OCCITAN IN MIDI-PYRÉNÉES, FRANCE
11-11-1997
http://www.uoc.es/euromosaic/web/document/occita/an/e1/e1.html
Institut de Sociolingüística Catalana
Occitan in Midi-Pyrénées, France

1. Introduction

Occitan is one of the largest minority language groups in Europe. It has been estimated that over three milion people can manage a conversation in the language and that over two million use it at home. Its territory is vast, covering a third of France. Given the size of this territory the problem of sampling and representation are vast. Faced with this situation the survey was undertaken in the region of Midi-Pyrénées (capital Toulouse, though this city and its immediate surroundings were excluded from the sampling area because of the very low observed levels of Occitan) with the intention of giving an adequate representation of language use by speakers in one specific area. However readers are warned that the results can in no justifiable way be generalised to the whole territory where Occitan is spoken.

The fieldwork was undertaken by a team recruited and supervised by the Université Toulouse-Le Mirail, in early 1996. The questionnaire was discussed with the supervisers, and shortened both in the range of situations in which data were requested, and in interviewees jobs, as this was regarded as a pointless exercise in view of the totally marginalised position of what is still widely known as the patois.

Though they were instructed to recruit active bilinguals, some of the interviewers had only a passive knowledge of Occitan, though in all cases their attitude was positive. The sampling sites were chosen to cover all the departments in the region. 281 subjects were interviewed.

2. Ability and Language Group Endogamy

Table 1 gives us an indication of the extent of language group endogamy and also an indication of the extent of ability, and inter-generational process or language production/ non-reproduction:

TABLE 1: FRENCH AND OCCITAN LANGUAGE

ABILITY OF FAMILY MEMBERS

FRENCH:

 

Very good

Quite good

Some

None

NA

Father

222

42

7

3

7

Mother

225

44

6

3

3

Brother

141

24

1,00

2,00

113,00

Sister

160

23

3

1

94

Mat GPs

161

54

25

18

23

Pat GPs

152

52

23

17

37

Partner

-

-

-

-

-


 

Very good

Quite good

Some

None

TOTAL

Father

81%

15%

3%

1%

274,00

Mother

81%

16%

2%

1%

278,00

Brother

84%

14%

1%

1%

168,00

Sister

86%

12%

2%

1%

187,00

Mat grandparents

62%

21%

10%

7%

258,00

Pat grandparents

62%

21%

9%

7%

244,00

Partner

-

-

-

-

-

OCCITAN:

 

Very good

Quite good

Some

None

NA

Father

131

54

37

54

5,00

Mother

124

54

39

63

1,00

Brother

31

24

46

66

114,00

Sister

43

30

46

66

96,00

Mat GPS

170

34

12

48

17,00

Pat GPS

161

24

16

50

30,00

Partner

53

26

56

68

78,00


 

Very good

Quite good

Some

None

Valid cases

Father

47%

20%

13%

20%

276,00

Mother

44%

19%

14%

23%

280,00

Brother

19%

14%

28%

40%

167,00

Sister

23%

16%

25%

36%

185,00

Mat GPS

64%

13%

5%

18%

264,00

Pat GPS

64%

10%

6%

20%

251,00

Partner

26%

13%

28%

33%

203,00

It is evident that even two generations ago the extent of French was widespread, and that by the generation of the parents of the respondents those who were not entirely proficient in French were few in number. On the other hand the data for Occitan suggests that there is a considerable extent of language group exogamy, even for the grandparents of the respondents with about 20% of the partners being involved in marriages where one or other did not speak Occitan. Furthermore, by the respondents generation more siblings spoke no Occitan than had some knowledge of the language. Since almost half of the respondents had not lived outside of the municipality of current residence and that fewer than 10% had lived outside of Occitanie, this is somewhat surprising. The partner also tended to be from within the region, with only 18% having lived outside the region during their life. Furthermore, only 39% of the respondents with partners claimed that their partner spoke Occitan 'very well', or 'quite well' while a further 28% spoke a little. The geographical mobility of the parents was also limited, with less than 15% of the mothers and 18% of the fathers having lived outside of Occitan for any period. That is, there is little relationship between language group endogamy and Occitan geographic endogamy.

