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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
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