Harold F. Schiffman
haroldfs at ccat.sas.upenn.edu
Mon Sep 27 15:40:50 UTC 2004
The Sociolinguistics of Southern 'Occitan' France, revisited
Prof. Philippe Blanchet and Prof. Harold Schiffman, eds.
The International Journal of the Sociology of Language, 169, 2004, 171 p.
Prof. Joshua Fishman, General Editor.
Blanchet, Philippe, Prof. in Sociolinguistics, Universite Rennes 2,
Gasquet-Cyrus, Mederic, Researcher in Sociolinguistics, Universite de
Manzano, Francis, Dr., Reader in Sociolinguistics, Universite Rennes 2,
Moreux, Bernard, Dr., Researcher in Sociolinguistics, CNRS, Universite de
Schiffman, Harold, Prof. of Dravidian Linguistics, University of
Pennsylvania, Philadelphia USA.
Soupel, Serge, Prof. in Linguistics, Universite Paris III, France.
Table of contents :
Blanchet, Philippe and Schiffman, Harold, Revisiting the sociolinguistics
of 'Occitan': a presentation.
Moreux, Bernard, Bearnais and Gascon today: language behavior and
Manzano, Francis, Situation and use of Occitan in Languedoc.
Soupel, Serge, The special position of Auvergnat.
Gasquet-Cyrus, Mederic, The sociolinguistics of Marseilles.
Blanchet, Philippe, Provencal as a distinct language?: sociolinguistic
patterns revealed by a recent public and political debate.
Blanchet, Philippe, Uses and images of 'Occitan': an Occitanist way of
presenting things (Review of Boyer, H. & Gardy, Ph. (Dir.), (2001). Dix
siecles d'usages et d'images de l'occitan. Des troubadours a l'Internet,
Paris : L'Harmattan, 2001, 469 p.).
General Presentation :
The study of the sociolinguistics of both the autochthonous Romance
languages of southern France and the southern dialects of French,
alongside the unavoidable issue of standard French itself, has long been
dominated by the so-called 'Occitanist' point of view. This point of view,
which developed in the 1970's, tended to present the various autochthonous
regional and local languages and dialects of southern Gallo-Romance as a
single language known as Occitan. The unspoken hope for this language was
that it could be somehow unified in order to reverse a situation of
diglossia perceived as purely a conflict with French, and to replace
French in all its official and social functions, within a single large
region called 'Occitania'. Local 'varieties' of this supposed Occitan were
treated as if they were moribund remainders of an ancient society, and
were to be transformed into one standard language with a single spelling.
Southern dialects of French, born from a mixing of local languages and
French, were thus considered as another threat to the use of 'Occitan' and
their role as a 'go-between' or perhaps intermediaries in the
sociolinguistic situations in question was rarely recognized. The major
political and scientific reference point of this Occitanist
sociolinguistics was the Spanish/Catalan one, bundled together with a
vaguely Marxist and ethnonationalist ideology that held that any other
point of view on 'Occitan vs. French' was a reactionary position.
This issue of the IJSL intends to present another analysis of this
situation. Its main characteristics are that it is based on recent
research work that reveals how people actually perceive and use their
various languages in Southern France, including their dialects of French,
in relation to French as the official language of France. For them,
'Occitan' not only does not exist as a single unified language, but the
French language is their language too. The actual sociolinguistic
situations of the various regional languages and communities (instead of
the putative unified 'Occitania ') are very different from one another.
The diglossia in question is revealed to be lived and consequently
analysed as a more complex situation of unbalanced complementarity. The
papers in this compendium deal with the following :
Bearnais and Gascon (in rural south-western France), as perceived
and practiced both by ordinary speakers and by different sorts of
Occitan in the Languedoc region (the heart of the Occitanist
vision of things and actions), in its relation with, and differences
between, Catalan and other related languages,
Auvergnat in a rural region where people do not even perceive that
they belong to the South of France,
Multilingual Marseilles, the second largest city in France and the
largest one in Southern France, where a provencalised variety of French
has become the local standard shared by people of all origins,
Provencal as perceived and promoted by the elected representatives
of the people of Provence, through the vigorous debates that recently
Occurred in France over the European Charter for Regional Languages.
All contributors are scholars and researchers who are specialists of the
issues in question, and have been studying these situations for many
years. The general presentation of the issue, written by the editors,
benefits from the inside view of a specialist of southern France (Ph.
Blanchet) and the outside view of a specialist of the sociolinguistics of
another part of the world (South Asia). This introduction gives a critical
analysis of the occitanist sociolinguistics and ideology, in regard with
new conceptual frames and social change in present-day southern France.
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