Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Display:
In any event, it is hard to fathom why Cohn-Bendit finds it important to highlight this issue, which is at best a non sequitur as far as today's France goes (noting in passing that the regional language movement in France has typically been a traditionalist, right-wing endeavour, and certainly not a progressive one. It is hard enough to ensure that French schoolchildren learn in equal measure, in the hardscrabble suburbs as opposed to the cushy neighbourhoods of western and central Paris, proper French)

Well, if that's the left's attitude, it's small wonder that people who value their regional languages have to turn to the right. Ever thought of it like that? I think it is a fault of the left to continuously underrate what most people wish in their local surroundings in order to feel at home.

Schoolchildren can easily learn a regional language AND French properly, by the way.

by Katrin on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 03:24:20 PM EST
Tread lightly, you're criticising the Jacobinism inherited from the French 3rd Republic.

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 03:27:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's much older. Dates back to the French revolution (when more than 50% of the French spoke "minority" languages).
by Katrin on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 03:32:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But the current French state doesn't even try to claim continuity beyond 1870.

I'm sure you know this story. I was introduced to it my a French language teacher who didn't see the way that speakers of regional languages might feel equally "oppressed" by the French state's insistance on monolongual schooling into 3rd Republic "Frenchness".

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 03:44:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the fight for universal public education was a long one and wasn't won in France until roughly a century after the Revolution when Jules Ferry drove it. Financing was (and is) always an issue in what was (and is) a bourgeois republic. At the time of Daudet's story (Daudet being, and I don't know if you intended the irony, an Occitan speaker and writer) probably half of all the french soldiers fighting the Prussians were illiterate.

Suffice to say that I doubt very much any Occitan, Provençal or Breton public school students woke up one day to learn they were no longer going to be taught in Occitan, Provençal or Breton, but instead were going to be instructed in the French language. Why? Because there was no such thing as an Occitan, Provençal or Breton public school.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 04:05:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You're still fighting the battles of the 19th century... In so many ways.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 04:28:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Please do tell.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill
by r------ on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 04:29:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You're still fighting the battles of the 19th century... In so many ways.

"We" is the commonly accepted first-person plural pronoun in English.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 06:36:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The French left is still divided between Jacobin (authoritarian central state) and Girondin (federalist) tendencies. If those underlying attitudes are still relevant, should they not be expected to create debate?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 02:40:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Clearly, not all of us. Some would have us believe those battles of the 19th century have been fought and were definitively won.

Don't believe your lying eyes!

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 04:27:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
what you mean "we", Kemo Sabe?

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 04:53:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We didn't win last time. All we got was a 25 year armistice. But some seem to believe that a permanent victory was earned - that the right wing is operating fundamentally in good faith and with respect for the postwar social contract. Daniel Cohen-Bendit appears to be among them.

That belief is a pernicious fantasy. And whatever the merits of the regionalist vs. centralist debate on the French left (of which I am ignorant and thus reserve judgment) redstar is absolutely both right and correct to call out DCB for propagating pernicious fantasies.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 07:45:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is nothing in the thread (either in DCB's commentary, Mélenchon's reply or Redstar's gloss) which indicates this "good faith" position. What is clear is that DCB is arguing in favour of the European and infra-state levels, and that Mélenchon and Redstar are arguing for abandoning both and retrenching to the nation-state. This is what I refer to as the 19th century battles.

Certainly, the argument that energy can be fixed by nationalising it is a caricature of this sort of reflex. I'm inclined to agree with DCB that dismembering EDF is a prerequisite to attaining a sustainable future.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 08:09:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is nothing in the thread (either in DCB's commentary, Mélenchon's reply or Redstar's gloss) which indicates this "good faith" position.

Point.

Counterpoint:

If you want to begin the energy transition, there is one thing to do: break the monopoly of EDF.
[...]
If you enacted a 0.1% tax on every phone call happened in Europe, in addition to the tax on financial transactions, these could generate, according to calculations, between 50 and 80 billion euros per year that would go into Europe's coffers. There it is, the necessary room for maneuver - at the European level, not impoverished states which compose it!
[...]
Yes of course! When you hear Jean-Luc Melenchon castigate American imperialism, do not you hear the speech the hollow Communist Party diatribes against NATO in the 1950s?

