Occitan language: Wikis

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Occitan
Occitan, Lenga d'òc
Spoken in France
Spain
Italy
Monaco
Total speakers 1,000,000-3,700,000[1]
Language family Indo-European
Official status
Official language in Officially recognised in Catalonia, Spain,

(known as Aranese in Aran Valley).

Regulated by Occitan Academy in progress
Language codes
ISO 639-1 oc
ISO 639-2 oci
ISO 639-3 oci

Occitan (pronounced /ˈɒksɨtən/)[2], known also as Lenga d'òc in Occitan or Langue d'oc in French (native name: occitan /utsiˈta/,[3] lenga d'òc [ˈleŋɡɔˈðɔ(k)];[4] native nickname: la lenga nòstra i.e. "our [own] language") is a Romance language spoken in Occitania, that is, Southern France, the Occitan Valleys of Italy, Monaco and in the Aran Valley of Spain. It is also spoken in the linguistic enclave of Guardia Piemontese (Calabria, Italy). It is a co-official language in Catalonia, Spain (known as Aranese in Aran Valley).[5] Modern Occitan is the closest relative of Catalan.[6] The languages, as spoken in early medieval times, might be considered variant forms of the same language. The term Provençal is often used to refer to Occitan.[7]

The area where Occitan was historically dominant is home to some 14 million inhabitants. It may be spoken as a first language by as many as 1.5 million people[8] in France, Italy, Spain and Monaco. In Monaco Occitan coexists with Monégasque Ligurian which is the other native language.[9] Some researchers state that up to seven million people in France understand the language.

Contents

Name

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History of the modern term

Occitania, the territory of the Occitan language

The name Occitan comes from lenga d'òc (i.e. òc language), which comes from òc, the Occitan word for yes. The Italian medieval poet Dante was the first to have recorded the term lingua d'oc. In his De vulgari eloquentia he wrote in Latin: "nam alii oc, alii si, alii vero dicunt oil" ("some say òc, others say , others say oïl"), thereby highlighting three major Romance literary languages which were well known in Italy, based on each language's word for "yes", the òc language (Occitan), the oïl language (French), and the sì language (various Italian and Iberian languages). This was not, of course, the only defining character of each group.

The word òc came from Vulgar Latin hoc ("this"), while oïl originated from Latin hoc illud ("this [is] it"). Old Catalan and nowadays the Catalan of Northern Catalonia (France, Catalunya Nord) also have hoc (òc) too. Other Romance languages derive their word for yes from the Latin sic, "thus [it is], [it was done], etc.", such as Spanish , Western Lombard , Italian , or Portuguese sim. In Modern Catalan, as in modern Spanish, is usually used as a response, although the language retains the word oi, akin to òc, which is sometimes used at the end of Yes-no questions and in higher register also as a positive response.[10]

The name "Occitan" is sometimes considered a neologism, however it was attested around 1300 as "occitanus", a crossing of oc and aquitanus (Aquitanian).[11]

Other names for Occitan

For many centuries, the Occitan dialects (together with Catalan[12]) were referred to as Lemosin or Provençal, the names of two regions lying within modern "Occitania". After Mistral's Félibrige movement in the 19th century, Provençal achieved the greatest literary recognition and so became the most popular term for the Occitan language.

Nowadays, linguists use the terms Provençal and Lemosin strictly to refer to specific varieties within Occitania, whereas Occitan is used for the language as a whole. Many non-specialists, however, continue to refer to the language as Provençal, causing some confusion.

History

Occitan was the vehicle for the influential poetry of the medieval troubadours. With the gradual imposition of French royal power over its territory, Occitan declined in status from the 14th century on. By the Edict of Villers-Cotterets (1539) it was decreed that the langue d'oïl (Northern French) should be used for all French administration. Occitan's greatest decline was during the French Revolution, during which diversity of language was considered a threat. The literary renaissance of late 19th century (which included a Nobel Prize for Frédéric Mistral) was attenuated by the First World War, where Occitan speakers spent extended periods of time alongside French-speaking comrades.

Origins

Because Occitan is surrounded by other Romance languages, external influences could have impeded its origin and development, making it only a tributary of standard Latin. However, many factors favoured its development as a language of its own.

  • Mountains and seas: The range of Occitan is bounded naturally by the Mediterranean, the Atlantic Ocean, the Massif Central, the Pyrenees, and the Alps.
  • Buffer zones: Very dry land, marshes, and areas otherwise impractical for farming and resistant of colonization provide further separation (territory between Loire and Garonne, the Aragon desert plateau).
  • Constant populations: Some Occitan-speaking peoples are descended from people living in the region since prehistory (Bec, 1963).
  • Little Celtic influence (Bec, 1963)
  • Ancient and long-term Roman influence: Julius Caesar once said that the people of Aquitaine could teach the Romans themselves to speak Latin more correctly. According to Müller, "France's linguistic separation began with Roman influence" (Bec, 1963, pp. 20, 21)
  • A separate lexicon: Although Occitan is mid-way between Gallo-Romance and Ibero-Romance language groups, it has "around 550 words inherited from Latin that do not exist in the langue d'oïl or in franco-provençal" (Bec, 1963, 20, 21).
  • Little germanization: "The Frankish lexicon and its phonetic influence often end above the oc/oïl line" (Bec, 1963, 20, 21)

Occitan in Spain

Occitan is closely related to Catalan with which it shares many linguistic features and even a common origin. The language was one of the first to gain prestige as a medium for literature among Romance languages in the Middle Ages. At the end of the 11th century, Franks, as they were called at the time, started to penetrate in the Iberian Peninsula through the Ways of St. James via Somport and Roncesvaux, settling on various spots of the Kingdoms of Navarre and Aragon enticed by the privileges granted on them by the Navarrese kings. They established themselves in ethnic boroughs where Occitan was used for everyday life, e.g. Pamplona, Sangüesa, Estella, etc. The language in turn became the status language chosen by the Navarrese kings, nobility and upper classes for official and trade purposes in the period stretching from mid 11th century to late 14th century. These boroughs in Navarre may have been close-knit communities with little mingling, in a context where the natural milieu was predominantly Basque-speaking. The variant chosen for written records was a koiné based on Languedocien from Toulouse with fairly archaic linguistic features. Some literature was even developed in Navarre (History of the War of Navarre by Guilhem Anelier, 1276).