TABLE 2: ASPECTS OF THE RESPONDENTS' OCCITAN AND FRENCH ABILITY

OCCITAN:

 

Understand

Speak

Write

Read

Very good

124,00

85,00

22

38,00

Quite good

88,00

62

31

78

Little

52,00

77

42

84

None

16

56

185

80

 

Understand

Speak

Write

Read

Very good

44%

30%

8%

14%

Quite good

31%

22%

11%

28%

Little

19%

28%

15%

30%

None

6%

20%

66%

29%

 

100%

100%

100%

100%

FRENCH:

 

Understand

Speak

Write

Read

Very good

252,00

257,00

246,00

246

Quite good

25

23

32

27,00

Little

3,00

0

2,00

1

None

0,00

0

0,00

6,00

 

Understand

Speak

Write

Read

Very good

90%

92%

88%

88%

Quite good

9%

8%

11%

10%

Little

1%

0%

1%

0%

None

0%

0%

0%

2%

 

100%

100%

100%

100%

Table 2 gives clearer picture of competence. Among the respondents very few have other than a complete competence across all the dimensions in French. On the other hand a substantial proportion - 20%- of the respondents could not speak the language, and a further 28% spoke little Occitan. The figures for reading and writing suggest that the extent of literacy in Occitan is limited, with only 19% claiming and adequate writing ability and 41% a comparable ability with reference to reading. This is not surprising given that only 14% spoke Occitan as their first language and a further 31% spoke both French and Occitan as their first language. For the remainder either French or another language was the first language. Thus the sample consists of an extremely limited number who have a high degree of competence across the range of abilities.

Given what has been said above about the abilities of the different generations by reference to the respondents, the figures in table 3 are hardly surprising:

TABLE 3: LANGUAGE OF RESPONDENTS' PARENTS

 

Number

%

Occitan only

57,00

20%

Occitan more than French

45,00

16%

French more than Occitan

53,00

19%

French only

115,00

41%

Other

8,00

3%

NA

3,00

1%

They indicate that more half of the respondents (55%) reported that their parents spoke to each other, when the respondent was a youngster, in Occitan or Occitan and French. However, fully 41% spoke only French with each other.

3. Language Use in the Family

Table 4 throws more light on the preceding data. It indicates that the level of exclusivity in the use of Occitan in the family when the respondent was a child was extremely limited, and that the majority of respondents were raised in families where French was the sole language, though the use of Occitan with grandparents is sizeable. This indicates the limited extent to which the language has been subject to reproduction since, as we shall, see the extent of community use is equally limited.

TABLE 4: LANGUAGE USED BY RESPONDENTS

WITH FAMILY MEMBERS AS A CHILD

 

French

French & Occitan

Occitan

Other

Not appl.

Meal time

212,00

49,00

14,00

0,00

6,00

With mother

161,00

46,00

15,00

3,00

56,00

With father

148,00

50,00

12,00

1,00

70,00

With partner

139,00

30,00

12,00

0,00

100,00

With children

144,00

31,00

2,00

0,00

104,00


 

French

French & Occitan

Occitan

Other

N

Meal time

77%

18%

5%

0%

275,00

With mother

72%

20%

7%

1%

225,00

With father

70%

24%

6%

0%

211,00

With partner

77%

17%

7%

0%

181,00

With children

81%

18%

1%

0%

177,00

We have already indicated that the ability of the partner of the respondent in Occitan is limited. for the 67% of the partners who had some ability in Occitan we find that 19% spoke only Occitan with their father while a further 18% spoke both Occitan and French with their father. The figures are similar for communication with the mother. On the other hand only 2% spoke Occitan only with their children while a further 13% spoke both languages with their children. The rate of inter-generational non-reproduction is significant. The figures for communication with other relatives lies between these two sets of figures.

