Our regional language

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La lenga occitana, la lenga d’ací *

Occitan Restaurant
Occitania encompasses all the regions where a Lenga d'òc dialect (or Occitan) is spoken. This Romance language, spoken in southern France, Italy’s Guardia Piemontese and the Alpine valleys bordering France, and Spain’s Val d’Aran, lies at the heart of the Neo-Latin linguistic area.

The first recorded use of the expression “Lenga d'òc” dates back from 1304 in the words of the Italian poet and writer, Dante. Then, in the XXth century, it starts appearing again under its derived version: “Occitan”. Another term, “Provençal”, is also used to designate the Occitan language until the beginning of the XXth century.
Occitan comprises numerous dialects due to the absence of a unified oral standard: Gascon, Auvergnat, Languedocien, Limousin, Provençal and Vivaro-Alpine. 
At first, our territory being under Roman rule, Latin was adopted by the local people. Then, following the fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century and the Barbarian Invasions, Latin slowly evolved into various new dialects, Occitan being one of them.

Lenga d'òc at first was only a spoken language, but later became a literary language and finally an administrative language. Thus, between 700 and 800 AD, the first Occitan words showed up within Latin documents. The first known text phrased entirely in the Occitan idiom was written in 1002. From the 12th century onwards, Occitan became a fully-fledged literary language, filled with creativity and imbued with refined lyricism. It travelled through to the various European courts, where the wandering minstrels sang courtly love -directed to a court audience- hence earning its aristocratic stripes.

In 1539, the Edict of Villers-Cotterêts, promoted by Francis I of France, enforces French as the official language of justice and, in so doing, triggers the waning of Occitan as a literary and administrative language. This decline is confirmed during the French Revolution when French is imposed as the official language, a trend that intensifies until the 19th century.
Nowadays, various movements defending the Occitan language, together with new authors, are striving so that it is better recognised and valued. In the countryside, elderly people still speak it fluently and more and more youngsters are learning it, as is the case at the University of Toulouse. Even though this language is no longer usually passed on to the younger generations, it is still part and parcel of the culture and the language customs of the vast majority of the South of France.
* Occitan, our language down here

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