, est en effet d’enseigner en classe le français tel qu’il se parle en-dehors de la classe.

Please click on the link to read the entire article. I reproduced that text because it is a good explanation of spoken language not because it comes from a teaching site. The fact it is on a teaching site does not affect it's relevance to the importance of spoken language as a language category.

la grammaire du français parlé

Scholarpedia, the peer-reviewed open access encyclopedia, has the entry below on Language (Linguistics)

The full contents sections are:

1 Language as a Human Attribute
2 How Many Languages
3 Language and Linguistics
4 Written Language and Spoken Language
5 Language Equality
6 What languages have in common
7 Regular Language Change
8 Conclusion
9 References [...]

Written Language and Spoken Language Most people think of a language as primarily written. Indeed, when a person studies a language in school, they usually study the written language, either literature (texts written in the language) or composition (in which the students compose their own written texts). Spoken language is given second place in schools and universities, except at the very elementary level of foreign language study. What set modern linguistics apart, beginning in the nineteenth century, was the realization that the opposite is true: language is primarily spoken and written language is an imperfect reflection of spoken language, conveyed through a fairly new and imperfect technology, writing.

written and spoken language

It seems to me that this (written versus spoken) is a basic distinction. Indeed, all questions here and the English language forums fall under one or the other. And not everybody realizes there is a difference which is why in some cases, it is a good idea to provide a label. Sometimes, understanding that something is one or other makes it explainable.

The tag "oral" has this for an explanation: Particularités de la communication orale (dialogue, discussion, discours, élocution), ainsi que leur transcriptions à l'écrit.

Here is the problem with the explanation of the tag. Spoken communication is one thing, spoken language is another. Communication via some kind of information sharing or transmission is generally understood to be a process that occurs over a channel (can be the air between two people, the airwaves, etc.). A message on the radio from authorities about a storm can be communication or a message. It happens with words. However, it is not spoken language. It is written language that is read out loud.

Not all spoken language implies communication. People speak all the time without communicating. Human communication is generally understood to be: verbal, non-verbal and visual. [Bear in mind, in Helen Keller's case it was done by touch and feel.]

The term "communication orale" in French refers to what is explained here in English as oral communication:

Oral communication is the process of verbally transmitting information and ideas from one individual or group to another. Learn more about the definition and types of oral communication, advantages and disadvantages of each type, and tips for developing oral communication skills. Updated: 08/29/2021 Definition and Types Great communication skills are your ticket to success in the academic and business world. But have you ever been overcome by fear or anxiety prior to going on a job interview or speaking in front of an audience? Knowing when to choose oral communication and polishing your speaking skills can help you at every stage of your career.

Oral communication is the process of verbally transmitting information and ideas from one individual or group to another. Oral communication can be either formal or informal. Examples of informal oral communication include:

Face-to-face conversations
Telephone conversations
Discussions that take place at business meetings
More formal types of oral communication include:

Presentations at business meetings
Classroom lectures
Commencement speeches given at a graduation ceremony

oral communication

It is a broad category as regards communication (transmitting information), but this does not, in my view cover language per se but rather the process.

[Nota Bene: I had said at some point in the chat something about "registre écrit" and this generated a firestorm of protest. For the life of me, I could not understand why this was. In French, the four registers (registres) aka niveaux de langue are:

  1. La langue populaire [vernacular]
  2. La langue familière [colloquial]
  3. La langue standard [standard, aka courant in French]
  4. La langue soutenue ou littéraire [formal or literary]

English definitions of language registers or levels are similar but do not overlap 100% for each though all those are included in whatever one chooses to use (except I think for one that is called "static"). But that is not the question being dealt with here. In any event, back to the subject, when I wrote "registre écrit", the meaning to me was obvious and would be, I think, to any informed language professional (translators, editors, proofreaders, copy editors, writers, etc.) It refers to: le registre écrit [de la langue] versus le registre parlé [de langue].

Obviously, the four definitions above (langue populaire, familière, standard and soutenue) apply to both spoken and written language.

Spoken language and written language can come under any one of those four categories.]

