ALTHOUGH you may know the word troubadour is drawn from the Occitan language, did you know cauliflower is as well?
Caulet flòri is the Occitan original and the linguistic territory that makes up the langue d'oc stretches from the Atlantic coast to the Alps; the Pyrennes to Auvergne.
Occitan is a romance language derived from Latin and dates back to the 2nd Century BC, over the centuries two areas were established, the Narbonnaise "Province" around the Mediterranean and Aquitaine in the west, from the Pyrennes to the Loire.
Following the Revolution the language became more associated with political debate, with Occitan grouped with other regional languages and described as a "patois", used more as a pejorative term than descriptive.
Today there is a growing movement to raise awareness of Occitan, both its language and culture, with the Institut d'Etudes Occitanes (IEO), based in Toulouse, playing a key role in promoting the language.
The IEO organises classes in the Occitan language, but also publishes reports and magazines, organises cultural events and on a local level helps regional offices collect recordings of language and music.
Their work extends to restoring the correct Occitan versions of place names, which can be used by local government, for example, Brive-la-Gaillarde is also known as Briva and its origins are from the Gaulish word for bridge.
An important time in the Occitan calendar is the celebration of the Felibrige movement, which sees the language and music performed in villages, but also ensures writers are published and the history of the language is passed on to the younger generation.
Despite a long and rich history, many people only cross the Occitan language on signage or in weekly news bulletins, so the IEO is pressing for a public television and radio service, as well as further support for teaching and the state to encourage use of the language in public buildings and at a legal level.
French Wikipedia entry
l'Association CORDAE/La Talvera - records and preserves the culture of Occitania
Jacme Delmas - videos and reports of both Occitan and Catalan language
If you found this useful...
+ Stay up-to-date: Get your free This French Life newsletter