TABLE 5: PARTNER'S LANGUAGE USE WITH FAMILY MEMBERS

 

Occitan

Occ & Fr

French

Other

Total cases

Father

26,00

24,00

70,00

4,00

124,00

Mother

24,00

25,00

73,00

3,00

125,00

Children

3,00

18,00

104,00

0,00

125,00

Other relatives

16,00

27,00

82,00

0,00

125,00


 

Occitan

Occ & Fr

French

Other

Total cases

Father

21%

19%

56%

3%

124,00

Mother

19%

20%

58%

2%

125,00

Children

2%

14%

83%

0%

125,00

Other relatives

13%

22%

66%

0%

125,00

Given the information in table 5 it is hardly surprising that children use so little of the language together (table 6). None used only Occitan and only 7% used any Occitan.

TABLE 6: LANGUAGE OF CHILDREN TOGETHER

 

No.

%

Occitan only

0,00

0%

Mainly Occitan

0,00

0%

Occitan and French

4,00

1%

Mainly French

17,00

6%

French only

260,00

93%

It already seems to be case that Occitan is, by and large, excluded from family life. This is reflected in table 7. Occitan on its own is used at meal time only by 5% of the families, and it should be remembered that this question spans generations. Similar percentage use Occitan exclusively with parents and partner but considerably less with the children. The same discrepancy is evident by reference to a mixture of Occitan and French but with less use of this mixture with the partner. Thus Occitan is used by 23% of respondents at meal time, mainly mixed with French. It appears in 27% of the cases with the mother and father, in 23% of the cases with the partner and in 18% of the cases with children. What we do not know is the nature of the relationship between French and Occitan in the cases where both languages are used.

TABLE 7:LANGUAGE OF THE HOME

 

French

Fr & Occ

Occitan

Other

Not appl.

Meal time

212,00

49,00

14,00

0,00

6,00

With mother

161,00

46,00

15,00

3,00

56,00

With father

148,00

50,00

12,00

1,00

70,00

With partner

139,00

30,00

12,00

0,00

100,00

With children

144,00

31,00

2,00

0,00

104,00

 

French

Fr & Occ

Occitan

Other

N

Meal time

77%

18%

5%

0%

275,00

With mother

72%

20%

7%

1%

225,00

With father

70%

24%

6%

0%

211,00

With partner

77%

17%

7%

0%

181,00

With children

81%

18%

1%

0%

177,00

The relevance of using Occitan for opening telephone conversations is extremely limited as is revealed in table 8.

TABLE 8: LANGUAGE USED TO OPEN TELEPHONE CONVERSATION

 

At

home

At

work

Always in Occitan

1,00

0%

1,00

1%

Occitan and French

3,00

1%

4

0%

Mostly French

10,00

4%

6,00

3%

French only

174,00

63%

124,00

70%

Merely 'Allo'

90,00

32%

45,00

26%

NA

3,00

 

101,00

 

4. Language Use in the Community

The contrast between what the respondents evaluate as the past use of Occitan and the current use presented in table 9 is quite startling. Whereas almost three quarters claimed they often heard Occitan in the streets in the past, this only applies to about a quarter of the respondents at present. The same difference applies to the other contexts, with the frequent use in shops reducing from 37% to 11%, in church from 18% to 5%, and in societies from 15% to 10%. As many as three quarters claim that they never hear Occitan in the Church, 62% claim they never hear Occitan in voluntary associations, and 35% claim they never hear it in shops. While Occitan is still heard in the range of contexts it is clear that there has been a profound change in use across all contexts within the memory of the respondents.

