In 19 th century Paris, there was a dialect spoken by the lower class which was associated with thieves and criminals and which was popularised by songs and films of the 30s. This sociolect has gradually disappeared since the Second World War and some of its slang has dispersed into general linguistic repertoire. We intend in this study to piece together salient features of what was known as the Parisian vernacular or ‘popular French’ from rare audio archives available at the Bibliothèque Nationale and to gauge its vitality in today's Paris.This work breaks down the study into three distinct corpora. The first is made up of two films from the Thirties: Fric-Frac and Le Jour se lève, characterised by the abundance of non-standard features. The film Fric-frac, adapted from a play from the Boulevard by Bourdet that was famous in the Thirties, and Le Jour se lève, written by the team of Carné/Prévert, are still considered to be anthology films of the Thirties. These masterpieces of pre-war cinema contrast the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. The second corpus is a corpus of the songs of Maurice Chevalier, a man who is well-known in France and the USA for his cheeky humour and his Parisian accent. The final corpus that I use is a corpus of street cries from the market collected in the archives of the Phonothèque nationale and that is now available at the BNF in Paris.
After giving a brief description of the sociology of Paris of the 15 th century to the current day, I seek to uncover the phonological, syntactical, discursive and lexical elements of each of these three corpora. With the help of a frequency table compiled by a concordancer, I analyse the vocabulary of the Parisian vernacular as it appears in the recordings of dialogues, songs and street cries. In the last section, I pay particular attention to the street cries of the marketplace in present-day Paris from recordings made in 2004 on the principal popular streetmarkets of Paris as I try to evaluate whether the Parisian vernacular has endured or whether it has completely disappeared.
Key-words : slang, français populaire, songs, films, 1930, corpus, sociolinguistics