February 18, 2006

Occitan, spoken in the south of France, is at the other end of the French spectrum from Chtimi (which I heard in Lille, and I presented in French linguistics last semester). France was originally divided between two languages, the Langues d'Oc (south) and the Langues d'Oïl (north). Modern standard French comes from the Langues d'Oïl (Oïl and Oc meaning Yes), as do other northern French regional languages such as Chti, Normand, Picard, etc. However, the Langues d'Oc can also be broke up into several languages/dialects, including Provençal, Auvernat, and Nissart.
Occitan in spoken in "Miègjorn de la França", or le Midi (de la France), and is quite similar to Catalan (spoken in Barcelona). Due to France's state policy of one official language (Parisian French), many of the regional languages have been suffering, and are close to extinction. It's interesting to point out though that most of these languages existed long before the "King's patois" was chosen to rule the country. Occitan has an amazing amount of poetry and songs written in it.
Here's a line of poetry in Occitan, about Occitan:
Où milan de toun pople
Car sarrian ourfèlin
Sè parties per de bon

In the midst of your people
We'd be orphaned
If you left for good

OccitaNet is a good site if you're interested in more info (including lessons) about Occitan.

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