This is all pernicious nonsense. In order:
  • Breaking the vertically integrated utilities is a subsidy to GazProm and a jobs program for the City of London, as has been explained in great and well-illustrated detail on this blog over the years.

  • Treating the financial transaction tax as a revenue-generating measure is a fundamentally right-wing narrative on two levels:
    1. It sets up the financial transaction tax for failure, because a successful FTT would minimise revenues, by selecting the local revenue minimum where it renders the greatest volume of spurious transactions unprofitable while imposing the lowest burden on legitimate transactions. And attempting to maximise revenues will not only miss the whole point of a FTT, it will likely prove far more difficult than a proper implementation.

    2. It feeds the right-wing narrative that the sovereign has to "finance" its outlays either through borrowing or taxation. This is flatly untrue, and propagates the very hard-money quackery which has lead us into this crisis and which, if perpetuated, will destroy the European Union, and very possibly the whole of the European democratic tradition.

  • Asserting that questioning the wisdom of European NATO membership is inherently Unserious is a pernicious Atlanticist talking point. It is, in fact, not at all obvious what benefit Europe accrues from NATO membership and it is even less obvious why this question should be met with shrill rebuke. Unless it is because those who refuse to entertain the question do so to avoid revealing that they have no convincing answer.

What is clear is that DCB is arguing in favour of the European and infra-state levels, and that Mélenchon and Redstar are arguing for abandoning both and retrenching to the nation-state.

What is clear is that the European inter-state level is fundamentally broken and that key parts - chiefly the monetary union and the inner market in services - need to be rolled back and their rebuilding put on hold pending much more activist federal fiscal and industrial policy. Actual fiscal and industrial policy, not the neoliberal la-la-land fiscal and industrial non-policy we have been treated to since Maastrict.

Forging ahead on the current institutional foundations will blow Europe apart (perhaps literally as well as metaphorically), not further the cause of European integration. We've passed the point where that train wreck could be avoided, now it's a search, rescue and salvage operation to preserve as many parts of the European federal structure as we can. And the first step in any salvage operation is triage: To identify which parts can be salvaged, which parts are irretrievably damaged, and which parts must be jettisoned because they present a clear and present danger. The common currency belong firmly and obviously in the last group.

What is also obvious is that DCB does not understand any of this.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 08:51:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Diary?

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 09:13:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Clicky.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 10:06:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is only strange if you think of history as "progress".

These battles were fought in the past and will be fought again and again long after we are all gone.

by cagatacos on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 06:33:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
properly learn four of five languages other than their own. But, priority should be given to languages which allow us to communicate with other Europeans...German, English, Spanish, Dutch in the northern part of France, Italian in the south-eastern...this is also the reason for the hostility to regional languages: there are better uses for public money.

It should be noted that we are talking about resources for teaching languages that no one living, in the main, has spoken for now a couple of generations, unlike say Catalan or Basque. Regional living languages are great...it's just that there aren't really any here in France anymore, and that's been true for 50 years, no matter how much has been spent rehabilitating and teaching them.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 03:47:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Early bilingual education helps immensely in learning a third language later in life. It rewires the brain funny or something.

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 03:49:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No doubt it helps in learning a "second" language later in life as well.

Thanks to Swedish being an official second language here in Finland, school children learn it early on. Then, of course, comes English, as well as an opportunity to learn Russian or German. Consequently, everyone in the family (except Mom who is 80 and only speaks Finnish and Swedish) speaks at least three languages, regularly and fluently. A love of languages was built into these folks at any early age, and learning a new one doesn't seem to be a problem.

Unlike when I went to school and foreign languages were only offered as an elective course, these days I understand some schools in California are now doing things differently. Beginning in preschool/kindergarten these schools are instructing their young students in Chinese, Spanish and English concurrently. And, in situations where students have a Mom and Dad that speak different languages, suggesting further that one parent address the child in one language, and the other parent in another language. While this may seem like it would be confusing and overwhelming to a child, apparently it works out well as they pick up all the languages presented with equal ease. Simply amazing!

by sgr2 on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 10:48:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
sgr2:
And, in situations where students have a Mom and Dad that speak different languages, suggesting further that one parent address the child in one language, and the other parent in another language.

