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The name Occitan refers to the geographical name Occitania which is patterned after Aquitania. It includes the regions of Limousin, Languedox, the old Aquitaine, the southern part of the French Alps, where all of population is Occitan speaking. Occitan speakers refer to their lanauage as la lenga nòstra.
Languedoc comes from the term langue d'oc which denotes a language using oc for yes, in contrast to the French language langue d'oil which used oil (oui) for yes and the Italian-derived languages that used si. The Italian medieval poet Dante was the first to record the term in his De Vulgari Eloquentia, where he wrote: name alii oc, alii si, alii vero dicunt oil (some say òc, others si, others say oïl).
Languedoc refers to a linguistic and political geographical region of the southern Massif Central in France.
Provençal originally referred to the Occitan dialects of the so-named region. It is also used to refer to the standarised medieval literary langauge based on the dialec of Provence.
Empire Romaine: Aquitaine and Novempopulanie
Aquitaine, the land of abundant water for many harkens back to an ethnogeographical entity created by the aquitaine language inherited by their forefathers.
Caesar was the first author to cite and describe Aquitaine, which according to him extended from la Garonne aus Pyrénées and the stretch of ocean near Spain. He notes that the Aquatains could be distinguished from Celts by their langauge, culture and their bodies of law. Later, the greek cartographer Strabon described the Aquitain people "as a people entirely set apart, not only because of their langauge but also because of their physical appearance."
In 56AD, Crassus went to war against the Aquitain population centered at Sos, then at Beegaar. Ths caused a displacement of population who took refuge on the left bank of the Ardour river near the Pyrénées, home of the Basque people. However, their language and their culture held.
At the end of the 3rd century, the Aquitaine people created an imagined community, notably a new Aquitaine: the Novempopulanie (Land of the Nine People)
Language and Development
Occitan developed from Langue d'Oc (also called Provençal). It was the first literary dialect of high culture in the territory now encompassed by France. It developed, as did Francien from the Vulgar Latin transmitted by Roman soldiers and traders. The Encyclopédia Occitane states that Provençal was actually the first Romance language to emerge from the mix of Roman and barbarian tongues. The earliest surviving text in Langue d'Oc can be attributed to the 10th century. Unsurprisingly, the best-known ambassadors of Occitan were troubadours and minstrels. They created enduring lyrical poetry and canso, distributing the idea of courtly love.
While Occitania was composed of small feudal polities at this point in time, their common langauge had a standardised orthography. It served admirably as a language of philosophy, science, law and the arts as well as surviving as the daily spoken language.
Rise of the French State
Most of Occitania was added to the territory of the French state by the 15th cenutry. However, the French language did not supplant Occitan for some time. The Edict of Villers-Cotterêts(1539)made the French from the Ile de France the official language of government and legal documents, superceding Latin and the other 30 or so Gallo- and Latinate local dialects spoken by the majority of the populace.
Under La Monarchie Française
Unsurprisingly, French came to be the language of culture for the Occitan elite and contributed a great deal of courtly customs to the Occitan vocabulary. However, the Capetian rulers of Occitania allowed translations at the local level. Thus, the royal authority did not enforce its rule.
While Occitan held strongly, French did begin to encroach slowly. French had to be learned to curry favour with the new crown in Ile-de-France, the bourgeoisie, entrepreneurs and governamtal functionaries. Bilingualism seemed to be in their best interests.
A a, B b, C c, D d, E e, F f, G g, H h, I i, J j, L l, M m, N n, O o, P p, Q q, R r, S s, T t, U u, V v, X x, Z z
- a is pronounced like an English 'apple' when is it at the start of a word, or in the middle: un arbre, un cat
- è is open like the 'ai' sound in air: un mantèl, un castèl
- e this is pronounced like the French é, it is typically shorter and inflects upwards: negre, irange
- i is pronounced like in French, or like in English mist: Un nis, de ris.
- u is pronounced like in French: la luna
- o is pronounced as the long 'o' in 'do': un ostau, lo solelh
- ò is pronounced as the English 'o' in often, typically shorter and inflected down: un estilò, un bòsc
- a as in a final a is pronounced like the initial o in often even if it is followed by an s. Sometimes is like the final a in Louisiana: une cadièra , une camisa.
There are only a few diphthongs in Occitan. They can be equated with the English 'new', 'sound' and 'oyster. In this case, the letter u takes the sound o as in do. When three vowel sounds follow each other, you pronounce all three one after the after.
The particular consonants to Occitan are 'lh' and 'nh'
- lh is pronounced like the French lier in escalier: una una fuèlha, una botelha.
- nh is the equivalent of ñ in Spanish or gn in French: la montanha, una castanha.
Occitan Online Resources
Useful Words and Phrases
- Benvenguda! - Welcome!
- Adieussiatz - Good Morning
Occitan Speaking Characters
Learning or Partially Fluent
- Armand De Thierry, NPC, manservant to Gawain Tredegar (Partially Fluent)