Occitan language

Occitan
occitan, lenga d'òc, provençal
Native toFrance, Spain, Italy, Monaco
EthnicityOccitans
Native speakers
estimates range from 100,000 to 800,000 (2007–2012)[1][2]
Early form
Dialects
Latin alphabet (Occitan alphabet)
Official status
Official language in
 Catalonia ( Spain)
Recognised minority
language in
 France
 Italy (Law number 482 of 15 December 1999) [3]
Regulated byConselh de la Lenga Occitana;[4] Congrès Permanent de la Lenga Occitana;[5] Institut d'Estudis Aranesi[6]
Language codes
oc
oci
ISO 639-3oci – inclusive code
Individual code:
sdt – Judeo-Occitan
occi1239[7]
Linguasphere51-AAA-g & 51-AAA-f
Occitania blanck map.PNG
Idioma occitano dialectos.png
Various dialects of Occitan
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Occitan (English: n/,[8][9] Occitan: [utsiˈta],[a] French: [ɔksitɑ̃]), also known as lenga d'òc (Occitan: [ˈleŋɡɔ ˈðɔ(k)] (About this soundlisten); French: langue d'oc) by its native speakers, is a Romance language. It is spoken in Southern France, Italy's Occitan Valleys, Monaco, as well as Spain's Val d'Aran; collectively, these regions are sometimes referred to as Occitania. Occitan is also spoken in the linguistic enclave of Guardia Piemontese (Calabria, Italy). Some include Catalan in Occitan, as the distance between this language and some Occitan dialects (such as the Gascon language) is similar to the distance among different Occitan dialects. In fact, Catalan was considered an Occitan dialect until the end of the 19th century.[10]

Today, Occitan is an official language in Catalonia, where a subdialect of Gascon known as Aranese is spoken in the Val d'Aran.[11] Occitan's closest relative is Catalan.[12] Since September 2010, the Parliament of Catalonia has considered Aranese Occitan to be the officially preferred language for use in the Val d'Aran.

Across history, the terms Limousin (Lemosin), Languedocien (Lengadocian), Gascon, and later Provençal (Provençal, Provençau or Prouvençau) have been used as synonyms for the whole of Occitan; nowadays, "Provençal" is understood mainly as the Occitan dialect spoken in Provence, in southeast France.[13]

Unlike other Romance languages such as French or Spanish, there is no single written standard language called "Occitan", and Occitan has no official status in France, home to most of Occitania. Instead, there are competing norms for writing Occitan, some of which attempt to be pan-dialectal, whereas others are based on particular dialects. These efforts are hindered by the rapidly declining use of Occitan as a spoken language in much of southern France, as well as by the significant differences in phonology and vocabulary among different Occitan dialects.

In particular, the northern and easternmost dialects have more morphological and phonetic features in common with the Gallo-Italic and Oïl languages (e.g. nasal vowels; loss of final consonants; initial cha/ja- instead of ca/ga-; uvular ⟨r⟩; the front-rounded sound /ø/ instead of a diphthong, /w/ instead of /l/ before a consonant), whereas the southernmost dialects have more features in common with the Ibero-Romance languages (e.g. betacism; voiced fricatives between vowels in place of voiced stops; -ch- in place of -it-), and Gascon has a number of unusual features not seen in other dialects (e.g. /h/ in place of /f/; loss of /n/ between vowels; intervocalic -r- and final -t/ch in place of medieval -ll-). There are also significant lexical differences, where some dialects have words cognate with French, and others have Catalan and Spanish cognates (maison/casa "house", testa/cap "head", petit/pichon "small", achaptar/crompar "to buy", entendre/ausir "to hear", se taire/se calar "to be quiet", tombar/caire "to fall", p(l)us/mai "more", totjorn/sempre "always", etc.). Nonetheless, there is a significant amount of mutual intelligibility.

The long-term survival of Occitan is in grave doubt. According to the UNESCO Red Book of Endangered Languages,[14] four of the six major dialects of Occitan (Provençal, Auvergnat, Limousin and Languedocien) are considered severely endangered, whereas the remaining two (Gascon and Vivaro-Alpine) are considered definitely endangered.

Name

History of the modern term

Main cities of Occitania, written in the Occitan language

The name Occitan comes from lenga d'òc ("language of òc"), òc being the Occitan word for yes. While the term would have been in use orally for some time after the decline of Latin, as far as historical records show, the Italian medieval poet Dante was the first to have recorded the term lingua d'oc in writing. In his De vulgari eloquentia, he wrote in Latin, "nam alii oc, alii si, alii vero dicunt oil" ("for some say òc, others , yet others say oïl"), thereby highlighting three major Romance literary languages that 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 (Sicilian and Italian). This was not, of course, the only defining characteristic 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 now the Catalan of Northern Catalonia also have hoc (òc). Other Romance languages derive their word for "yes" from the Latin sic, "thus [it is], [it was done], etc.", such as Spanish , Eastern Lombard , Sicilian and 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 also in higher register as a positive response.[15] French uses si to answer "yes" in response to questions that are asked in the negative sense: e.g., "Vous n'avez pas de frères?" "Si, j'en ai sept." ("You have no brothers?" "But yes, I have seven.").

The name "Occitan" was attested around 1300 as occitanus, a crossing of oc and aquitanus (Aquitanian).[16]

Other names for Occitan

For many centuries, the Occitan dialects (together with Catalan)[17] were referred to as Limousin or Provençal, after the names of two regions lying within the modern Occitan-speaking area. After Frédéric Mistral's Félibrige movement in the 19th century, Provençal achieved the greatest literary recognition and so became the most popular term for Occitan.

According to Joseph Anglade, a philologist and specialist of medieval literature who helped impose the then archaic term Occitan as the sole correct name,[18] the word Lemosin was first used to designate the language at the beginning of the 13th century by Catalan troubadour Raimon Vidal de Besalú(n) in his Razós de trobar:

La parladura Francesca val mais et [es] plus avinenz a far romanz e pasturellas; mas cella de Lemozin val mais per far vers et cansons et serventés; et per totas las terras de nostre lengage son de major autoritat li cantar de la lenga Lemosina que de negun'autra parladura, per qu'ieu vos en parlarai primeramen.[19]

The French language is worthier and better suited for romances and pastourelles; but that (language) from Limousin is of greater value for writing poems and cançons and sirventés; and across the whole of the lands where our tongue is spoken, the literature in the Limousin language has more authority than any other dialect, wherefore I shall use this name in priority.

As for the word Provençal, it should not be taken as strictly meaning the language of Provence, but of Occitania as a whole, for "in the eleventh, the twelfth, and sometimes also the thirteenth centuries, one would understand under the name of Provence the whole territory of the old Provincia romana Gallia Narbonensis and even Aquitaine".[20] The term first came into fashion in Italy.[21]

Currently, linguists use the terms "Provençal" and "Limousin" strictly to refer to specific varieties within Occitania, keeping the name "Occitan" for the language as a whole. Many non-specialists, however, continue to refer to the language as Provençal, causing some confusion.