One language per parent is quite common in bi-language families in Sweden today. Also schools and day care offers instruction in a wide range of "home"-languages for children who has an extra language from their home.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Thu Apr 12th, 2012 at 08:35:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
in France. We've done away with all languages except for the official one (defined as such in the Constitution).

Ordinary linguistics doesn't apply in France; nor does common sense, at least in that respect.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Thu Apr 12th, 2012 at 09:00:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, careful with the public money... ;-)

It's false. Resources put into the cultivation even of tiny languages is well invested. The plurality and mutual respect are worth it. Children who get no formal education in their native language face more difficulties in learning any other language. We are not only talking about indigenous languages, this is true for immigrants' children too.

by Katrin on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 04:00:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
immigrants.

But again, when we are talking about Occitan, we are not talking about a native language. No one speaks Occitan in France as a native language. Ditto Breton or most of the other regional languages in France. It's sad, but that boat sailed a century ago. So, de-emphasizing the teaching of regional languages in France simply does not deprive children in France from learning in their native language, which is either French or the language of their country of origin.

We're not talking about resources invested in regional languages, either, we're talking specifically about them in the context of public schools. There are other ways to invest in mostly dead regional languages than teaching them in the public schools.

Cohn-Bendit is simply being ridiculous, here.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 04:18:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You're flat-out wrong about Occitan. Your ignorance is astounding.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 04:26:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
speakers under the age of 65 there are in France today?

If you can, and it is more than a rounding error of the percentage of people in Languedoc-Roussillon, PACA, Rhône-Alpes, Auvergne and Aquitaine combines population, then I will consider your criticism legitimate.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 04:41:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You find it easier to concede the point for immigrants' languages than for indigenous ones, don't you? Funny.
by Katrin on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 04:51:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
more native eight-year-old Kabyle, Portuguese or Chinese speakers in my neighbourhood than there are native eight year old Occitan speakers in the whole of France.

We are talking about the present and future, and not the past. I apologise to all if by insisting on talking about the challenges being confronted by real working people rather than some set of people who existed generations ago this somehow makes me a "reactionary". I just don't see it.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 05:02:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, and in other neighbourhoods there are more speakers of breton or corsican or whatever. And they are real working people too. Probably some immigrants' children speaking Arabic and Occitan and French and in this order.
by Katrin on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 05:28:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There are no multitudes of Occitan or Breton speaking youths anywhere in France.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill
by r------ on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 06:31:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Crowd cross-section at Front de Gauche rally in Toulouse last Thursday 5 April:

Crowd cross-section at the Occitan rally in Toulouse the previous Saturday, 31 March:

While the Front de Gauche crowd looks on balance younger, there is a fair mix of generations in the Occitan crowd. Making out that there are nothing but a few very old people speaking Occitan is simply untrue.

Mélenchon drew a bigger crowd, but the Occitan crowd was all the same 20,000 according to the police, 30,000 according to the organisers.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 02:29:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
European Tribune - Daniel Cohn-Bendit: Yesterday's man?
the regional language movement in France has typically been a traditionalist, right-wing endeavour, and certainly not a progressive one

What contact have you had with, for example, the Occitanist movement today?

redstar:

No one speaks Occitan in France as a native language.

Yes, they do. They are old people now, but I personally know quite a number (and among in-laws in my family) who learned and fluently spoke Occitan at home and in their local environment before being taught French at school.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 04:29:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Probably quite old.

And yes, I also know some provençal speakers, I lived for quite some time in the south, but none of them were native speakers, you could take it at school as a language.

