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Béarnese dialect: Wikis


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Béarnese is a Gascon dialect spoken in Béarn (in the French department of the Pyrénées Atlantiques, in southwestern France). As a written language, it benefited from the fact that Béarn was an independent state from the mid 14th century up to 1620. Béarnese was used in legal and administrative documents long after most other Gascon (and/or Occitan) provinces were joined to France. Concerning literature and poems, the first important book was a Béarnese translation of the Psalms of David by Arnaud de Salette, at the end of the 16th century, contemporary with the Gascon (Armagnac dialect) translation of these Psalms by Pey de Garros. Both translations were ordered by Jeanne d'Albret, queen of Navarre and mother of Henry IV of France, to be used at Protestant churches.

Béarnese is currently the most prominent variety of Gascon. It is widely used in the normativization attempts to reach a standard Gascon and is bound to succeed mainly because of the Calandreta educative system but also due to the stronger cultural identity and output of this area.

A 1982 survey of the inhabitants of Béarn indicated that 51% of the population spoke Béarnese, 70% understood it, and 85% were in favor of preserving the language.[1]

Currently, the majority of the cultural associations consider Gascon (including Béarnese) an Occitan dialect. However, other authorities consider them to be distinct languages. The main proponent of this view is Jean Lafitte, who publishes Ligam-DiGam[2] a linguistic and lexicography review about gascon. A detailed sociolinguistic study presenting the current status (language practice and different locutors' perceptions) has been made by B. Moreux.



  • Molyneux R-G (2007). Grammar and Vocabulary of the language of Bearn. For Beginners (reissue ed.). Pyremonde/PrinciNegue. ISBN 978-2-84618-095-5.  
  • Moreux, B. (2004). Bearnais and Gascon today: language behavior and perception. The International Journal of the Sociology of Language,169:25-62.

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