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Occitan language

Occitan, or langue d'oc is a Romance language spoken across the southern third of France (to the south of the Loire), as well as in some of the Alpine valleys in Italy and in the Val d'Aran in Spain. The name of the language comes from oc, the medieval word for yes, as opposed to northern French or Langue d'oïl.

The term Provençal is also used, but Provençal[?] is just one of the dialects grouped under the label Occitan, the variant of the Provence region, the literary dialect used by Frederic Mistral and the Felibrige[?].

Occitan was the vehicle for the first vernacular poetry of medieval Europe, that of the troubadors. With the gradual imposition of French royal power over its territory, Occitan declined in status from the 14th century on. Though it was still the everyday language of most of the rural population of the South well into the 20th century, it had been replaced in more formal uses by French. Today there are still several million native speakers of Occitan, though they are to be found mostly in the older generations. Ethnic activism, particularly the Occitan-language preschools, the Calandretas, have reintroduced the language to the young.

The actual use of the term Occitan seems rather confusing. Some authors consider that Occitan is a family of langages, including:

which are seen as separate languages. See Ethnologue (http://www.ethnologue.com/show_family.asp?subid=825). Bearnes[?] is considered as a dialect of Gascon.

Almost all serious linguists and occitan writers disagree strongly with the view that Occitan is a family of languages and think that Limousin, Auvergnat, Alpin, Gascon, Languedocien and Provençal are dialects of a single language.

Among the diachronical[?] features of Occitan as a Romance language:

  • Unlike French, preserved stressed A of Latin (Latin MARE > Oc. mar, but > Fr. mer).
  • Like French, changed Latin U to [y] and shifted the series of back vowels U>y, o>u O>o.
  • Gascon changed initial Latin F to aspirated [h] (Latin FILIU > Gascon Oc. hilh), like medieval Spanish did.
  • Other lenition and palatalisation phenomena shared with other western Romance languages, specially with Catalan.

External link Ethnologue report for Provençal (http://www.ethnologue.com/show_language.asp?code=PRV) (The views presented on this site are contrary to the opinion of the vast majority of linguists.)

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