Learning and transmitting the language

La lenga occitana, the Occitan language

Occitan, or langue d’oc, is this Latin language spoken in eight regions of the South of France (not including Roussillon and Basque country). Occitan is also spoken in twelve Alpine valleys in Italy and in Val d’Aran, in Spain. It includes six dialects : Languedocien, Provençal (Nice included), Gascon, Limousin, Auvergnat and Vivaro-Alpin.

One of the first attestations of the “langue d’oc” term is by Dante Alighieri, who, in De Vulgari eloquentia, classes the Romance languages according to the way to say yes in each of them (oïl, oc, si). The terms "Occitan", "Occitan language" and "Occitania", attested at the end of the 13th century, remain rare in use until the beginning of the 20th century. They were popularized by the pro-Occitan movement.

During the Middle ages, Occitan is used in literature but also in the writing of administrative documents. François 1er’s Villers-Cotterêts edict (1539) symbolically marks the advent of official French at the very same time Occitan is superseding Latin as a usual written language for good.

During the 20th century, the langue d’oc acquired unified spelling inspired from the medieval texts. This spelling, referred to as classical or Occitan, reduced by writing the differences between dialects whilst still respecting the originalities of each. In Provence, another written form called mistralienne remains common beside the classical writing form.

Massive schooling at the end of the 19th century will lead little by little, until after the Second World War, to the interruption of family transmission of the language through the implementation of a huge linguistic conversion to French. As a counterpoint, literary and cultural movement actions develop for the promotion and the conservation of the Occitan heritage. These actions include developing the use of the language in the media, institutions, and teaching organizations and in everyday life.

Jean Sibille, Université Paris-VIII

Passing the language on to keep it alive

Passing on the language is using it to speak to one’s children. It is an easy approach but an essential one for the durability of a language, which is, in Occitan’s case, rarely passed on to youngsters in the family environment.

Passing it on in the family

Passing the language on in the family is the most effective way of saving a language. If you speak Occitan, either because you were spoken to in it when you were a child or because you learnt it yourself, speaking two languages at home can represent the following for your children :

  • The possibility of becoming bilingual, with all the cognitive advantages of bilingualism.
  • The assurance of a better start in their scholar course : a bilingual child has a better conscience of what a language is ; this helps the child comprehend school.
  • More possibilities of finding a job later on, either with Occitan or a similar language.
  • The possibility to meet people from different horizons, to open up to others.
  • The possibility to discover two different worlds with different lore, filled with stories and songs, and the possibility to have fun in both languages.

If you have grandchildren it is of course not too late. Speak to them at an early age ; it’s an ideal manner of creating a special relationship ! If you don’t master Occitan too well, you can also pass on the will to learn and the love of the language through songs and stories… CDs and books will help you with this. Your children will later be able to learn the language in school and will be well prepared.

James Costa, Institut National de Recherche Pédagogique

The Basics of Occitan pronounciation


i The i is pronounced the same way as in French or as in English (like mist) : un nis, de ris.

u The u is also pronounced as in the French la lune (and not “oo” like in Spanish !) : la luna.

a The tonic a keeps the same pronunciation as in English (apple) : un pastre, un cat. It is generally pronounced “o” when at the end of a word (or preceding the letter s) : una cadièra, una camisa.

è The è has an “open” pronunciation resembling the “ai” of air : un mantèl, un castèl.

e The e, however, without an accent, is pronounced like the French “é” café : negre, irange.

o The o is pronounced like in the English verb to do : un ostal, lo solelh.

ò With a grave accent, it is still pronounced like in the English word often : un estilò, un bòsc.

Groups of vowels


When two vowels are written side by side (ex : sound, oyster), they will both be pronounced following the above indications. Una glèisa, un peis, lo coide. The u in a diphthong is exceptionally pronounced like the “o” of the English verb to do : una taula, lo teulat.


When three vowels are written together, all three are pronounced successively. Suau, bueu, fiau.

Specific consonants

lh The group of consonants lh is pronounced like in the French escalier : una fuèlha, una botelha.

nh The group of consonants nh is the equivalent of the French “gn” (montagne) or the Spanish “ñ” (viva España) : la montanha, una castanha.

Some common phrases

According to regions and dialects, you will find different expressions and translations for one same idea. It is up to you to recognize or to choose which suits or is used in your area.

Welcome Benvengut ! (La) Benvenguda ! Planvengut ! Planvenguda ! Chabatz d’entrar !

Hello Bonjorn ! Adieu ! Adieussiatz !

Pleased to meet you ! Encantat ! Encantada !

How are you ? Va plan ? ‘Quò vai ben ? Com’ vas ? Cossí vas ?

What’s new ? Qué de nòu ? Qué dises ?

I’m fine thank you. And you ? So so. Soldiering on. Va plan. Va ben, mercés. E tu ? Aital aital. Sens mai. Pòt anar. Cal far anar.

See you soon A lèu. Al còp que ven. A l’aut’ còp. A reveire.

Take care Porta-te plan. Pòrta te ben. Ten-te fièr.

What’s your name ? Cossí te dison ? Coma te sonas ?

My name is... Me dison ... Me sòni ... M’apèli ...

Where are you from ? (Where do you live ?) D’ont siás ?