Things turned out slightly otherwise in Aragon, where the sociolinguistic situation was different, with a clearer Basque-Romance bilingual situation (cf. Basques from the Val d'Aran cited circa 1000),[13] but a receding Basque language (Basque banned in the marketplace of Huesca, 1349).[14][15] While the language was chosen as a medium of prestige in records and official statements along with Latin in the 11th century, Occitan faced competition from the rising local Romance vernacular, the Navarro-Aragonese, both orally and in writing, especially after Aragon's territorial conquers south to Zaragoza, Huesca and Tudela between 1118 and 1134. It resulted that a second Occitan inmigration of this period was assimilated by the similar Navarro-Aragonese language, which at the same time was fostered and chosen by the kings of Aragon. The language fell into decay in the 14th century across the whole southern Pyrenean area and became largely absorbed into Navarro-Aragonese first and Castilian later in the 15th century, after their exclusive boroughs broke up (1423, Pamplona's boroughs unified).

Gascon-speaking communities were called in for trading purposes by Navarrese kings in the early 12th century to the coastal fringe extending from Donostia to the Bidassoa, where they settled down. The language variant used was different from the ones used in Navarre, i.e. a Bearnèse Gascon, with Gascon being in use far longer than in Navarre and Aragon till the 19th century, thanks mainly to the close ties held by Donostia and Pasaia with Bayonne.

Occitan around the world

Usage in France

This bilingual street sign in Tolosa (Toulouse), like many such signs found in historical parts of the city, is maintained primarily for its antique charm; it is typical of what little remains of the lenga d'òc in southern French cities.

Though it was still an everyday language for most of the rural population of southern France well into the 20th century, it has been all but replaced by the systematic imposition of the French language. According to the 1999 census, there are 610,000 native speakers (almost all of whom are also native French speakers) and perhaps another million persons with some exposure to the language. Following the pattern of language shift, most of this remainder is to be found among the eldest populations. Occitan activists (called Occitanists) have attempted, particularly with the advent of Occitan-language preschools (the Calandretas), to reintroduce the language to the young. Nonetheless, the number of proficient speakers of Occitan appears to be dropping precipitously. A tourist in the cities in southern France is unlikely to hear a single Occitan word spoken on the street (or for that matter, in a home), and will likely only find the occasional vestige, such as street signs (and of those, most will have French equivalents more prominently displayed), to remind them of the traditional language of the area. Occitans, as a result of more than 200 years of conditioned suppression and humiliation (see Vergonha), seldom speak their own language in the presence of foreigners, whether they're from abroad or from outside Occitania (in this case, often merely and abusively referred to as Parisiens or Nordistes, which means northerners). Occitan is still spoken by many elderly people in rural areas, but they generally switch to French when dealing with outsiders.

Usage outside France

  • In the Aran Valley in the north-west corner of Catalonia, Spain, Aranese (a variety of Gascon, in turn a variety of Occitan) is spoken. It is an official language of Catalonia together with Catalan and Spanish.
  • In Italy, Occitan is also spoken in the Occitan Valleys (Alps) in Piedmont and Liguria. An Occitan-speaking enclave also has existed at Guardia Piemontese (Calabria) since the 14th century. Italy adopted in 1999 a Linguistic Minorities Protection Law, or "Law 482", which includes Occitan; however, Italian is the dominant language. It should be noted that the Piedmontese dialect is extremely close to Occitan.
  • In Monaco, some Occitan speakers coexist with remaining native Monegasque (Ligurian) speakers. French is the dominant language.
  • Scattered Occitan-speaking communities exist in different countries:
    • There were Occitan-speaking colonies in Württemberg (Germany) since the 18th century, the latter as a consequence of the Camisard war. The last Occitan speakers were heard in the 1930s.
    • In the Spanish Basque country, Gascon was spoken in the center of Donostia/San Sebastián, perhaps until the beginning of the 20th century.[citation needed]
    • In the Americas, Occitan speakers exist:
      • in the United States, in Valdese, North Carolina[16]
      • in Canada, in Quebec where there are Occitan associations such as Association Occitane du Québec and Association des Occitans.[17]

