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 What about Marie Antoinette's voice? 
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Post What about Marie Antoinette's voice?
Does anyone know any records or sources anywhere describing it?
Just a curious random thought..


Sun May 22, 2011 10:02 am
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Post Re: What about Marie Antoinette's voice?
Corina wrote:
Does anyone know any records or sources anywhere describing it?
Just a curious random thought..


We may know it some day...

It is apparently possible to recreate a person's voice from a portrait. They did it for Mona Lisa

Here is an article about it :)

http://www.livescience.com/10506-mona-lisa-voice-simulated.html

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Wed Aug 10, 2011 8:08 pm
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Post Re: What about Marie Antoinette's voice?
Soft full voice, with a tinge of a German accent no doubt

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Thu Aug 11, 2011 8:50 am
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Post Re: What about Marie Antoinette's voice?
baron de batz wrote:
Soft full voice, with a tinge of a German accent no doubt

Hi, baron de batz! I just found a couple of notes in some Wikipedia articles about language in Austria. Do you suppose this might be what her dialect was?

The "Former Standard," used for about 300 years or more in speech in refined language, was the "Schönbrunner Deutsch", a sociolect spoken by the imperial Habsburg Family and the nobility of Austria-Hungary. It differs from other dialects in vocabulary and pronunciation: it appears to be spoken slightly nasally, and could be compared to the Queen's English. This was not a standard in a modern technical sense--it was the social standard of "upper class" speech. ("Austrian German." Wikipedia. 22 January 2013. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Austrian_German)

Besides the locational dialects of Old Vienna, there were also class-based dialects. For example, Schönnbrunnerdeutsch, or German as spoken by the courtiers and attendants of the Habsburg Imperial Court at Schönbrunn Royal Palace, had a manner of speech that had an affected bored inflection combined with overenunciation. The nasal tonality was akin to German spoken with a French accent. While far less used today, educated Viennese are still familiar with this court dialect. ("Viennese German." Wikipedia. 14 January 2013. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viennese_German)


Wed Jan 23, 2013 7:40 pm
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Post Re: What about Marie Antoinette's voice?
Could be...I realy have no idea! :)

I'm only pretty sure she wouldn't have have a strong local Viennese dialect, one I know well having lived there a while and being a Germanist. That dialect would have been more that of the common people.

And she left Austria at the age of 14 so maybe her accent was less affected by that fact as well. I'm not sure whether the current strong Austrian dialect was as as strong at that time. Its an interesting question. We also know that French was much less widely spoken at the Austrian court than for example at the Russian court, even if all future correspondence with her mother, brother and friends would be in that language.

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Thu Jan 24, 2013 10:01 am
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Post Re: What about Marie Antoinette's voice?
baron de batz wrote:
We also know that French was much less widely spoken at the Austrian court than for example at the Russian court, even if all future correspondence with her mother, brother and friends would be in that language.

Ahhh, so she wrote in the French language to her family--I've been wondering which language she used in writing to them! Thank you, baron de batz!


Thu Jan 24, 2013 2:53 pm
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Post Re: What about Marie Antoinette's voice?
The question of the dialect she spoke is a fascinating one, and I have wondered about it too. I am very much into languages and I am also a Germanist, so that question really did grasp my attention and interest.

I came to the concusion that Marie-Antoinette most probably did speak a Viennese dialect that was much different from the classical German we now learn in school. [warning everybody, this is my opinion]

My conclusion is based mainly on the biography of her brother Joseph II by Francois Fetjö. The author mentions that Joseph spoke this dialect as a child and had to be taught how to speak and write "proper German".

This to me explained a contradiction I had never understood. Indeed, in her biography of the Queen, Bertière mentioned that not only was Marie-Antoinette's French very poor (when she was an archduchess), but she was hardly able to speak German. How could that possibly be, seeing as German was her mother tongue ? The conclusion I came to is that Marie-Antoinette's actual "mother tongue" may have been Viennese dialect, rather than pure German.

This would also explain why she seemed to have forgotten German so quickly after her arrival to France. She made out on several occasion that she lost the ability to speak it fluently, and Mercy confirmed in one letter at her German had become deeply flawed. This could be exaggerations aimed at emphasising her attachment to France. But if one considers that her native language was in fact that particular dialect, it does make sense that she forgot classical German quickly.

One last thing. In most European countries, languages were stricly codified and unified only at the end of the XIX century. This is especially true with respect to German and Italian, seeing as there were no unified countries as such before the XIX century, let alone common languages. Even now, "hochdeutsch" is considered the gold standard of German, but it was and still is fact spoken only in the North of Germany (Hamburg and the hanseatic region).

