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Occitan Language

La Lenga Occitana
What does Occitan means ?

Go to Home page ? L'European Occitan Academia, en Oc ? L'histoire en Français ?
1 - Linguistic elements
2 - Registers
3 - Speaking easily
4 - All that for what reason ?

Some linguistic elements

Patois, dialects, language…? A system so simple. Aprendre l'occitan de la ville et de l'avenir ?
Un còp fa pas fuòc” (“once in a while does not harm”) as one says in Occitan, and since it does not exist any “Larousse Dictionary” in Occitan we will use the 'Usual French Larousse’ that can not be accused of partiality. So what does this great book say ?

occitan, masculine common noun Langue d'Oc. (c) Larousse.
occitan, adjective and noun from Occitania, covering every areas where people speak the Langue d'Oc. ( c) Larousse.
oc, adverb (old occitan oc, meaning yes) (c) Larousse
Langue d'oc, every Roman dialects (now called Occitan) spoken in the South of France  (by opposition to the Langue d'oïl).(c) Larousse.
Note : Of course, one should add to them the Val d’Aran (in Spain) and the Vals of Italy, but it is not mentioned in the French "Larousse".

langue feminine noun (latin: lingua)
II. 1. System of verbal signs used by each member of a given community, consisting of words, either spoken or written, to speak and communicate between them. For Instance : the English language, the language of the XVIth century, the language of the law.
- Mother tongue, the language of the country we were born and of which we are the native speakers. 
- Living language, still spoken. 
- Dead language, not spoken any more..
(c) Larousse.

dialect masculin noun (bas latin: dialectus)
1. Regional range of Language.
2. Social dialect : whole terms used in a social group (for instance : slang, technical vocabularies ...)
( c) Larousse.

patois masculin noun (from the French word : patte [leg, foot, paw])
Rural language used by quite a small group of people and mostly oral.
(c) Larousse

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Why some registers ?
The smaller a human group is, the more the communication is personal or affective ; the more spread it is, the more official it is. Here is how registers work. One can say “M’en vau al cagador(“I’m gonna wee-wee”) to a relative ; but to a stranger one says 'I go to the toilet'. It is as possible to change registers in Occitan as in every languages, without changing the language. Here, one should have said “M’en vau a las lavatinas in order to respect the register.
Local and/or restraint and/or specialised register.
Speakers of a local group (family, village, area, of a given job) use a restraint and/or specialised vocabulary, it is called a “Local variation of a language”. It is the first level of a given language, its platform, its root, what one calls pejoratively “patois”. For instance the ‘Beur' in France is technically no more than a patois of French, just as 'Slang' or the 'Berrichon' of a French village. It is part of a Language, but only a little part, it is often oral and common to a small social class.
The regional and/or intermediate register.
Those local variations of a language are put together according to the regions, according to their displaying areas, or to the administrative or economical needs. It is the second level of exchanges and enrichment of the language, it has a regional use.
Those regional variations of a language are often called “dialects”, for instance in Occitan it refers to the traditional dialects (Lengadocian, Gavòt, Provençau o Gascon), or in French to the Berrichon, or the language of the region of la Loire.
It traditionally means the language of Province, or of the regional market.
The national or interregional or official, or institutional register.
Local and regional variations, and the written language, literature and so on, form what we usually call the Language. Occitan being a language similar to the others, it also answers to those common laws.
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Speaking easily and fluently a language.

How to understand and speak every languages ?
That is a rule for every languages and therefore for Occitan as well. Why not ?
To speak easily and fluently a language is being able to choose one of the registers of that language. We do not say “Nina” (English : Babe) to someone we do not know, nor “Dòna” (English : Mrs.) to our wife (except when kidding of course !). Therefore, in order to communicate with strangers, we need to learn (at least at the beginning) a neutral register that is not affective, nor official, nor literary. Then knowing this neutral language, we are able to learn other registers, if we have enough time to do so, and then to choose freely, just as in our mother tongue, the appropriate register according to the different circles, or the message you need to communicate. But, anyway, you will be able to communicate without making mistake and above all not to cut the desired communication.

A little example, you can verify it in practice.
Find an Occitan native-speaker and, if he is not one of your acquaintances, say to him “Adieu” : his answer (of course not cordial) will be “Que vòl aquel ?” (what does this guy want ?); or he would answer in French, and even not at all. Why ? Because you would have use ‘tu’ without being aware of it, as if you knew him !
It is just the same as the French “Salut !” or the English “Hi !”. A typical mistake when one does not know its registers.
Then try to say “Adieussiatz”, and you will be surprised to see him answering with a smile !
Why ? Because, even if he never learns it at school, he knows that it is a respectful formula.

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What does it means ? Where do we want to go ?

All that, in order to encourage you to learn all the Occitan language, and let you know that in that language we can say everything ; to give you the will to study it, through each of its registers, through its unity, through its entire literature, it is a extraordinary means of communication, we must not weaken it, we must not restrict it, but we have to reconquer it.
With its suffixes mechanisms and its way of “saying the world”, it is a tongue of the future, deeply rooted in a classic literature (Troubadours) that is still nowadays, at the eve of the year 2000, an avant-garde literature.
To conclude, I will quote after having translated it in Occitan, Nicolas BOILEAU, the famous French writer :
Subretot qu'en vòstres escriches la lenga asorada
Dins vòstres màgers excèces totjorn vos siaga sagrada
Nicolas Boileau, in "L'Art poétique".

Surtout qu'en vos écrits la langue révérée
Dans vos plus grands excès vous soit toujours sacrée
Nicolas Boileau, in "L'Art poétique".

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