Traditionally Occitan-speaking areas

  • Aquitaine — excluding the Basque-speaking part of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques in the western part of the department and a small part of Gironde where Saintongeais is spoken. The towns of Biarritz, Anglet, and Bayonne are originally Occitan-speaking, with Basque-speaking groups, but their Basque populations grew sharply during the industrial revolution.
  • Midi-Pyrénées — including one of France's largest cities, Toulouse. There are a few street signs in Toulouse in Occitan, and since late 2009 the Metro announcements are bilingual French-Occitan,[18] but otherwise the language is almost never heard spoken on the street.
  • Languedoc-Roussillon (from "Lenga d'òc") — including the areas around the medieval city of Carcassonne, excluding the large part of the Pyrénées-Orientales where Catalan is spoken (Fenolhedés is the only Occitan-speaking area of the Pyrénées-Orientales).
  • Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur — except for the Roya and Bévéra valleys, where there is a transitional dialect between Ligurian and Occitan, (Roiasc, including Brigasc). There were former and now extinct isolated towns that spoke Ligurian in the Alpes-Maritimes département. Mentonasque, that is spoken in Menton, is an Occitan transition dialect with a strong Ligurian influence.
  • In Monaco, Occitan coexists with Ligurian Monegasque. French is the dominant (and imposed) language.
  • Poitou-Charentes — Use of Occitan has declined here in the few parts it used to be spoken, replaced by French. Only Charente limousine, the eastern part of the region, has resisted. But moreover the natural & historical languages of most of the region are the Poitevin and Saintongeais.
  • Limousin — A rural region (about 710,000 inhabitants) where Occitan (Lemosin dialect, Nord-Occitan family) is still spoken among the oldest residents.
  • Auvergne — The language's use has declined in some urban areas. The departement of Allier is divided between a southern Occitan-speaking area and a northern French-speaking area.
  • Centre region — Some villages, in the extreme South, speak Occitan.
  • Rhône-Alpes — While the south of the region is clearly Occitan-speaking, the central and northern Lyonnais, Forez and Dauphiné parts belong to the Franco-Provençal language area.
  • Occitan Valleys (Piedmont, Liguria) — Italian regions where Occitan is spoken only in the southern and central Alpine valleys.
  • Val d'Aran — part of Catalonia that speaks a mountain dialect of Gascon Occitan.

Dialects

Dialectal classification

According to linguist Pèire Bèc (Pierre Bec), in Manuel pratique d'occitan moderne (Paris, Picard, 1973), here is the most widely accepted dialectal classification.

Supradialectal classification

Pèire Bèc says that another "supradialectal" classification is possible, that follows different criteria:

  • Arvèrnomediterranèu
  • Central Occitan (Occitan central), i. e. the Lengadocian dialect, excepting the Southern Lengadocian subdialect
  • Aquitanopirenenc
    • Southern Lengadocian subdialect
    • Gascon
    • The Catalan language is an Ausbau language which became independent from Occitan during the 13th century. But it comes from the Aquitanopirenenc stem.[citation needed]

Codification

Standardisation

All these regional varieties of the Occitan language are written and valid. Standard Occitan, also called Occitan larg (i.e. "wide Occitan") is a synthesis which respects and admits soft regional adaptations (which are based on the convergence of previous regional koines). So Occitan can be considered as a pluricentric language.[19] The standardization process began during the 1970s with the works of Pèire Bèc, Robèrt Lafont, Rogièr Teulat, Jacme Taupiac and Patric Sauzet. But it has not been achieved yet. It is mostly supported by users of the classical norm. Due to the strong situation of diglossia, some users still reject the standardization process and don't conceive Occitan as a language which could work just as other standardized languages.

Writing system

There are two main linguistic norms currently used for Occitan, one (known as classical) which is based on that of Mediaeval Occitan, and one (sometimes known as Mistralian, due to its use by Frédéric Mistral) which is based on modern French orthography. Sometimes, there is some conflict between some users of each system.

  • The classical norm (or less exactly classical orthography) has the advantage of maintaining a link with earlier stages of the language, and reflects the fact that Occitan is not a variety of French. It is used in all Occitan dialects. It also allows speakers of one dialect of Occitan to write intelligibly for speakers of other dialects (e.g. the Occitan for day is written jorn in the classical norm, but could be jour, joun or journ, depending on the writer's origin, in Mistralian orthography). The Occitan classical orthography and the Catalan orthography are quite similar: they show the very close ties of both languages. The digraphs lh and nh, used in the classical orthography, were adopted by the Orthography of Portuguese, most probably after Friar Gerald, a monk from Moissac, became bishop of Braga in Portugal in 1047 and played a major role in modernizing written Portuguese using classical Occitan norms.[20]
  • The Mistralian norm (or less exactly Mistralian orthography) has the advantage of not forcing Occitan speakers who are already (as is usually the case) literate in French to learn an entirely new system. Nowadays it is mostly used in the Provençal/Niçois dialect, besides the classical norm. It has also been used by a number of eminent writers, particularly in Provençal. However, it is somewhat impractical, since it is based mainly on the Provençal dialect and also uses many digraphs for simple sounds, most notably ou for the [u] sound, written as o under the classical orthography.

There are also two other norms but they have a lesser audience. The Escòla dau Pò norm (or Escolo dóu Po norm) is a simplified version of the Mistralian norm and is only used in the Occitan Valleys (Italy), besides the classical norm. The Bonnaudian norm (or écriture auvergnate unifiée, EAU) was created by Pierre Bonnaud and is used only in the Auvergnat dialect, besides the classical norm.