I know no one in the Occitan movement, and while I'm sure they are quite admirable in their aims and motivations, I still need to say this is simply not an important issue, and my reference to Cohn-Bendit's musings here as a non-sequitur is meant to underline that very fact. Let me see...talk about the financial crisis, or talk about Occitan...what should one prioritise? Well, we see what DCB prioritises, and I simply think he is ridiculous for doing so.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 04:38:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But your history of regional language use patterns is wrong, and your characterisation of regional-language supporters as rightwing reactionaries equally.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 04:45:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Re the last point, take a look at this actually far-right reactionary site for whining about how they were excluded from the 31 March Occitan rally.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 02:48:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
and, I may add, Arpitan (improperly called franco-provençal) is of similar stqtus, and I have similar experience of it.

the 19th century doctrine of stamping out regional languages, by punishment and shaming, has filtered down to the point where it's relatively rare to meet young people competent in their regional language.This has left those regions culturally impoverished,and linguistically handicapped. My experience is that those who first learned French at school,and still speak the regional language, tend to speak and write French impeccably; their children, who understand the local language but don't speak it, speak strongly accented French couloured with borrowings from the local language.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 04:50:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes. Learning languages is only one side of the argument though, the other is respect for diversity.
by Katrin on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 04:55:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But an important foundation for learning a new language is motivation, and if there is a context in which a regional language is motivating for students then money spent there actually allows them to learn something. As opposed to spending money getting students to sit through classes.

Knowing languages also makes it easier to learn more languages, so no efficiency is not a reason to suppress local languages. The reason instead tends to be that language is one of the cornerstones of modern (19th century and onwards) national identity. France is in no way alone in this, finnish and sami languages was once banned in and around schools in Sweden. All nationstates can probably present similar stories. Speaking the languages of other colonial powers (not to mentioned the pointless ancient greek and latin) was on the other highly approved as this was something upper and (depending on period) middle class people did.

Anyway, I think the reason DCB mentions this is that he is positioning himself as Green as localist in contrast to a soc-dem/communist socialist tradition of centralism. I think the greens as a movement has more or less always done that, it is one of the groups founding identity-markers - not centralist like the red parties.

All in all I find the interview unsurprising. "He is a centralist communist, and not as good environmentalist as us Greens" is exactly how I would expect a leading Green politician to comment on a competitor from left of the soc-dems. Constructive? No, politics is not constructive, it is an endless repetition of group identities - They are not us!

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 04:20:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
be criticising on that basis. But why now? Is he trying to gain votes for Joly? I don't think so, he's been undermining Joly as well.

No, I think he's really all about himself here, Dany the Red, getting more media attention, having really nothing to offer but the spectacle of himself on the television or in the newspaper yet again, nothing new to say. It would be nice if he spent half the time beating up on Le Pen or Sarkozy as he has on Mélenchon or Joly.

On the issue of regional languages, are their native Sami speakers still? If so, then of course Sami-language schooling should be offered by the State.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 04:28:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
redstar:
Is he trying to gain votes for Joly?

No, he's for the "vote utile" for Hollande in the first round.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 04:35:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
redstar:
Sure, that's understood that DCB would (none / 0) be criticising on that basis. But why now? Is he trying to gain votes for Joly? I don't think so, he's been undermining Joly as well.

No, I think he's really all about himself here, Dany the Red, getting more media attention, having really nothing to offer but the spectacle of himself on the television or in the newspaper yet again, nothing new to say. It would be nice if he spent half the time beating up on Le Pen or Sarkozy as he has on Mélenchon or Joly.

Good points.

redstar:

On the issue of regional languages, are their native Sami speakers still? If so, then of course Sami-language schooling should be offered by the State.

Sami languages - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Native speakers: Approximately 20,000-30,000[citation needed]  (date missing)

The variants that has survived are taught at least in Sweden, Finland and Norway (don't know about Russia). But then again nowadays minority rights are recognised as long as they are not some outlandish claim like getting their land back (with all those minerals, timber and hydro resources), cause that is not going to happen.

But I did some checking, and according to wikipedia Occitan is a much bigger language then Sami.

Occitan language - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Native speakers: 2,000,000  (1999)[1]

Is this false?