So even today, the huge majority of German speakers have to learn classical German rather than they actually speak it. Then it is no wonder Marie-Antoinette, who was born in Vienna, did not speak German as a native language. I would even venture to say that the dialect she spoke as a child was much different from pure German, since as far as I know, Austria tends to be closer to Switzerland in terms of accent and speaking -and Swiss German is ununderstandable to this day.

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Last edited by Ludy on Sun Jan 27, 2013 6:40 pm, edited 6 times in total.



Sun Jan 27, 2013 6:03 pm
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Post Re: What about Marie Antoinette's voice?
baron de batz wrote:
Could be...I realy have no idea! :)


We also know that French was much less widely spoken at the Austrian court than for example at the Russian court


I do not think that is quite accurate.

With respect to Russia, the languages usually learnt at the Russian court up until the XVIII century were Polish, Latin and German among others. Tsar Peter the Great was in fact unable to speak French : he only learnt Dutch. French became a widely spoken language in Russia only because it was hoped that Tsarina Elisabeth, Peter's daughter, would marry Louis XV (this never happened as we know : Polish Maria Leczinska was chosen ), so that was already by the midst XVIII century only. Subsequently, Catherine the Great reinforced that trend, seeing as her French was flawless, probably way better than her Russian. So ittook a while for French to become prevalent in Russia, and one might even say that Russia was catching up with the rest of Europe. Therefore I do not think Russia was more affected by the prevalence of French than any other European country.

I think all European courts and elites were, at that time, on an equal footing with respect to French, which was the only international language. French was the international language and as such was widely used everywhere in Europe. I think that by and large, elites often are much of a muchness in terms of knowledge and education in any country, and French truly was, and, to a certain extent, still is, an elitarian language.

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Sun Jan 27, 2013 6:13 pm
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Post Re: What about Marie Antoinette's voice?
Ludy wote:

With respect to Russia, the languages usually learnt at the Russian court up until the XVIII century were Polish, Latin and German among others


Well of course I agree it does rather depend on what period one looks at. When one reads "War and Peace" for example one sees that many of the ruling classes had to take Russian language courses to brush up on their Russian so as not to appear unpatriotic, so used were they to speaking French up to the time of the Napoleonic invasion! :) I was really talking about the 18th century onwards, as this is the period we cover most here. That coincides with the increasing Westernisation of the Russian aristocracy that Peter the Great (despite his slim grasp of the French language) encouraged with his founding of St Petersburg and the centralisation of sovereign power in that city.

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Mon Jan 28, 2013 10:39 am
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Post Re: What about Marie Antoinette's voice?
I'm sorry to nitpick here Ludy but perhaps I wasn't sufficiently clear about MA's dialect. I didn't mean that she spoke "Hochdeutsch" or high german in Vienna, no Austrians do amongst themselves. I just meant that she probably didn't speak with a heavy Viennese dialect, which would be like the Queen of England speaking cockney! All Austrians speak Austrian dialect which varies quite extraordinarily from region to region, for such a small country. I know this subject very well, and can still tell those regional dialects apart. Viennese is quite distinctive and is like listening to a Liverpublian speaking scouse (the Beatles for example). Its' a city accent.

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Mon Jan 28, 2013 10:47 am
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Post Re: What about Marie Antoinette's voice?
I think that for the sake of clarity and to keep our discussions here interesting, posts should be read beyond their first lines before being answered. The content of the post you quoted was that French was no more prevalent in Russia than elsewhere in Europe. Unfortunately the way you quoted it made no sense whatsoever and as a result your answer bears little relevance. Try to keep that in mind next time or else address the poster if you think his/her post is unclear.

Having said that, you are correct : it did happen that nobles spoke French better than Russian. That was the case for instance with Vorontsov, who was the governor of Paris after Napoleon's downfall. But that brings us to a period that is not the XVIII century but the XIX century. Secondly I think that fashion concerned all the European aristocracy and I do not think that was the case only with the Russian nobles.

War and Peace unfolds by the time of Napoleon (XIX century) and was written by Tolstoi, a XIX century writer. But yes, I agree, a lot of it was written in French, as Tolstoi did speak French very well, as numerous XIX century writers for that matter.

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Tue Jan 29, 2013 3:08 am
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Post Re: What about Marie Antoinette's voice?
Thank you, Ludy and Baron de Batz! I didn't mean to cause an argument, but nevertheless you have both provided some excellent information!


Fri Feb 08, 2013 11:11 pm
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