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La Vergonha and the Future of Occitan Language

For my project, I wanted to explore how exactly the Occitan language experienced its decline since the time of the troubadours up until modern times. I looked at several secondary sources that examined the place of Occitan in France throughout history, and in addition, I looked at legislature, particularly the French Constitution to find France’s stance on language in the country. I started out by looking into the current status of Occitan in France alongside the presence of Occitan in medieval Europe after the time of the troubadours and Cathars. I then discovered France’s complicated history with language policies, and then furthermore, the attempted, systematic suppression of regional languages during the 19th and 20th centuries. Thus, I focused my project on the complexities of France’s language policies and its attempted linguicide of Occitan and the other regional languages of France. I started off with the Ordinance of Villers-Cotterêts in 1539 which marked the beginning of the long decline, and I ended with modern day politics, including the political parties in France and also the European Union. Throughout its history, France has tried many times to implement a monolingual nation, and the most effective implementation came in the latter half of the 19th century. Called “La Vergonha” by native speakers, the time period in France was marked by shaming of Occitan speakers, exclusion in the media, and even parents refusing to pass on the language to their children. From 1860 to the present day, the percentage of native speakers dropped from 39% to less than 10%, and the number continues to dwindle today. Despite this however, support from the Council of Europe, the Socialist Party, and popular opinion has led to a revival. The question remains however if this revival comes too little, too late. With less than half a million natives and the encroaching influence of globalization, it is possible that Occitan disappears in another century or two. There has been success in language revitalization across the world, but only time will tell if Occitan is lost to English and French or if it will survive as a major force in southern France.  


Léglu, Catherine. "Languages in Conflict in Toulouse: "Las Leys D' Amors"" The Modern Language Review 103, no. 2 (2008): 383. doi:10.2307/20467779.

Moseley, Ariana. NCUR Proceedings. Proceedings of National Conference On Undergraduate Research, Weber State University, Ogden, Utah. Accessed July 3, 2016.

The Other France: Troubadours and the Politics of Cultural Heritage
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