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 04:45:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
which includes Catalan. The crushing majority of those Occitan speakers reside in Catalunya.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill
by r------ on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 04:52:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was personally surprised to see the prevalence of Catalan idioms when vacationing around Carcassonne and Toulouse a few years ago. I had been under the impression that it had been wiped out.

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 04:56:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I doubt if the number given there for Occitan includes Catalan. And though Catalans do hold strongly for their language (which is part of the Occitan group, but don't tell the Catalans that), many people elsewhere across southern France (and even in non-Catalan northern Spain, in the Val d'Aran) speak Occitan.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 04:59:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is listed as an official language of Spain.

I don't think we're talking one of the French Occitan dialects here, clearly we are talking Catalan.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 05:06:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Occitan language - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Occitan (English pronunciation: ˈɒksɨtən,[4] Occitan: [uksiˈta] or [utsiˈta]),[5] known also as Lenga d'òc (Occitan: [ˈleŋɡɔ ˈðɔ(k)]; French: Langue d'oc), is a Romance language spoken in southern France, Italy's Occitan Valleys, Monaco, and Spain's Val d'Aran: the regions sometimes known unofficially as Occitania. It is also spoken in the linguistic enclave of Guardia Piemontese (Calabria, Italy). It is an official language in Catalonia, Spain (known as Aranese in Val d'Aran).[6] Occitan's closest relative is Catalan.[7] Since September 2010, the Parliament of Catalonia has considered Aranese Occitan to be the officially preferred language for use in the Val d'Aran.

Catalan is mentioned as the closest relative, not as coming under the heading "Occitan". And the Occitan officialised in Spain is the (Gascon dialect) Aranese of the Val d'Aran.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 05:15:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"native speaker" mean? Are you and I native French speakers, for instance?

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill
by r------ on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 05:27:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You claim the "Occitan" category includes "Catalan", but that is not the case. Why are you changing the subject?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 01:05:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
claims two million native speakers.

If Catalan is not included, either the article has a far different definition of native speaker than is normally meant by the term.

There is in way 2 million native speakers of Occitan (not including Catalan), unless they are counted people who have learned a bit of it in school since it was re-introduced or know a little expressions (which even I know a few).

I think in this case, the wikipedia article is either false or higly misleading and will be looking for a more official source.  

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 02:22:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Official" source? From the French anti-regional-language state?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 02:32:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
To see what France understands as regional or minority languages, I went to the Council of Europe. I just checked that France signed but has not ratified, and therefore is not applying, the Council of Europe's Charter on Regional and Minority Languages which pretty much exempts France from the need to actually enumerate any protected languages. It signed with a declaration
Declaration contained in the full powers handed to the Secretary General at the time of signature of the instrument, on 7 May 1999 - Or. Fr.

France intends to make the following declaration in its instrument of ratification of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages:

  1. In so far as the aim of the Charter is not to recognise or protect minorities but to promote the European language heritage, and as the use of the term "groups" of speakers does not grant collective rights to speakers of regional or minority languages, the French Government interprets this instrument in a manner compatible with the Preamble to the Constitution, which ensures the equality of all citizens before the law and recognises only the French people, composed of all citizens, without distinction as to origin, race or religion.

  2. The French Government interprets Article 7-1, paragraph d, and Articles 9 and 10 as posing a general principle which is not in conflict with Article 2 of the Constitution, pursuant to which the use of the French language is mandatory on all public-law corporations and private individuals in the exercise of a public service function, as well as on individuals in their relations with public administrations and services.

  3. The French Government interprets Article 7-1, paragraph f, and Article 8 to mean that they preserve the optional nature of the teaching and study of regional or minority languages, as well as of the history and culture which is reflected by them, and that the purpose of this teaching is not to remove from pupils enrolled in schools on the national territory the rights and obligations applicable to all those attending establishments providing the public education service or associated therewith.

  4. The French Government interprets Article 9-3 as not opposing the possible use only of the official French version, which is legally authoritative, of statutory texts made available in the regional or minority languages, by public-law corporations and private individuals in the exercise of a public service function, as well as by individuals in their relations with public administrations and services.                                                        
The preceding statement concerns Article(s) : 1, 10, 7, 8, 9


There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 03:30:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
then, given the many inconsitencies of the wikipedia article (for instance, a language with "2.000.000" native speakers is in the same frame where that claim is made that four of the six dialects of occitan (representing the vast majority of said "native speakers") "severely endangered".