TABLE 9: PAST AND PRESENT USE OF OCCITAN IN THE COMMUNITY

PAST:

 

Streets

Shop

Church

Socs

Often

204,00

104,00

51,00

42,00

Sometimes

41,00

88,00

42,00

34,00

Rarely

19,00

41,00

39,00

31,00

Never

16,00

47,00

147,00

173,00

NA

1,00

1,00

2,00

1,00


 

Streets

Shop

Church

Socs

Often

73%

37%

18%

15%

Sometimes

15%

31%

15%

12%

Rarely

7%

15%

14%

11%

Never

6%

17%

52%

62%

NA

0%

0%

1%

0%

PRESENT:

 

Street

Shop

Church

Socs

Often

74,00

32,00

13,00

29,00

Sometimes

104,00

63,00

24,00

39,00

Rarely

70,00

87,00

33,00

39,00

Never

33,00

99,00

211,00

174,00

NA

0,00

0,00

0,00

0,00


 

Streets

Shop

Church

Socs

Often

26%

11%

5%

10%

Sometimes

37%

22%

9%

14%

Rarely

25%

31%

12%

14%

Never

12%

35%

75%

62%

NA

0%

0%

0%

0%

Current participation in Occitan cultural activities is limited (table 10). The most popular activity involves musical activity, something which does not insist upon a profound knowledge of the language. Fewer than 20% of the respondents claimed even a minimum of involvement in the other three activities. The number involved in such activities on a regular basis is small.

TABLE 10: FREQUENCY OF INVOLVEMENT IN OCCITAN CULTURAL ACTIVITIES

 

Regularly

Sometimes

Rarely

Never

NA

Occitan theatre

7,00

15,00

15,00

159,00

85,00

Occitan music

20,00

54,00

30,00

92,00

85,00

Occitan poetry

8,00

22,00

21,00

145,00

85,00

Rock music

3,00

12,00

9,00

172,00

85,00

 

Regularly

Sometimes

Rarely

Never

N

Occitan theatre

4%

8%

8%

81%

196,00

Occitan music

10%

28%

15%

47%

196,00

Occitan poetry

4%

11%

11%

74%

196,00

Rock music

2%

6%

5%

88%

196,00

Table 11 gives an indication of the tendency for networks to be structured by reference to language and of the extent of overlap between ability and use among members of social networks, at least as perceived by the respondents. The very fact that over a third of the respondents are unable to assess the proportion of even friends who can speak Occitan gives a clear idea of the limited use of the language in such circles:

TABLE 11: LANGUAGE OF SOCIAL RELATIONS

a. ABILITY:

 

All

>50%

50%

<50%

Few or none

NA

Friends

10,00

18,00

27,00

45,00

74

107

Shop

3,00

5,00

15,00

27,00

129

102

Sports

3,00

5,00

8,00

13,00

60

110

Culture

5,00

11,00

11,00

19,00

72,00

163

Neighbour

32,00

34,00

28,00

46,00

55,00

86,00


 

All

>50%

50%

<50%

Few or none

Friends

6%

10%

16%

26%

43%

Shop

2%

3%

8%

15%

72%

Sports

3%

6%

9%

15%

67%

Culture

4%

9%

9%

16%

61%

Neighbour

16%

17%

14%

24%

28%

b. USE:

 

Occ always

Occ>Fr

Fr = Occ

Fr>Occ

French always

NA

Friends

4,00

8

17,00

50,00

94,00

108,00

Shop

1,00

0

9,00

20,00

156

95,00

Sports

1,00

1

9,00

11,00

77

100,00

Culture

2,00

6

13,00

13,00

90

157,00

Neighbours

7,00

12

20,00

54,00

101

87,00


 