Comparison between the four existing norms in Occitan: extract from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
classical norm Mistralian norm Bonnaudian norm Escòla dau Pò norm
Provençal
Totei lei personas naisson liuras e egalas en dignitat e en drech. Son dotadas de rason e de consciéncia e li cau (/fau) agir entre elei amb un esperit de frairesa.
Provençal
Tóuti li persouno naisson liéuro e egalo en dignita e en dre. Soun doutado de rasoun e de counsciènci e li fau agi entre éli em' un esperit de freiresso.
Niçard Provençal
Toti li personas naisson liuri e egali en dignitat e en drech. Son dotadi de rason e de consciéncia e li cau agir entre eli emb un esperit de frairesa.
Niçard Provençal
Touti li persouna naisson liéuri e egali en dignità e en drech. Soun doutadi de rasoun e de counsciència e li cau agì entre eli em' un esperit de frairessa.
Auvernhat
Totas las personas naisson liuras e egalas en dignitat e en dreit. Son dotadas de rason e de consciéncia e lor chau (/fau) agir entre elas amb un esperit de frairesa.
Auvernhat
Ta la proussouna neisson lieura moé parira pà dïnessà mai dret. Son charjada de razou moé de cousiensà mai lhu fau arjî entremeî lha bei n'eime de freiressà. (Touta la persouna naisson lieura e egala en dïnetàt e en dreit. Soun doutada de razou e de cousiensà e lour chau ajî entre ela am en esprî de freiressà.)
Vivaroalpenc
Totas las personas naisson liuras e egalas en dignitat e en drech. Son dotaas de rason e de consciéncia e lor chal agir entre elas amb un esperit de fraternitat.
Vivaroalpenc
Toutes les persounes naisoun liures e egales en dignità e en drech. Soun douta de razoun e de counsiensio e lour chal agir entre eles amb (/bou) un esperit de freireso.
Gascon
Totas las personas que naishen liuras e egaus en dignitat e en dreit. Que son dotadas de rason e de consciéncia e que'us cau agir enter eras dab un esperit de hrairessa.
Gascon (Febusian writing)
Toutes las persounes que nachen libres e egaus en dinnitat e en dreyt. Que soun doutades de rasoû e de counscienci e qu'ous cau ayi entre eres dap û esperit de hrayresse.
Lemosin
Totas las personas naisson liuras e egalas en dignitat e en drech. Son dotadas de rason e de consciéncia e lor chau (/fau) agir entre elas emb un esperit de frairesa.
Lengadocian
Totas las personas naisson liuras e egalas en dignitat e en drech. Son dotadas de rason e de consciéncia e lor cal agir entre elas amb un esperit de frairesa.
The same extract in four neighboring Romance languages and English for comparison
Catalan
Tots els éssers humans neixen lliures i iguals en dignitat i en drets. Són dotats de raó i de consciència, i han de comportar-se fraternalment els uns amb els altres.[21]
Arpetan
Tôs los étres homans nêssont libros et ègals en dignitât et en drêts. Ils ant rêson et conscience et dêvont fâre los uns envèrs los ôtros dedens un èsprit de fraternitât.[21]
French
Tous les êtres humains naissent libres et égaux en dignité et en droits. Ils sont doués de raison et de conscience et doivent agir les uns envers les autres dans un esprit de fraternité.[21]
Spanish
Todos los seres humanos nacen libres e iguales en dignidad y derechos y, dotados como están de razón y conciencia, deben comportarse fraternalmente los unos con los otros.[21]
English
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.[22]

Debates concerning linguistic classification and orthography

The majority of scholars believe that Occitan constitutes a single language.[23] Some authors,[24] constituting a tiny minority,[25] reject this opinion and even the name Occitan: they think that there is a family of distinct languages (called langues d'oc / lengas d'oc in plural) rather than dialects.

Many Occitan linguists and writers[26], particularly those involved with the pan-Occitan movement centred on the Institut d'Estudis Occitans, disagree with the view that Occitan is a family of languages and think that Limousin, Auvergnat, Languedocien, Gascon, Provençal and Alpine Provençal are dialects of a single language. Though there are some noticeable differences between these varieties, there is a very high degree of mutual intelligibility between them [27]; they also share a common literary history, and in academic and literary circles, have been identified as a collective linguistic entity—the langue d'oc—for centuries.

Some Provençal authors [28] continue to support the view that Provençal is a separate language. Nevertheless, the vast majority of Provençal authors and associations think that Provençal is a part of Occitan.[29]

This debate about the status of Provençal should not be confused with the debate concerning the spelling of Provençal.

  • The classical orthography is more phonemic and diasystematic, and so more pan-Occitan. It is used in (and adapted to) all Occitan dialects and regions, including Provençal. Its supporters think that Provençal is a part of Occitan.
  • The Mistralian orthography of Provençal is more or less phonemic but not diasystematic and is closer to the French spelling, and therefore more specific to Provençal; its users are divided between the ones who think that Provençal is a part of Occitan and the ones who think that Provençal is a separate language.

For example, the classical (pan-Occitan) spelling writes Polonha where the Mistralian spelling system has Poulougno, for [puˈluɲo], 'Poland'.

The question of Gascon is a little similar. Gascon presents a number of significant differences from the rest of the language; but despite these differences, Gascon and other Occitan dialects share a very important common lexical and grammatical material, so authors such as Pierre Bec argue that they could never be considered as different as, for example, Spanish and Italian.[30] In addition, the fact that Gascon is included within Occitan despite its particular differences, can be also justified [31] because there is a common elaboration (Ausbau) process between Gascon and the rest of Occitan. The vast majority of the Gascon cultural movement [32][33][34] considers itself as a part of the Occitan cultural movement. And the official status of Val d'Aran (Catalonia, Spain), adopted in 1990, says that Aranese is a part of Gascon and Occitan. A grammar of Aranese by Aitor Carrera, published in 2007 in Lleida, presents the same view.

The exclusion of Catalan from the Occitan sphere, although Catalan is a language closely related to Occitan, is justified because there has been a consciousness of its being different from Occitan since the later Middle Ages and the elaboration (Ausbau) processes of Catalan and Occitan (including Gascon) have been quite distinct since the 20th century. Nevertheless, some other scholars[35] point that the process which lead to the affirmation of Catalan as a distinct language from Occitan was started during the period when the pressure to include Catalan-speaking areas to a mainstream Spanish culture was at its most.