How can a language with 2.000.000 native speakers be severely endangered? There seems to be a bit of Marseillais exageration going on here; no doubt the wikipedia entry has been created by members of the regionalist movement, about as reliable in terms of facts as the putatively anti-regional language French state (though this latter fact is debatable as, it is also true, Breton, Provençal and Corse is taught in French public schools).

Noting in passing that while I did not live nearly as long as you have in the south, I did live five years. And I can count the number of times I heard provençal spoken in the regular course of the day (and not among a gathering of provençal enthusiasts, which I have also attended) on one hand. And I take the point to heart and find it admirable that there is such a movement, as long as it remains peaceful (which, as you know, as regards both Breton and, especially, Corse, is not always the case) for recognition of regional culture, but the simple fact of the matter is, and this is what Mélenchon was referencing, there have been attacks of terrorist nature on the part of partisans who militate for regionalism including language rights, and these attacks are certainly not progressive in nature (which Mélenchon also pointed out). The way forward is not the past, where people actually did speak these languages in the regular course of their day, though I note the supreme irony of being accused of "fighting again the battles of the 19th century" when pointing this out.

I also note the irony of a blogging community which, all the while rightfully jumping on the fact that European states and America take Anders Breivig style terrorism less seriously than terrorism of the islamic strip, itself turns a blind eye to terrorism in the name of regionalism, because terrorism there is. And the people I know, and I know quite a few (the Corsican community in Toulon and La Seyne is quite large and active), including my ex-father-in-law, who sympathise with the most offending of such movements, the Corsican one, are to a man on the right, not the left. Not one of the Corsican radical movements is progressive in nature.

Let's deal with the reality of such movements as they in the main act politically, shall we? And not an idealised form we would like to believe exists.  

I find it ironic that in  

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 03:47:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It does not help recruiting people to the left when you tell people that a left-wing, progressive ideology requires the State to suppress their use of their mother language.

This discussion is still had in Spain, where otherwise sane people will argue Catalan schoolchildren are disadvantaged by a bilingual education.

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 04:21:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I wholeheartedly agree that this is a very politically relevant point in many places, and Spain is surely one such place.

France is not, in my considered opinion.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 04:26:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
redstar:
How can a language with 2.000.000 native speakers be severely endangered?

Because, as those "native speakers" are doubtless older people who did in fact learn the language first or concomitantly with French as children, they are gradually disappearing. Which is why some younger people want to keep the practice of the language alive.

As for tarring the entire linguistic movement with the terrorism brush, that just doesn't hold. Corsica apart, there have been practically no attempts at violence in the Occitan or Breton regions for decades. ETA is (was?) a separate Spanish-based phenomenon. Support for regional languages != independentism.

redstar:

I also note the irony of a blogging community which

Why can't you stop sniping?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 04:26:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Plus, in Spain, support for regional languages has a broad left base, due to the fact that the authoritarian jacobin policy (linguistic and otherwise) was carried out by Franco's regime.

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 04:30:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Curious use of the term jacobin in this context.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill
by r------ on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 04:31:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The fact is, in their consideration of people's differences, there isn't much distance between Jacobinism and Francoism.

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 04:40:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That may be true, but of course there are far more points of diversion, and far more important ones, than this one similitude. Not to mention the vast historical remove.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill
by r------ on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 04:42:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But in this context...

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 04:45:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why can't I stop sniping?

Because I'm not Jesus Christ, nor would I want to be. When the object of personal insult (I am not refering to you here or many other worthy criticisms, but read the thread, there are a number of unwarranted and frankly immature insults to be found) I do not tend to turn the other cheek.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 04:30:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What's more you're not being nice to Bertrand.

;)

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 04:32:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ha! I knew of all people you would catch that!

