Why does the French Presidential Election matter to the Occitania?
Now, when we know the results from the French presidential elections, maybe it came as a surprise that Marine Le Pen got elected to the second round. But it is not a surprise to find out that 40 villages in Occitania (south France) did not give a single vote for Marine Le Pen. (The total of 56 villages in France gave 0 votes to Le Pen) (link)
The villages in the south largely picked Jean-Luc Mélenchon or Emmanuel Macron over Marine Le Pen. Many of the villages to the north and east chose rival right-wing candidate François Fillon. The probable reason behind why so many Occitan voters did not vote of Marine Le Penn is in her nationalistic mission to make France “great again”. The Occitan people are perhaps considering that French nationalistic ideas could be a threat to their own ever diminishing cultural heritage.
More than 200 years of conditioned suppression and humiliation.
The name Occitan is derived from the geographical name Occitania. It is now spoken by about 100,000 people in France. Occitans, as a result of more than 200 years of conditioned suppression and humiliation, seldom speak their own language in the presence of foreigners, whether they are from abroad or from outside Occitania. In France, Occitan is still spoken mainly by elderly people in rural areas, but they generally switch to French when dealing with outsiders.(link)
Following a recent amendment, the French Constitution lays down that French is the sole official language of the Republic. Although Occitania has never experienced a “linguistic conflict” in the normal sense of the term, it would seem that measures designed to promote Occitan are fairly systematically curbed by certain public authorities. For this reason, Occitan is never used in the State administration or in the Government’s dealings with citizens and very sporadically used in local administration.
“The best-known ambassadors of Occitan were the troubadours, traveling minstrels who created enduring lyric poetry and canso, inventing and disseminating the idea of courtly love.”
Occitan language is Europe’s common heritage.
Occitan is generally recognized as a language in its own right and as a common European heritage, which represents considerable progress by comparison with past decades. Nevertheless, this recognition has been accompanied by a steady decline in the social use of the language as the oral tradition is no longer passed on. Today, the prestige of the language has sunk to rock-bottom in France.
The efforts undertaken either by private associations or by public bodies (especially at regional level) have helped to give Occitan a less precarious intellectual status than it had before without having any profound effect on the uses of the language. The fragile interest shown by the regional populations is beneficial to the language and Occitan culture. What is therefore needed is to transform the passive goodwill among the population of Occitania into active support.
In Val d’Aran Occitan has an official recognition
The only place in Europe where the Occitan language (Aranese, a variety of Gascon) has an official recognition is in the Val d’Aran (northwest corner of Catalonia, Spain). Occitan is spoken together with Spanish and Catalan in the Aran Valley.
Occitan language is not a threat to France
The future president of France should understand that Occitan language is not a threat to the French language. Languages are used to pass on knowledge, history, cultural and social values, and collective memory. Occitan language is an important part of the cultural heritage of Europe and it plays a vital part in keeping also French culture alive.
This article is dedicated to the news and media site Jornalet and Ferriol Macip Bonet. Happy 5th anniversary Jornalet!