Linguistic characterisation

Jules Ronjat has sought to characterize Occitan by 19 principal criteria, as generalized as possible. Of those, 11 are phonetic, five morphologic, one syntactic, and two lexical. Close rounded vowels (French: rose, yeux) are rare or absent in Occitan. This characteristic often carries through to an Occitan speaker's French, leading to a distinctive méridional accent. Unlike French, it is a pro-drop language allowing the omission of the subject (canti: I sing; cantas you sing). Among these 19 discriminating criteria, 7 are different from Spanish, 8 from Italian, 12 from Franco-provençal, and 16 from French.

Features of Occitan

Among the diachronic features of Occitan as a Romance language:

  • Stressed Latin a was preserved (Lat. mare > Oc. mar).
  • Latin ū (Vulgar Latin [u]) changed to [y], as in French (Lat. dūru > Oc. dur).
  • Vulgar Latin [o] changed to [u], first in unstressed syllables, as in Catalan (Lat. romānu > Oc. roman), then in stressed syllables (Lat. flōrem > Oc. flor).
  • In Gascon, Latin initial [f] changed into [h] (Latin filiu > Gasc. hilh), as it did in medieval Spanish. The Gascon "h" has retained its aspiration.
  • Other lenition and palatalisation phenomena shared with the rest of the Western Romance languages, especially with Catalan

Comparison with other Romance languages

Common words in Romance languages, with English (a Germanic language) for reference
Latin Occitan
(including main regional varieties)
Catalan French Ladin (Nones) Lombard Italian Spanish Portuguese Sardinian Romanian English
cantare cantar (chantar) cantar chanter ciantar cantà cantare cantar cantar cantare cânta (to) sing
capra(m) cabra (chabra, craba) cabra chèvre ciaura cavra capra cabra cabra craba capră goat
clave(m) clau clau clef/clé clau ciau chiave llave chave crae cheie key
ecclesia(m), basilica(m) glèisa església église glesia cesa chiesa iglesia igreja/basílica gresia biserică church
formaticu(m) (Vulgar Latin), caseu(m) formatge (hormatge) formatge fromage formai furmai formaggio/cacio queso queijo casu caş cheese
lingua(m) lenga (lengua) llengua langue lenga lengua lingua lengua língua limba limbă tongue; language
nocte(m) nuèch (nuèit) nit nuit not noch notte noche noite nothe noapte night
platea(m) plaça plaça place plaza piasa piazza/platèa plaza praça/platéia pratza piaţă[36] square/plaza
ponte(m) pont (pònt) pont pont pònt punt ponte puente ponte ponte punte bridge

Rich lexicon

A comparison of terms and word counts between languages is not easy, as it is impossible to precisely count the number of words in a language. (See Lexicon, Lexeme, Lexicography for more information.)

Some have claimed around 450,000 words exist in the Occitan language,[37] a number comparable to English (The Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged with 1993 addenda reaches 470,000 words, as does the Oxford English Dictionary, Second edition.) The Merriam-Webster Web site estimates that the number is somewhere between 250,000 and 1 million words.

The magazine Géo (2004, p. 79) claims that American English literature can be more easily translated into Occitan than French, excluding modern technological terms that both languages have integrated.

A comparison of the lexical content can find more subtle differences between the languages. For example, Occitan has 128 synonyms related to cultivated land, 62 for wetlands, and 75 for sunshine (Géo). The language went through an eclipse during the Industrial Revolution, as the vocabulary of the countryside became less important. At the same time, it was disparaged as a patois. Nevertheless, Occitan has also incorporated new words into its lexicon to describe the modern world. The Occitan word for web is oèb, for example.

Differences between Occitan and Catalan

The separation of Catalan from Occitan is seen by some[citation needed] as largely politically (rather than linguistically) motivated. However, the variety that has become standard Catalan does differ from that which has become standard Occitan in a number of ways. The following are just a few examples:

  • Phonology
    • (Standard) Catalan is unique in that Latin short e developed into a close vowel /e/ (é) and Latin long e developed into an open vowel /ɛ/ (è); this is precisely the reverse of the development that took place in the other Catalan dialects, and the rest of the Romance languages, including Occitan. Thus Standard Catalan ésser [ˈesə] corresponds to Occitan èsser/èstre [ˈɛse/ˈɛstre] 'to be;' Catalan carrer [kəˈre] corresponds to Occitan carrièra [karˈjɛɾo̞] 'street.'
    • The distinctly Occitan development of word-final -a, pronounced [o̞] in standard Occitan (e.g. chifra 'figure' [ˈtʃifro̞]), did not occur in general Catalan (which has xifra [ˈʃifrə]). However, some Occitan varieties also lack this feature and some Catalan (Valencian) varieties have the [ɔ] pronunciation mostly happening during a vowel harmony process.
    • When in Catalan word stress falls in the antepenultimate syllable, in Occitan the stress is moved to the penultimate syllable: for example, Occitan pagina [paˈdʒino̞] vs. Catalan pàgina [ˈpaʒinə], "page". However, some varieties of Occitan (e.g., around Nice) keep the stress on the antepenultimate syllable (pàgina) while some varieties of Catalan (in Northern Catalonia) keep the stress on the penultimate syllable (pagina).
    • Diphthongisation has evolved in different ways, e.g. Occitan paire vs. Catalan pare 'father;' Occitan carrièra (carrèra, carrèira) vs. Catalan carrera.
    • Some Occitan dialects lack the voiceless postalveolar fricative phoneme /ʃ/ but south-western Occitan presents it, e.g. general Occitan caissa [ˈkajso̞] vs. Catalan caixa [ˈkaʃə] and south-western Occitan caissa, caisha [ˈka(j)ʃo̞], 'box.'
    • Occitan has developed the close front rounded vowel /y/ as a phoneme, often (but not always) corresponding to Catalan /u/, e.g. Occitan musica [myˈziko̞] vs. Catalan música [ˈmuzikə].
    • The distribution of palatal consonants /ʎ/ and /ɲ/ differs in Catalan and a part of Occitan: while Catalan permits these sounds in word-final position, in central Occitan they are neutralised to [l] and [n] (e.g. central Occitan filh [fil] vs. Catalan fill [fiʎ], 'son'). Non-central varieties of Occitan, however, can have a palatal realisation (e.g. filh, hilh [fiʎ, fij, hiʎ]).
    • Also, many words that start with /l/ in Occitan start with /ʎ/ in Catalan, e.g. Occitan libre [ˈlibre] vs. Catalan llibre [ˈʎibrə], 'book.' This is perhaps one of the most distinctive characteristics of Catalan amongst the Romance languages. However, some transitional varieties of Occitan, near to the Catalan area, also have initial /ʎ/.
    • Standard Eastern Catalan has a neutral vowel [ə] whenever a or e occur in unstressed position (e.g. passar [pəˈsa], 'to happen,' but passa [ˈpasə], 'it happens'), and also [u] whenever o or u occur in unstressed position, e.g. voler [buˈlɛ], 'to want,' but vol [ˈbɔl], 'he wants.' However, this does not apply to Western Catalan dialects, whose vowel system usually retains the a/e distinction in unstressed position, nor to Northern Catalan dialects, whose vowel system does not retain the o/u distinction in stressed position, much like Occitan.
  • Morphology
    • Verb conjugation is slightly different, although there is a great variety amongst dialects. Medieval conjugations were much closer.
    • Occitan tends to add an analogical -a to the feminine forms of adjectives which are invariable in standard Catalan: for example, Occitan legal / legala vs. Catalan legal / legal.
    • Catalan has a distinctive past tense formation, known as the 'periphrastic preterite,' formed from a variant of the verb 'to go' plus the infinitive of the verb: donar 'to give,' va donar 'he gave.' This has the same value as the 'normal' preterite shared by most Romance languages, deriving from the Latin perfect tense: in Catalan, donà 'he gave.' The periphrastic preterite only exists in Occitan as an archaic or as a very local tense.
  • Orthography
    • The writing systems of the two languages differ slightly. The modern Occitan spelling recommended by the Institut d'Estudis Occitans and the Conselh de la Lenga Occitana is designed to be a pan-Occitan system, whereas the Catalan system recommended by the Institut d'Estudis Catalans is specific to Catalan. For example, in Catalan, word-final -n is omitted, as this is not pronounced in any dialect of Catalan (so we have Català, Occità); central Occitan also drops word-final -n, but it is retained in the spelling, as some eastern and western dialects of Occitan do retain the final consonant (so we have Catalan, Occitan). Some digraphs are also written in a different way such as the sound /ʎ/ which is –ll– in Catalan (similar to Spanish) and –lh– in Occitan (similar to Portuguese) or the sound /ɲ/ written –ny– in Catalan and –nh– in Occitan.

Occitano-Romance linguistic group

Despite these differences, Occitan and Catalan remain more or less mutually comprehensible, especially when written — more so than either is with Spanish or French, for example. Occitan and Catalan form a common diasystem (or a common Abstandsprache) which is called Occitano-Romance, according to the linguist Pèire Bèc.[38] Speakers of both languages share early historical, cultural, and amicable heritage.

The combined Occitano-Romance area is 259,000 km² and represents 23 million speakers. However, the regions are not equal in terms of language speakers. According to Bec 1969 (pp. 120–121), in France, no more than a quarter of the population in counted regions speak Occitan well, though around half can understand it; it is thought that the number of Occitan users has decreased dramatically since then. By contrast, in the Spanish Catalonia, nearly three quarters of the population speak Catalan and 95% understand it.[39]

Occitan quotes

According to the testimony of Bernadette Soubirous, the Virgin Mary spoke to her (Lourdes, 25 March 1858) in Gascon saying: Que sòi era Immaculada Concepcion ("I am the Immaculate Conception", the phrase is reproduced under this statue in the Lourdes grotto with a non-standard spelling), confirming the proclamation of this Catholic dogma four years earlier.

One of the most notable passages of Occitan in Western literature occurs in the 26th canto of Dante's Purgatorio in which the troubadour Arnaut Daniel responds to the narrator:

"Tan m'abellis vostre cortes deman, / qu'ieu no me puesc ni voill a vos cobrire. / Ieu sui Arnaut, que plor e vau cantan; / consiros vei la passada folor, / e vei jausen lo joi qu'esper, denan. / Ara vos prec, per aquella valor / que vos guida al som de l'escalina, / sovenha vos a temps de ma dolor"
Modern Occitan: Tan m'abelís vòstra cortesa demanda, / que ieu non pòdi ni vòli m'amagar de vos. / Ieu soi Arnaut, que plori e vau cantant; / consirós vesi la foliá passada, / e vesi joiós lo jorn qu'espèri, davant. / Ara vos prègui, per aquela valor / que vos guida al som de l'escalièr, / sovenhatz-vos tot còp de ma dolor.

The above strophe translates to:

So pleases me your courteous demand, / I cannot and I will not hide me from you. / I am Arnaut, who weep and singing go;/ Contrite I see the folly of the past, /And joyous see the hoped-for day before me. / Therefore do I implore you, by that power/ Which guides you to the summit of the stairs, / Be mindful to assuage my suffering!

