Today’s post is dealing with the letter O, so it’s time for the language Occitan.
Occitan is a romance language spoken in areas of Western Europe, mostly in parts of Southern France, as well as Italy and areas of Spain. Estimates of the number of native speakers of Occitan vary greatly, though Ethnologue has it that there are around 110,000 in France alone, with just under 220,000 native speakers in total as of 2012. There are six different dialects of Occitan (Provençal, Gascon, Limousin, Auvergnat, Languedocien, and Vivaro-Alpine), but UNESCO only appears to have data on two: Gascon and Auvergnat, classifying Gascon as being definitely endangered and Auvergnat as being severely endangered.
Occitan is a recognised minority language in France and Italy, as well as being an official language in Catalonia – Catalan is considered to be the most closely related language to Occitan, which may go some way towards explaining its survival in this area. However, with the current status of the various dialects and the prevalence of the official languages of the nations where Occitan is spoken, the future of Occitan remains in doubt. Ethnologue points out that while there are positive attitudes towards Occitan, it is spoken at home or in mainly rural communities and few children can speak it, even if they do learn Occitan in school. On the other hand, there have been efforts to help promote Occitan – for example, Assimil, a French company which creates very well-known language courses, have released a course for learning Occitan; so if there are more moves like this in the future, hopefully the language will begin to flourish again.
Resources for learning Occitan
Memrise: Occitan courses
OccitaNet: L’occitan sus InterNet
Omniglot: Occitan language
Wikipedia: Occitan language
Costa, James, and Lyster, Roy: Revitalization of Regional Languages in France Through Immersion