To support this idea of registre de langue, parlé ou écrit, here is a language teaching document by the Institut Français de Londres for A level students in London, that says on page 18: Travail sur le registre de langue, parlé ou écrit.
Slides on Formation des assistants de français au Royaume Uni

  • 2
    In what way would this tag differ from langage-informel?
    – Tsundoku Mod
    Apr 25, 2022 at 19:59
  • @Tsundoku Well, in English something can be colloquial (langage-informel) but not be spoken necessarily. As I see it, the same would be true in French. I think there should be two tags: langage-parlé and langage-écrit. I just created langage-parlé and Earendelle removed it calling it a gimmick. Franchement, on essaie d'apporter quelque chose de positif, mais rien à faire...
    – Lambie
    Apr 25, 2022 at 20:03
  • Est-que ma question ici mérite un -1? Incroyable.
    – Lambie
    Apr 25, 2022 at 20:15
  • 2
    I did not vote but how long did you spend looking at the tags? The site wasn't born yesterday and many of these concerns have already been addressed but this is still a work in progress. Yet a keyword should not overlap or duplicate needlessly another tag and a careful study should prove useful. If we think it's unlikely the oral tag might be used by someone who speaks English maybe an alias is in order. But what you refer to is already accounted for with the oral tag as per my answer. Apr 25, 2022 at 22:30
  • @Earendelle (dialogue, discussion, discours, élocution) are not all langage parlé. DIscours and élocution are formal speech, but not spoken language. Dialogue and oral discussions are the same category. yes. So whoever did that tag was perhaps not aware of the fact there are two separate categories there. Also, communication in both languages is not good there.
    – Lambie
    Apr 25, 2022 at 23:04
  • particularités de la communication orale cannot be a tag. and oral does not cover it. spoken languages is very specific. spoken/written language. It is not informelle/formelle. How can a French speaker possibly object to: français-parlé? Or: langue parlé? as opposed to langue-écrite., I think I will create another tag for that.
    – Lambie
    Apr 25, 2022 at 23:35
  • I find it truly shocking that anyone would object to langage parlé or français parlé. Oral communication as a category is not the same as those at all. Clearly, there is a lacuna here in the understanding of linguistic realities and practices in the fields of language teaching and linguistics. I do not understand the vitriol on this subject. The loser is the site, not me. :)
    – Lambie
    May 9, 2022 at 14:35
  • 2
    Please keep this conversation civil.
    – Tsundoku Mod
    May 9, 2022 at 19:50
  • @Tsundoku It would be useful to have the opinion of others like yourself. You asked me a question, I answered and you never responded. Was it rhetorical? Besides that, I wonder if there are any professional linguists here because I see no evidence of it beyond one in particular but who has not stepped up to the plate here. Also, it does not seem to matter what one says about this issue, it all seems to boil down to moralizing. Take a look at the downvotes I have received. It is like serial downvoting. I am considering giving up this site due to indirect harassment issues.
    – Lambie
    May 9, 2022 at 23:37
  • For example, I consider this harassment: "More so than the creation of the tag itself is the self-entitlement and using the tag to promote your view of the language which clashes with many native speakers". It has nothing to do with native speakers. It has to do with linguistics and how linguists analyze language utterances. This is typical of the kind of comments made to me. I was suspended for much, much less. The term oral communication is a category of communication (in French and English) but spoken versus written language is what linguists actually study.
    – Lambie
    May 9, 2022 at 23:49
  • 1
    @Lambie (1) My original question was a prompt for you to clarify something that you had not discussed. I was hoping (and still am) that you would edit that clarification into the question itself instead of keeping it as a comment. (2) With regard to linguistics as an argument: please bear in mind that tags on SE sites are folksonomies rather than accurate representations of a specific field. This is why debates and tensions may arise when new tags are proposed, i.e. opposition between the satisficing approach of folksonomies and an academic emphasis on "correctness".
    – Tsundoku Mod
    May 10, 2022 at 8:21
  • 1
    Hence, what looks ideal from an academic point of view is often unattainable in a site's tags. (I am saying this as an academic, by the way.)
    – Tsundoku Mod
    May 10, 2022 at 8:23
  • @Tsundoku "please bear in mind that tags on SE sites are folksonomies rather than accurate representations of a specific field. " It would have been useful for you to weigh in earlier on this. It still does not clarify this for me. If tags are user generated, and I am a user, I should be able to create a tag based on the basics, as it were, without being denigrated. Forget linguistics, spoken/written is a basic division of how we know language.
    – Lambie
    May 10, 2022 at 13:17
  • 3
    I'm closing this question because it has become virtually impossible to moderate, given the inability of some people to have a civil and organized conversation. EDIT: it appears that FSE thinks I closed it for an "off-topic" reason, I actually selected "community specific reason", for information.
    – Reyedy
    May 12, 2022 at 13:41
  • 1
    I second @Reyedy's decision. This meta post turned into a discussion that is not conducive to the creation of consensus.
    – Tsundoku Mod
    May 12, 2022 at 13:48

