4 February 2012

Dictada Occitana

Last Saturday I participated in the Trobada Occitana at Burjassot (a town in the Valencia Metropolitan Area). As you can see in the bilingual programme (picture on the right), the event included a series of activities around the Occitan language: a speech, live music in Occitan, and obviously, the Dictada itself, i.e. a dictation where the participants have to show their level of proficiency in Occitan. This type of events are held once a year in many places around the Catalan/Occitan world, and they work as a way of showing support for the Occitan language.

So there we were, ready for the dictation. The singer of the band (Primaël) read out the lyrics of one of his songs (Companh), which were used as the text for the dication. I had hardly ever written any Occitan before, like most of the people there, but the words of the lyrics were easy to understand. Below you can see a photo of the three winners, and the funny thing is that the second from the right is actually ... me!
How is it possible for some Catalan/Valencian speakers like ourselves to be able to understand and write in Occitan at a more or less decent level, without having learnt or practiced any Occitan before? The answer is easy: both languages are closely related. Some authors have gone beyond that idea, proposing that Catalan and Occitan are, grossly speaking, two varieties of the same language. The truth is that centuries of separation, and a series of historical events, particularly the expansion of Spanish and French in the corresponding territories, have created a linguistic scenario that differs strongly from Medieval times. In fact, the number of people who speak Occitan in France is low, and declining, and the language has no official status. However, the idea of an Occitan/Catalan unity is at least a beautiful dream,  a mirage, one that would include a vast area with cities like Bordeaux, Marseille, Clermont-Ferrand, Toulouse, Barcelona or Valencia.

In any case, going to that Occitan dictation was such a cool thing to do! And I even got a prize.

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