Occitan is the name given to a group of dialects forming a language spoken by around 1.5 million people living in the historical region of Occitania (southern France, north-eastern Spain and north-west Italy). Our Pont Project partners (Espaci Occitan) come from Dronero, in the Occitan Valleys of Piedmont, Italy.
Occitan used to be a really popular language in mediaeval times, before it was superseded in France by Norman French.
The name “Occitan” reflects the way you say “yes” (“Oc”). This is why it is also known as Langue d’Oc (as in “the Languedoc region of France”)
Occitan would once have been heard frequently in the English royal court – in fact, it was the first language of King Richard the Lionheart and his brother King John. They learnt it from their mother Eleanor of Aquitaine, who came from an Occitan speaking region.
Recently there has a been a resurgence in the number of people learning Occitan, similar to the revival of Welsh language learning here in Wales.
What does Occitan sound like? Click here to find out!