7 Answers 7


Le mot-clé oral existe déjà :

Particularités de la communication orale (dialogue, discussion, discours, élocution), ainsi que leur transcriptions à l'écrit.

Il faut par ailleurs noter que le site n'est pas un site voué à l'apprentissage du français langue étrangère (FLE) mais bien un site pour tous, apprenants et locuteurs dont c'est la langue maternelle :

Le site « French Language Stack Exchange » est un site de questions et réponses consacré à la langue française. Il s'adresse aux linguistes, aux enseignants, aux étudiants, et à toute personne qui s'intéresse de près à la langue française (y compris ses variations régionales ou dialectales). (voir l'aide)


  • oral et langue-parlée ne sont pas la même chose. On fait la distinction langue parlée et langue écrite en dehors de toute apprentissage du français comme langue étrangère.
    – Lambie
    Apr 28, 2022 at 18:26
  • Oui, parce il y a aussi beacoup d'apprenants ici. Mais je dois dire qu'en anglais, on dispute souvent si un truc pourrait être écrit ou parlé, alors je ne vois pas comment cela ne s'appliquerait aussi en français. Ou toute autre langue.
    – Lambie
    Apr 28, 2022 at 20:26
  • La grammaire du français parlé n'est pas la grammaire du français écrit. dialogue, discussion = langue parlé ///discours, élocution=langue écrite pour être lu ou langage formelle. Faire une catégorie des quatre est une faute d'analyse de la realité des langues/langages.
    – Lambie
    Apr 28, 2022 at 20:42
  • (dialogue, discussion, discours, élocution)=dialogue, discussion, speech [usually parole in French), delivery [of spoken language], discours is either I give a speech, I have a pacificst's discourse, the word discours here should be parole in French, not discourse. Un discours fachot: a fascist discourse.
    – Lambie
    Apr 28, 2022 at 20:54
  • You can turn this into a bad translation issue which only a literary translator can solve, but the fact remains, "Particularités de la communication orale (dialogue, discussion, discours, élocution), ainsi que leur transcriptions à l'écrit" i.e. oral is perfectly apt a keyword, I disagree with your suggestion and find none of your points convincing, if accurate to begin with. Apr 28, 2022 at 20:56
  • *La communcation orale n'est pas "oral". Et "Particularités de la communication orale" fait parti apparamment de ce site ou genre de site: pour les enseignants usherbrooke.ca/admission/fiches-cours/DFT201?fp=000 Par exemple. La phrase qui explique l'étiquette est trompeuse.
    – Lambie
    May 1, 2022 at 18:21

In the course of debating the suggestion, a supporting argument was presented concerning a fundamental divide between speech and writing in terms of registers; the registers of language which exists for speech would not be the same registers for writing and each house of cards constituted a watertight compartment with it own registers. The following quote was presented in support of the claim:

The analysis further identifies a fundamental distinction between the discourse complexities of written and spoken registers: written registers exhibit many complexity profiles, differing widely in both the extent and the kinds of complexity, while spoken registers manifest a single major pattern differing only in extent.

Using Register-Diversified Corpora for General Language Studies, Biber (1993).

Biber's research is not about discussing the fundamentals of language as an introduction to linguistics and shouldn't be used to make it say something it doesn't. Consider the first few lines of his Introduction:

As the use of computer-based text corpora has become increasingly important for research in natural language processing, lexicography, and descriptive linguistics, issues relating to corpus design have also assumed central importance. Two main considerations are important here: 1) the size of the corpus (including the length and number of text samples), and 2) the range of text categories (or registers) that samples are selected from.