Another notable Occitan quotation, this time from Arnaut Daniel's own 10th Canto:

"leu sui Arnaut qu'amas l'aura
E chatz le lebre ab lo bou
E nadi contra suberna"
Modern Occitan: Ieu soi Arnaut qu'aimi l'aura e caci [chaci] la lèbre amb lo buòu e nadi contra subèrna.

Translation:

"I am Arnaut who loves the wind,
And chases the hare with the ox,
And swims against the torrent."

French writer Victor Hugo's classic Les Misérables also contains some Occitan. In Part One, First Book, Chapter IV, "Les œuvres semblables aux paroles", one can read about Monseigneur Bienvenu:

"Né provençal, il s'était facilement familiarisé avec tous les patois du midi. Il disait: — E ben, monsur, sètz saget? comme dans le bas Languedoc. — Ont anaratz passar? comme dans les basses Alpes. — Pòrti un bon moton amb un bon formatge gras, comme dans le haut Dauphiné. […] Parlant toutes les langues, il entrait dans toutes les âmes."

Translation:

"Born a Provençal, he easily familiarized himself with the dialect of the south. He would say, E ben, monsur, sètz saget? as in lower Languedoc; Ont anaratz passar? as in the Basses-Alpes; Pòrti un bon moton amb un bon formatge gras as in upper Dauphiné. […] As he spoke all tongues, he entered into all hearts."
E ben, monsur, sètz saget?: So, Mister, everything's fine?
Ont anaratz passar?: Which way will you go?
Pòrti un bon moton amb un bon formatge gras: I brought some fine mutton with a fine fat cheese

The Spanish playwright Lope de Rueda included a Gascon servant for comical effect in one of his short pieces, La generosa paliza.[40]

John Barnes's Thousand Cultures science fiction series (A Million Open Doors, 1992; Earth Made of Glass, 1998; The Merchants of Souls, 2001; and The Armies of Memory, 2006), features Occitan. So does the 2005 best-selling novel Labyrinth by English author Kate Mosse. It is set in Carcassonne, where she owns a house and spends half of the year.

The French composer Joseph Canteloube created five sets of folk songs entitled Songs of the Auvergne, in which the lyrics are in the Auvergne dialect of Occitan. The orchestration is unbelievably luscious, vividly conjuring up pastoral scenes of yesteryear.

Michael Crichton features Occitan in his Timeline novel.