Occ always

Occ>Fr

Fr = Occ

Fr>Occ

French always

Friends

2%

5%

10%

29%

54%

Shop

1%

0%

5%

11%

84%

Sports

1%

1%

9%

11%

78%

Culture

2%

5%

10%

10%

73%

Neighbours

4%

6%

10%

28%

52%

It is evident that almost half of those who responded to this question perceive themselves as living in neighbourhoods where the majority are able to speak Occitan. Similarly almost a third of respondents are of the opinion that the majority of their friends speak Occitan, and about the same proportion who attend cultural activities do so within a context where the majority are perceived as being Occitan speakers. On the other hand, fewer than 20% of those who responded would claim that Occitan is used at least as much as French in such contexts. Over half of the respondents who answered the question claimed that they only used French in all of these contexts. By reference to perception of ability, the 'most Occitan' contexts is the neighbourhood, followed by friendship networks. This order suggests that French dominates social networks more than one would expect by reference to the incidence of Occitan ability.

Table 12 gives an indication of the contexts within which Occitan tends to be used. It clearly has no context within which it has exclusivity. Furthermore, it is only in a limited range of contexts - sports, fishing, politics, cafe and restaurant that it has very much of any relevance. The two contexts which do stand out as having a fairly high use of Occitan are the family and by reference to the environment. It is evident from these figures that French dominates the lives of most people within the area.

TABLE 12: LANGUAGE OF COMMUNITY ACTIVITIES

 

Mainly Occ

Occ + Fr

Mainly Fr

Not appl.

Church

2,00

5,00

102,00

172,00

Sports clubs

2,00

11,00

66,00

202,00

Individual sports

2,00

8,00

65,00

206,00

Fishing & hunting

8,00

22,00

29,00

222,00

Theatre visit

3,00

5,00

68,00

205,00

Theatre group

3,00

5,00

36,00

237,00

Gymnastics

1,00

1,00

40,00

239,00

Politics

1,00

15,00

72,00

193,00

Cafés / bars

5,00

39,00

83,00

154,00

Restaurant

1,00

18,00

155,00

107,00

Visiting friends

2,00

75,00

117,00

87,00

Environment

4,00

58,00

85,00

134,00

Jumelage

2,00

3,00

27,00

249,00

Garderie

1,00

0,00

44,00

236,00

Other

2,00

5,00

17,00

257,00

If the activities in which at least 40 respondents participate are ranked by the use of Occitan (on its own or together with French), it is clear that fishing and hunting (practised only by a minority), environmental issues, visiting friends and cafés and bars are the situations in which the presence of Occitan is significant. The low use of Occitan in the church is striking.

 

Occitan

Occ + Fr

French

N

Fishing & hunting

14%

37%

49%

59,00

Environment

3%

39%

58%

147,00

Visiting friends

1%

39%

60%

194,00

Cafés / bars

4%

31%

65%

127,00

Theatre group

7%

11%

82%

44,00

Politics

1%

17%

82%

88,00

Sports Club

3%

14%

84%

79,00

Individual sports

3%

11%

87%

75,00

Theatre visit

4%

7%

89%

76,00

Restaurant

1%

10%

89%

174,00

Church

2%

5%

94%

109,00

Gymnastics

2%

2%

95%

42,00

Garderie

2%

0%

98%

45,00

Table 13 gives a broader context to the ability to use Occitan and the willingness to do so. The extent of possibility appears to be extremely limited with only a few exceptions - the café, local authorities, shopping and religion. There also appears to be a greater difference between ability and willingness by reference to high-ranking functionaries and liberal professions - solicitor, doctor, dentist etc.- and some authority figures - library and police.