Two pages later follows Table 1 (Mean frequencies of three dependent clause types (per 1,000 words) in four registers) which lists 4 registers: Press reports, Official documents, Conversations and Prepared Speeches. Obvioulsy the word register is used for text categories in the corpus and therefore the original quote doesn't support the claim that was made. These "registers" don't match a classic or expanded definitions for language register; "Dans la linguistique française on distingue d’ordinaire trois registres principaux (familier, courant et soutenu)[...]" (Wikipedia).

Furthermore, reliance on a specific or non standard or foreign school of thought to ground lexicon on the site doesn't make sense because it isn't up to us to settle these differences and take sides, and being a linguist of a specific school is not a requirement to use the site and shouldn't be required to understand its tags and keywords.

  • So, you use Wikipedia but say my comment on Saussure using Wikipedia is invalid. Different strokes for different folks, I guess. And here is a French teaching site with these keys words: Dictée à l'adulte, Pratique pédagogique, Registre oral, Registre écrit, Délégation d'écriture, Scripteur, Étayage dante.univ-tlse2.fr/6124 The four main registers (familier, courant, soutenu and populaire, they don't mention that last one) are items that can describe written or spoken language. Both have those characteristics.
    – Lambie
    May 10, 2022 at 18:37
  • My use of Wikipedia shows Saussure's as one way to see things, as a conceptual paradigm, among many, in a field. Yours does not. Maybe it's time for you to make the answer you wanted to hear. You can answer your own post, and you can even select your answer! It may take precedence over mine in the order. Cheers. May 10, 2022 at 19:13

A rationale was suggested for tag duplication in the comments by saying that "ELU has: AND . For French: parole et français parlé". This is first technically inaccurate. The speech tag on ELU is explained as "Questions about spoken English, both formal and informal" and spoken English is a tag synonym for the speech tag. The two refer to the exact same reality on the site and the latter is there for convenience or for whatever (historical site) reason, not because of some intricate nuance. ELL (as well as the Linguistics site) has it the other way around but with the same logic (ie. one is a tag synonym for the other). I discussed looking into such "aliases" 15 days ago, for convenience...

When you look at Larousse online's translation for speech you'll find "parole", "langage parlé" and the phrase to express oneself in speech/s'exprimer oralement or par la parole. There is no doubt oral and its usage guidance in the tag info fit the bill here. I find "parole" a poor label for a category and it's not used like the word speech is used in English, plus we have paroles-de-chanson as a tag. On the other hand we don't have a "langue écrite" but we have the tag; I note ELU has the tag for "questions specifically related to written English". As it stands there is no significant difference between the sites except for tag synonyms.

The and tags both on ELL and ELU refer to the same reality since one is merely an alias for the other. Tag synonyms could add to the fact oral is apt a keyword here in French. But creating new tags based on unsubtantiated nuances, showing little regard for French terminology and word usage, downplaying of the semantics of oral in French and possibly a misunderstanding of tag synonyms elsewhere, is not advisable imho.

  • Ferdinand de Saussure: parole, translated as speech: From a formal linguistics perspective, Saussure's concept of language (langue et langage) and speech (parole) can be thought of as corresponding, respectively, to a formal language and the sentences it generates. De Saussure argued before Course in General Linguistics that linguistic expressions might be algebraic.[7] en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Langue_and_parole And same page: Langue therefore corresponds to the common meaning of language,
    – Lambie
    May 10, 2022 at 13:08
  • cont'd: and the pair langue versus parole is properly expressed in English as 'language versus speech',[1]
    – Lambie
    May 10, 2022 at 13:11

The question presented the relevance of spoken language when teaching French and we all agree on this. Yet comments refer to specific schools of thoughts and cutting edge specialized or idiosyncratic use of lexicon, sometimes referencing English language tip of the spear linguistics. This companion answer serves as a reminder that other sites on the network deal with these topics and are dedicated to them and surely people there would "get it" (with due scrutiny, of course, because that's required everywhere) better than me. For instance:

Linguistics SE: Linguistics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professional linguists and others with an interest in linguistic research and theory. It only takes a minute to sign up. [as a side note the site also uses the same speech/spoken-english tag setup with one being the synonym for the other.]