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill
by r------ on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 04:33:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have to say I still find it exceptionally hard to believe there are 2.000.000 native Occitan speakers, so I looked more closely at the entry provided. I note that the vast majority of these "native speakers" (1.3M, follow the link from the Occitan page) are listed as Auvergnat speakers.

And what is the population of Auvergne? 1.3M, most of them not over the age of 65.

There is no way on earth that all of Auvergne speaks Occitan. In fact, of all the regions of France outside of PACA and Ile de France, Auvergne is a place I know well (Haute Loire, Puy-de-dome, Clermont, et c.), and I have not once heard Auvergnat spoken, so clearly not everyone is a native speaker there.

So, the wikipedia entry is, at least on this account, clearly not credible.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 04:53:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If Catalan were included, the number would be far, far higher. See Wikipedia for numbers of Catalan speakers.

I don't find 2 million Occitan speakers an extraordinary claim. One may quibble about the meaning of "native speakers" -- those who learned it as their first language are now over 65. But the >65 population of the French regions where Occitan is spoken is well over 4 million. (Insee).

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 03:23:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You could have followed the footnote to the number of speakers in the wikipedia rticle...
_«De fait, le nombre des locuteurs de l'occitan a pu être estimé par l'INED dans un premier temps à 526 000 personnes, puis à 789 000,» ("In fact, the number of occitan speakers was estimated by the French Demographics Institute at 526,000 people, then 789,000") Philippe Martel, "Qui parle occitan ?" in Langues et cité n°10, décembre 2007.
How that turns into 2 million speakers in the article infobox is a mystery to me...

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 05:02:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not at all sure the 2m number is correct. My points are that it doesn't include Catalan speakers, and that the number of over-65s in the Occitan-speaking regions places it within the bounds of possibility.

As for INED, there is not much credence to accord to the survey that concluded on 526,000 speakers before correcting that number by 50%. The source quoted ("Qui parle occitan?" (pdf)) outlines the inconsistency of the survey (which left out several Occitan départements, including the one I live in). The sentence before the quote says:

Bref, du point de vue quantitatif, il y a peu à attendre d'une telle enquête.

(In short, from the quantitative point of view, not much can be expected from such a survey)

The article is not the source of the 2m number (which is not discussed on the Talk page). So it's true it's a mystery.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Apr 12th, 2012 at 03:41:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Arpitan language, or group of dialects was the primary language from the Lyonnais region eastwards, covering the Dauphiné and southern Burgundy, with pockets of locutors in Switzerland and Italy.

Currently there seem to be a negligeable number of young locutors in France. In contrast, oral transmission is still alive and well in Italy (it's an official language in Aoste) and in certain areas of the Valais in Switzerland.

I'm sure Redstar thinks the survival of the language in Italy and Switzerland is a Good Thing. I'm also sure he thinks its extermination in France is a Good Thing.

French exceptionalism.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Thu Apr 12th, 2012 at 05:05:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
but when shown by ASKOD the link, I followed it and was immediately drawn to the 2 millions figure for Occitan native speakers.

Further, I have a prejudice in that I take the term "native speaker" to mean that the language is an idiom that one grew up with and used extensively (thereby gaining fluency) in the regular course of the day (in the family circle, in school and with schoolmates, in other social interactions). Outward signs of this would be siblings addressing each other interchangibly in both idioms, for instance, sometimes not recognising they are doing so as they shift seamlessly, sometimes in mid-sentence, from one the the other, as my children do. In this sense, I am not a native French speaker for while I did grow up in a household parts of which were francophone and spoke it (in my case, my grandparent's generation on my mother's side, with whom I lived nearly every summer until a teen), it was not an idiom which I would normally speak at all, and certainly not with my siblings, schoolmates, parents et c. And by this token, even though you are absolutely fluent in french, neither are you.

So, when I combine this perspective of "native language" with the statement of the wikipedia entry "2M," I immediately think, erroneously as it turns out, that this must include Catalan, as there is no way there are 2M native Occitan speakers, in my sense of the term, in France and including everywhere else (the wiki entry also claims speakers in California, for instance, which I find exceptionally hard to believe).