I’m from… Soi de... Siáu de…

What can I serve you ? Qué volètz ? Qué prendretz ? Give me a beer, please. Balha-me una cervesa / bièra, sens te comandar / Se te plai / Seràs brave. Would you like some ? Ne’n vòles ? Pass me some. Pass on. Fai virar ! Yes. No. Thank you very much. Òc. Non. Mercé plan. Merci hèra. Grand mercé.

You’re welcome (My pleasure !) Amb plaser !

Good evening Bonser or Bon vèspre

Good night Bona nuèch / nuèit.

See you soon ! Bye ! Goodbye ! A lèu ! Adieu ! Adieussiatz ! Adishatz ! A reveire.

Good luck Bon astre !

Cheers ! To your good health ! A la bona santat ! A la nòstra !

Bon appétit Bon apetís !

Bon voyage Bon viatge !

Let’s go ! Anem ! Zo !

I don’t understand Compreni pas

Can you repeat ? O pòdes tornar dire ?

Do you speak Occitan ? Parlas occitan ?

Yes, a little Òc, un pauc / una mica

How do you say… in Occitan ? Cossí / Coma se ditz ... en occitan ?

Pardon / Excuse me Perdon ? Desencusa ? M’excusaràs ?

How much is a coffee ? How much does that cost ? Quant es ? Quant fa ? Quant còsta lo cafè ?

The bill, please. Lo compte. La nòta. L’addicion. (sens vos comandar.)

What time is it ? Quina ora es ? Quala ora es ? Quant es d’ora ?

It is ten minutes to noon. Es miègjorn manca dètz. Es mieidia manca dètz.

Where are you ? Ont siás ? Onte siás ?

Where are the toilets ? Ont son los comuns ?

Will you dance with me ? Vòles dançar amb ieu ?

You are handsome / pretty ! Qué / Coma siás polit(da) !

I love you. T’aimi. T’estimi

Let me be ! Laissa / Daissa-me estar !

I miss you alot. Me siás fòrça de manca

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Polit Nadal e bona annada. Bònei Calendas

Happy birthday Aürós / Bon anniversari !

One language is not enough Una soleta lenga basta pas jamai

Until next year. If there are not more of us, let there not be less. (Said towards the end of the year). A l’an que ven, que se siam pas mai que siguem pas mens.

Learning Occitan

The teaching of the language is in full progression. There are several Occitan courses, for everyone, starting at a young age and including evening lessons, schools or universities.

Adult lessons

Nowadays, a diversity of Occitan lessons, workshops and intensive courses exist. 05 53 41 32 43 • contact@aprenemloccitan.com www.aprenemloccitan.com

State schools

From Nursery school

Taught as a living language or as a teaching language in bilingual sections with equal hours (several non linguistic subjects are taught in Occitan), Occitan has its place in primary schools. In Occitan valleys of Piedmont (Italy) and in Val d’Aran (Spain), Occitan is commonly taught in schools.

In secondary schools and high schools

Occitan is taught as a living language in many secondary and high schools of the Occitan region. It is possible to sit Occitan exams for the baccalaureate as a 2nd or 3rd language or as a complimentary or optional living language…

At university

Three or four-year degree, option, living language, preparation for examinations, all this is possible in Toulouse, Montpellier, Pau, Aix-en-Provence, Limoges, Clermont-Ferrand, Nice, Poitiers, Bordeaux and even abroad (Baltimore, Barcelona, Naples, Vienna…) 04 67 66 33 31 • mjvb@wanadoo.fr www.felco-creo.org

Calandreta immersive schools

These are associative schools under contract with the State. Teaching and courses are the same as in State schools but everything is in Occitan, from a young age and in two Calendreta secondary schools. 04 67 06 81 10 • confederation.calandretas@wanadoo.fr www.calandreta.org

Institute of Occitan Studies (IEO) : words and action

The IEO strives for Occitan to have the recognition deserved for this great European language.

The IEO commits itself to creating a better situation for Occitan in media, teaching and public life.

The IEO takes action in order for the Occitan culture to be a lively and contemporary, creative and innovative culture whilst living up to its thousand-year-old history.

The IEO is an associative network with 1500 members and 45 employees ; it is a federation of 37 local and regional sections in France, but also in Spain and Italy.

The IEO is a member of the European Network to Promote Linguistic diversity (NPLD) and of the French Committee of the European Bureau for Lesser Used Languages (EBLUL- France).

The IEO federation is also :

The first Occitan teaching network for adults,

Occitan language socialisation through economy and everyday life (Paginas-occitanas.com, Emplec.com, Òc per l’occitan certification label) ;

The first publisher – distributor of the Occitan book, IEO-IDECO, activity also developed by the federated associations ;

A toponimic heritage service and a service to help implement bilingual signs,

Translation and linguistic advice services,

Occitan oral heritage collecting services ;

Numerous festivals and Occitan cultural events,

More information on : www.ieo-oc.org

Membership slip

Become a member of the Institut d’Etudes Occitanes !

Surname, First name :

Address :

Post Code :

Town :

Phone number :

E-mail :

Membership includes subscription to Anem Occitans magazine ! (4 issues per year)

 30 € - individual membership.

 12 € - students and unemployed.

 38 € - couples and associations.

 I would like to donate in support of IEO’s actions ……… €

The IEO is recognized as being of public use ; you will therefore benefit from a tax reduction of 66% of the amount donated (60% for donations from companies).

Cheques should be made out to IEO National (11 rue Malcousinat. 31000 Toulouse 05 34 44 97 11- direccion@ieo-oc.org - www.ieo-oc.org)

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