Language Learning SE: Language Learning Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for students, teachers, polyglots, and anyone interested in the techniques of second-language acquisition. It only takes a minute to sign up.

Before someone asks, sure we have the tag.

  • There is nothing "methodologically wrong" with citing a language teaching site to explain the idea of written versus spoken language. "étiquettes transversales" are not a problem. Many sites might have the similar tags or even the same ones. Who would complain about that?
    – Lambie
    May 10, 2022 at 19:37

The question stated:

I tried to create a tag for parlé and it was removed by a participant. So, I just went back and recreated it as "français-parlé". To make a longer tag, one has to use the hyphen.

Context. I'm a community user who triggered a rollback on 3 Q&As (1, 2, 3) because of what I perceived to be trivial edits and unwarranted tag associations with the content, in a context where the asker is not a newbie etc. This does not delete or remove a tag, it removes it from the tag selection for these question. I cannot delete tags that I know of and I wouldn't anyways. But I will systematically flag spurious tag creation, such as when a duplicate tag is created for the purpose of making content more compatible with one's opinion of the language, since it only takes 150 rep points to create a tag and 1250 to enable a tag synonym (see privileges). Other instances have shown the opaque criteria used to qualify the content according to OP's wishes and advanced notions is unclear.


It seems to me that the following comment made by user Lambie (see comments below the OP) is decisive in a choice for changing the tag "oral" into the tag "langue-parlée" or "français-parlé", or even "parler", although this latter, if concise, does not communicate so well the idea and might not be as easy to use.

(dialogue, discussion, discours, élocution) are not all langage parlé. Discours and élocution are formal speech, but not spoken language. Dialogue and oral discussions are the same category. yes. So whoever did that tag was perhaps not aware of the fact there are two separate categories there. Also, communication in both languages is not good there.

Whatever the choice, the change, unintentionnally proposed, seems pertinent. A very specific term will now be available; that is an improvement.

  • I meant adding "langue parlée" or "français-parlé". Anyway, I have already added that tag to the list of tags.
    – Lambie
    Apr 28, 2022 at 14:50

The question was modified to include the following:

The tag "oral" has this for an explanation: Particularités de la communication orale (dialogue, discussion, discours, élocution), ainsi que leur transcriptions à l'écrit. Here is the problem with the explanation of the tag. Spoken communication is one thing, spoken language is another.

Then it's surprising ELU and ELL don't have a spoken communication tag to reflect this difference and OP will no doubt petition the corresponding meta sites to include this new tag in the future...

A further statement was made concerning what "oral" and "communication orale" could mean in French, quoting from things which seem to me related to "savoir s'exprimer" as a skill or "art oratoire" and such. I will present authoritative content from the LBU to show a baseline in terms of classic presentation and lexicon, as the meaning of oral as a topic in French is not defined by a random article in English about some motivational pep talk for a job interview. Of course, presenting a topic involves some choices and a different presentation is possible. Here is Le bon usage, Grevisse et Goosse, 14e., éd. Duculot, 2011 § 3, 13 in full (notes omitted):

enter image description here enter image description here

enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here

There is nuance and a different angle to each pair of words, but I can see français oral being used at some point... I mean is that the language or the communication?? The presentation comforts me with the idea that oral is highly meaningful in French and that its usage and scope goes way beyond what was quoted in the question, which therefore fails to restrict its scope in order to justify a duplicate tag with an opaque set of tagging criteria.

If anything, this could warrant updating tag infos or maybe the creation of tag synonyms to oral and écriture respectively; not a lecture and the creation of duplicate tags, including "langue-parle" without a diacritic or similar antics, nor the downplaying of the word oral as well as the sidetracking of its associated tag.

In my view the tags should be meaningful, shouldn't cancel one another, shouldn't require a degree to understand and shouldn't be promoted/demoted based on what looks the most like English language lexicon or according to what rings better according to the English language sensibilities.

  • I claim this is fair use in context. A canonical and authoritative presentation was needed and typing it could not make is as authoritative. Notes have been omitted but nothing has been touched. I speculate on the meta part of the site, this creates less exposure than on the main site. The images promote and showcase the quality of the work and its presentation, including different font sizes and formatting, examples. Nothing presented contains new and original research per se. May 11, 2022 at 1:02

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