Lowlands-L Anniversary Celebration

The Project

Language lists
Languages A–Z
Language Groups
Audio Files
Language information
Wish list

About Lowlands
Meet Lowlanders!
Project Team
Site map
Offline Resources
The Crypt
Language Tips
Members’ Links
Lowlands Shops
  · Canada
  · Deutschland
  · France
  · 日本 Japan
  · United Kingdom
  · United States
Recommended now!

What's new?

Please click here to leave an anniversary message (in any language you choose). You do not need to be a member of Lowlands-L to do so. In fact, we would be more than thrilled to receive messages from anyone.
Click here to read what others have written so far.

About the story
What’s with this “Wren” thing?
   The oldest extant version of the fable we are presenting here appeared in 1913 in the first volume of a two-volume anthology of Low Saxon folktales (Plattdeutsche Volksmärchen “Low German Folktales”) collected by Wilhelm Wisser (1843–1935). Read more ...


Lately, Occitan language assertion and calls for recognition as an official language of Occitania has been including public rallies and demonstrations.

Language information: Traditionally, the Occitan language has been known internationally as “Provençal,” in some quarters as “Limousin” (or “Lemousin”). These labels tended to include Catalan as well, at least Catalan dialects of France. Another name used is “Langue d’oc.” Nowadays, the preferred name is “Occitan,” derived form “Occitania” (Occitan Occitània) a revived name of the region in which Occitan is traditionally spoken. Provençal (Occitan provençau), Limousin and Languedocian (langue d’oc, Occitan lenga d’òc) are merely three of the main dialect groups of Occitan. The other groups are Auvergnat (Occitan auvernhat), Vivaro-Alpine (Occitan vivaroaupenc) and Gascon. Most of the Gascon dialects (in the western range of the language) have Basque substrata, because Gascony (Occitan Gasconha, French Gascogne, Basque Gaskoinia) used to be Basque-speaking, or the dominant language used to be closely related to Basque (which is a language isolate). On the northern edge of the Limousin and Auvergnat regions there is a crescent-shaped dialect area (called Croissent in French and Creissent in Occitan) that constitutes a transition to French, though the dialects seem to be fundamentally Occitan. The northern edge of the Vivaro-Alpine dialect area borders on the Arpitan language (also known as “Franco-Provençal” and “Romand”) which covers an Alpine region shared by France, Switzerland and Italy.
      Internationally, under the label “Provençal,” Occitan is mostly known for its great medieval literary tradition, especially for its lyrical poetry of the troubadour (Modern Occitan trobador).
Occitania and Its Dialects
      The number of true Occitan speakers is unknown due to the absence of authoritative statistics. Many people claim to be proficient in Occitan but are mostly just able to understand it. A fairly safe estimate is that between 1.5 and 2 million persons in France, Spain, Italy and Monaco are actual speakers of Occitan. The vast majority of Occitan speakers lives in Southern France. Outside France, Occitan is used in Spain’s Aran Valley (Val d’Aran, side by side with Catalan and Castilian), in the Occitan Valleys of Italy’s Piedmont and Liguria, and in Monaco coexisting with Ligurian under French dominance. In 2010, the government of Catalonia (in Spain) afforded language status to Aran Valley Occitan, the first time an Occitan variety has ever been officially recognized. Outside the old Occitan territory, there are Occitan-speaking enclaves of long standing in Guardia Piemontese in Southern Italy’s Calabria, in Germany’s Württemberg (descendants of Protestant refugees), in the United States of America (especially in North Carolina’s Valdese), in the Argentinian town of Pigüé, and in Canada’s province of Quebec.
      Occitan is an endangered language. This owes primarily to the fact that most of Occitania is a part of France (making up most of what is known as “Southern France”), and France, insisting on a particular interpretation of the national constitution, refuses to officially recognize within its jurisdiction any indigenous language other than French. This is particularly precarious for Occitan, since it is related to French. Traditional negative labels like patois have convinced many people in France, including most Occitanians, that Occitan is nothing but “debased French” and therefore not worth cherishing and saving. However, in recent years there has been a wave of Occitan linguistic and cultural reassertion, and this has engendered a fair amount of renewed Occitan language activity. This includes several specialized organizations, a good number of web pages, various types of books, and radio stations dedicated to Occitan. It further includes Occitan as a part of some school curricula, albeit officially as a foreign language in order not to cause state funding to be withheld. Meanwhile, university departments and dedicated associations (such as the Institut Occitan and the Conselh de la Lenga Occitana) do their part to increase awareness and appreciation of Occitan.
      The closest relative of Occitan is not French but Catalan-Valencian-Balear. Mutual comprehensibility between Occitan and Catalan is fair, especially in writing. It is better than mutual comprehensibility between either of them with French and Spanish (Castilian). Occitan may be seen as a link between the Gallo-Romance languages (to which for instance French and Walloon belong) and the Ibero-Romance languages (which includes for instance Castilian, Galician and Portuguese, and among which some count Catalan-Valencian-Balear). (Occitan and Catalan-Valencian-Balear together might be more appropriately assigned to a separate group situated between these two groups.)
      Many names associated with Southern France are Francized versions of Occitan names. For instance, “aïoli” (or “aioli”) comes from alhòli, “bouillabaisse” comes from bolhabaissa, and “ratatouille” comes from ratatolha. Below please find a selection of place names.

French Occitan   French Occitan
Aix-en-Provence Ais de Provença   Limoge Limòtges
Antibes Antíbol   Limousin Limosin
Auvergne Auvèrnha   Marseille Marselha
Avignon Avinhon   Montpellier Montpelhièr
Bordeaux Bordèu   Nice Niça
Bouches-du-Rhône Bocas de Ròse   Provence Provença
Camargue Camarga   Quercy Carsin
Cannes Canas   Roussillon Rosselhon
Côte d’Azur Còsta d’Azur   Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer Lei Santei Marias de la Mar
Gascogne Gasconha   Saint-Junien Sent Junian
Grasse Grassa   Toulon Tolon
Languedoc Lengadòc   Toulouse Tolosa


Genealogy: Indo-European > Romance > Italo-Western > Western > Gallo-Iberian > Gallo-Romance > Occitano-Romance

    Click to open the translation: [Click] Click here for different versions. >

Author: Reinhard F. Hahn

© 2011, Lowlands-L · ISSN 189-5582 · LCSN 96-4226 · All international rights reserved.
Lowlands-L Online Shops: Canada · Deutschland · France · 日本 · UK · USA