Now, I do know a fair amount of people who have some fluency in Provençal and who are not very very old...they took it as an elective in school, or they learned it in associations many of which have been as you know created since Frédéri Mistrau's day. Also some corsican speakers. But these are not, to my mind, native speakers - they speak the language much as I speak the Spanish I learned in school, some well, a lot not so well. And, I knew two people who were properly native (in my sense of the term) speakers - they are both now dead.

Asking to be excused the circumlocutions here, I in no way meant or mean to denigrate the admirable aspiration to bring regional languages to life in France, these are good efforts, by in many cases good people, though in no way can the movements behind this admirable cause be described, in the main, as progressive, and indeed many of them are quite the opposite (as is often the case in movements which strive for a "return to the past," this comment not intended as being political - not all people yearning for re-invigoration of, say, Corsican as an idiom want to go back to those pre-industrial times when Corsican was the idiom on that island.

The question that comes out of this part of the thread (but which I did not ask) seems to be whether or not these idioms should get more active state encouragement, via subsidies or greater emphasis in the public schools. In the former, I think they are equally meritous as other private initiatives which seek government funding (youth organisations, municipal-funded or subsidised holiday camps, sports associations, e. tc.). In the latter, however, I think it would be a mistake to emphasise more than is already the case regional languages in the public schools, as one of the keys to the growth of a properly European (and not national) sense of citizenship is the ability to communicate with one another, in each others' languages which people in the EU do speak, and in this sense then I would say getting funding for establishing options in major languages not commonly taught in French schools, like Polish, Arabic, over Chinese.  

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Thu Apr 12th, 2012 at 06:27:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There's a fair question about the use of state resources. My take on it is that more state resources are needed for education. Telling kids they can't do Occitan as an optional third language at school because the budget has gone (to undeniably worthy needs) elsewhere, or that they have the choice of their parents paying for private education, looks to me like the kind of destructive arbitrage the right would carry out.

Re native speakers:

redstar:

the language is an idiom that one grew up with and used extensively (thereby gaining fluency) in the regular course of the day (in the family circle, in school and with schoolmates, in other social interactions)

That is exactly what I've been talking about for the >65s, with the exception of "in school" because that was in French.

What's more, there is a generation, now 40-60, that grew up in that environment and understand the language well, but are not in the habit of speaking it because it was understood during their childhood that they should speak French, where the "future lay". Not that entire age-group, obviously, much more the rurals among them, but I know a number of such people.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Apr 12th, 2012 at 08:06:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sami languages were repressed at least to the 70ies I think, with most success in the post-war period when societal service expanded and industrial jobs were plenty and well-payed. With beginning in the 80ies there was a shift in policy towards education in native languages and perhaps more importantly education in all sami-speaking schools (naturally with education in Swedish as well). Now even Ume-Sami with about 20 native speakers is a target of an effor to teach it so that it is not lost.

So roughly, there are old people who learned the languages before repression was effective, middle-aged who learnt a bit at home but were taught not to use it and used Swedish in the new environments they arrived in, and young who have learnt it from grand-parents and in the schools.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Thu Apr 12th, 2012 at 12:52:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
redstar:
Further, I have a prejudice in that I take the term "native speaker" to mean that the language is an idiom that one grew up with and used extensively (thereby gaining fluency) in the regular course of the day (in the family circle, in school and with schoolmates, in other social interactions).

At last, I understand how you could persuade yourself that there are no native speakers of Occitan.

If it is necessary to "speak it in school and with schoolmates" to be a native speaker, while living in a country where its use in school was banned for a century, then by definition, there are no native speakers.

Very neat, logically speaking.

Also very totalitarian.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Thu Apr 12th, 2012 at 08:15:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Please stop. This is embarassing. For you.

This is where unthinking doctrinaire Jacobin/Lenininist centralism leads. Score a point for Dany.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 05:02:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think it's that fair to accuse Lenin of language centralism... That happened in the USSR only during Stalin's part.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 05:22:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I do find your content-less attacks embarassing, however.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill
by r------ on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 06:29:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Display:

Occasional Series