Notes

  1. ^ Gencat.net
  2. ^ Pronunciation given in the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary, 7th edition, 2005.y
  3. ^ Regional pronunciations: occitan = [u(k)siˈtã, u(k)siˈtɔ, ukʃiˈtɔ, uksiˈta].
  4. ^ Regional pronunciations: lenga d'òc = [ˈlẽɡɔˈdɔ, ˈlẽɡaˈdɔk].
  5. ^ As stated in its Statute of Autonomy approved. See Article 6.5 in the Parlament-cat.net , text of the 2006 Statute of Catalonia (PDF)
  6. ^ Smith and Bergin, Old Provençal Primer, p. 9
  7. ^ Dalby, Andrew (1998). "Occitan". Dictionary of Languages (1st ed.). Bloomsbury Publishing plc. p. 468. ISBN 0-7475-3117-X. http://www.bloomsbury.com/. Retrieved 2006-11-08. 
  8. ^ Orbilat.com
  9. ^ Bec Pierre (1995) La langue occitane, coll. Que sais-je? n° 1059, Paris: Presses Universitaires de France. Arveiller Raymond (1967) Étude sur le parler de Monaco, Monaco: Comité National des Traditions Monégasques, p. ix.
  10. ^ Badia i Margarit, Antoni M. (1995). Gramàtica de la llengua catalana: Descriptiva, normativa, diatòpica, diastràtica. Barcelona: Proa. , 253.1 (Catalan)
  11. ^ Smith and Bergin, Old Provençal Primer, p. 2
  12. ^ Lapobladelduc.org, "El nom de la llengua". The name of the language, in Catalan
  13. ^ Morvan, Michel (1997). Les origines linguistiques du Basque. Presses Universitaires de Bordeaux (PUB). p. 26. ISBN 978-2867811821. 
  14. ^ Jurio, Jimeno (1997). Navarra: Historia del Euskera. Txalaparta. pp. 59-60. ISBN 978-8-481-36062-2. 
  15. ^ "Licenciado Andrés de Poza y Yarza". EuskoMedia Fundazioa. http://www.euskomedia.org/aunamendi/118353. Retrieved 2010-02-17.  Poza quotes the Basques inhabiting lands as far east as the River Gallego in the 16th century
  16. ^ Ghigo F. (1980) The Provençal speech of the Waldensian colonists of Valdese, North Carolina, Valdese: Historic Valdese Foundation; Holmes U. T. (1934) "Waldensian speech in North Carolina", Zeitschrift für romanische Philologie 54: 500–513
  17. ^ Expatries-france.com, Selection Villes
  18. ^ LaDepeche.fr
  19. ^ Domergue Sumien (2006) La standardisation pluricentrique de l'occitan: nouvel enjeu sociolinguistique, développement du lexique et de la morphologie, Turnhout: Brepols.
  20. ^ Jean-Pierre Juge (2001) Petit précis - Chronologie occitane - Histoire & civilisation, p. 25
  21. ^ a b c d "Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 1)". Omniglot.com. http://www.omniglot.com/udhr/italic.htm. Retrieved 2009-10-15. 
  22. ^ "Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 1)". Omniglot.com. http://www.omniglot.com/udhr/germanic.htm. Retrieved 2009-10-15. 
  23. ^ Georg Kremnitz, "Une approche sociolinguistique", in F. Peter Kirsch, & Georg Kremnitz, & Brigitte Schlieben-Lange (2002) Petite histoire sociale de la langue occitane: usages, images, littérature, grammaires et dictionnaires, coll. Cap al Sud, F-66140 Canet: Trabucaire, p. 109-111 [updated version and partial translation from: Günter Holtus, & Michael Metzeltin, & Christian Schmitt (1991) (dir.) Lexikon der Romanistischen Linguistik. Vol. V-2: Okzitanisch, Katalanisch, Tübingen: Niemeyer]
  24. ^ Philippe Blanchet, Louis Bayle, Pierre Bonnaud and Jean Lafitte
  25. ^ As indicated by: Georg Kremnitz, "Une approche sociolinguistique", in F. Peter Kirsch, & Georg Kremnitz, & Brigitte Schlieben-Lange (2002) Petite histoire sociale de la langue occitane: usages, images, littérature, grammaires et dictionnaires, coll. Cap al Sud, F-66140 Canet: Trabucaire, p. 109-111 [updated version and partial translation from: Günter Holtus, & Michael Metzeltin, & Christian Schmitt (1991) (dir.) Lexikon der Romanistischen Linguistik. Vol. V-2: Okzitanisch, Katalanisch, Tübingen: Niemeyer]
  26. ^ Kremintz Georg (2003) "Un regard sociolinguistique sur les changements de la situation de l’occitan depuis 1968" in: Castano R., & Guida S., & Latella F. (2003) (dir.) Scènes, évolutions, sort de la langue et de la littérature d’oc. Actes du VIIe congrès de l’Association Internationale d’Études Occitanes, Reggio di Calabria/Messina, 7-13 juillet 2002, Rome: Viella
  27. ^ See especiallay:
    • From traditional Romance philology: Jules Ronjat (1930–1941), Grammaire istorique [sic] des parlers provençaux modernes, 4 vol. [reed. 1980, Marseilles: Laffitte Reprints, 2 vol., see especially the "Introduction" (vol. 1, p. 1–32)]
    • About the unity of the Occitan diasystem in structural linguistics: Pierre Bec (1973), Manuel pratique d’occitan moderne, coll. Connaissance des langues, Paris: Picard, p. 24–25
  28. ^ Philippe Blanchet, Louis Bayle
  29. ^ The most emblematic and productive ones, Frédéric Mistral, Robert Lafont, and their followers (Théodore Aubanel, René Merle, Claude Barsotti, Philippe Gardy, Florian Vernet, Bernard Giély, Pierre Pessemesse...), and also the most important and historic Provençal cultural associations as CREO Provença, Felibrige and Parlaren (Assiso de la Lengo Nostro en Prouvènço, 2003)
  30. ^ The close ties between Gascon and others Occitan dialects have been demonstrated through a common diasystem: Bec, Pierre (1963). La Langue Occitane. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France. p. 46. 
  31. ^ Georg Kremnitz, "Une approche sociolinguistique", in F. Peter Kirsch, & Georg Kremnitz, & Brigitte Schlieben-Lange (2002) Petite histoire sociale de la langue occitane: usages, images, littérature, grammaires et dictionnaires, coll. Cap al Sud, F-66140 Canet: Trabucaire, p. 109–111 [updated version and partial translation from: Günter Holtus, & Michael Metzeltin, & Christian Schmitt (1991) (dir.) Lexikon der Romanistischen Linguistik. Vol. V-2: Okzitanisch, Katalanisch, Tübingen: Niemeyer]
  32. ^ PerNoste.com
  33. ^ Reclams.no-ip.org, Reclams/Escòla Gaston Fèbus
  34. ^ Perso.orange.fr, Aranaram Au Patac
  35. ^ Lluis Fornés, see his thesis El Pensament Panoccitanista on the Oc-València site.
  36. ^ Modern loanword from Italian or Greek (Iordan, Dift., 145)
  37. ^ Avner Gerard Levy & Jacques Ajenstat: The Kodaxil Semantic Manifesto (2006), Section 10 – Modified Base64 / Kodaxil word length, representation, p. 9: "the English language, as claimed by Merriam-Webster, as well as the Occitan language – are estimated to comprise over 450,000 words in their basic form."
  38. ^ Pierre Bec (1995) La langue occitane, coll. Que sais-je? nr. 1059, Paris: Presses Universitaires de France [1st ed. 1963]
  39. ^ Gencat.net
  40. ^ Registro de Representantes by Lope de Rueda, in Spanish. Peirutón speaks a mix of Gascon and Catalan.

See also

Occitan language edition of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Internal links

Bibliography

  • Smith, Nathaniel B.; Bergin, Thomas Goddard (1984). An Old Provençal Primer. Garland. ISBN 0824090306. 
  • Carrera, Aitor (2007) (in Aranese). Gramatica Aranesa. Lleida: Pagès Editors. ISBN 9788497794848. 

External links


Simple English

The Occitan language (Occitan: Occitan, French: Occitan) is a romance language spoken in parts of southern France, Spain, Italy and Monaco.

The Occitan language took a different path from Latin than any of the official languages in the countries mentioned above. It is sometimes called Lenga d'òc (language of "Oc", French: Langue d'oc) because the word for yes is òc, as opposed to oil (oui) or in other languages. Latin had no word for yes, and this is one way to distinguish among Romance languages.

Dialects

The dialects of Occitan language are:

  • Alpine (also named Vivaro-Alpine or Provençal Alpine)
  • Auvergnat
  • Gascon (including Aranese spoken in Val d'Aran, Catalonia, Spain)
  • Languedocien
  • Limousin
  • Provençal

Some of these dialect names were used in the past to name the whole language (Provençal, Limousin, Gascon).

Other websites


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