TABLE 13: POSSIBILITY AND ACTUAL USE OF OCCITAN

 

I can & do

I can but don't

I can't

NA

Family doctor

16,00

49,00

183,00

33,00

Dentist

8,00

38,00

187,00

38,00

Buying petrol

20,00

32,00

169,00

60,00

Buy newspaper

17,00

33,00

187,00

44,00

Police station

3,00

27,00

165,00

86,00

Speaking with café manager

40,00

42,00

120,00

79,00

Car repair

27,00

28,00

151,00

75,00

Hairdresser

27,00

35,00

178,00

41,00

Borrowing book from the library

3,00

21,00

153,00

104,00

Restaurant

17,00

29,00

182,00

53,00

Speaking to a local councillor

65,00

47,00

116,00

53,00

Shopping

43,00

39,00

159,00

40,00

Solicitor

2,00

18,00

121,00

140,00

At the bank counter

9,00

29,00

191,00

52,00

Town hall

39,00

49,00

149,00

44,00

Travel agent

1,00

20,00

154,00

106,00

Speaking with priest

24,00

38,00

111,00

108,00

Information in tax office

1,00

23,00

145

112,00

When the situations are ranked according to the possibility of using Occitan, Municipality, Speaking with café manager, Town hall, Speaking with priest and Shopping are those scoring highest (though the scores are quite low, perhaps reflecting the limited competenmce in Occitan of some respondents). Use is highest, when reported as possible, in Speaking to a local councillor and when Shopping, though in neither case is Occitan use reported by an especially high proportion of respondents. At the other extreme, Occitan appears hardly to be used by any respondents in the Tax Office and the Travel Agent: and in general, in dealings with most liberal professions.

The unavoidable conclusion is that the public use of Occitan is highly restricted.

 

Can / total

Do / can

Total

Speaking to a local councillor

49%

58%

228,00

Speaking with café manager

41%

49%

202,00

Town hall

37%

44%

237,00

Speaking with priest

36%

39%

173,00

Shopping

34%

52%

241,00

Car repair

27%

49%

206,00

Family doctor

26%

25%

248,00

Hairdresser

26%

44%

240,00

Buying petrol

24%

38%

221,00

Buy newspaper

21%

34%

237,00

Restaurant

20%

37%

228,00

Dentist

20%

17%

233,00

At the bank counter

17%

24%

229,00

Police station

15%

10%

195,00

Tax office

14%

4%

169,00

Solicitor

14%

10%

141,00

Borrowing book from the library

14%

13%

177,00

Travel agent

12%

5%

175,00

Religion:

The society appears to be fairly secular with only 11% of respondents claiming toattend church regularly and a further 25% sometimes:

TABLE 14: FREQUENCY OF RELIGIOUS ATTENDANCE

 

No.

%

Regularly

31,00

11%

Sometimes

71,00

25%

Rarely

79,00

28%

Never

100,00

36%

Within the Church Occitan appears to lack any relevance, having far less of a place than Latin, with French inevitably being the language of religious activity.

TABLE 15: LANGUAGE OF RELIGION

 

Occitan

Occ + Fr

French

Fr + Lat

Latin

Other

NA

Sermon

0,00

4,00

150,00

9,00

0,00

2

116

Public prayer

0,00

3,00

142,00

16,00

3,00

2,00

113,00

Private prayer

2,00

5,00

141,00

4,00

1,00

2

126

Bible reading

0,00

3,00

148,00

9,00

2,00

2,00

117

Hymns

0,00

10,00

114,00

29,00

10,00

2

116,00

5. Language and education

Education is a key agency both by reference to supplementing the family role in terms of reproduction and by reference to its production function. It would appear that the availability of education through the medium of Occitan is extremely limited. The vast majority of the children were and are educated exclusively through the medium of French. Only 1% stated that there was a 'calandreta' school within reach of them and a further 3% said there was such a school 'fairly close' to them.

Bearing in mind the indications of the local team, the questionnaire was adjusted so as to make just a simple reference to the possible presence of Occitan in the education of the interviewees' children, and then analyse if necessary the answers to this open-ended question. (Q21). However, since only 21 interviewees -a very small number as expected- stated that their children had not been, or were not being, educated exclusively through the medium French, no further analysis was undertaken.

The survey thus confirms the marginal role that education plays in Occitan language reproduction.

6. Language and mass media

The interviewing team felt, given the totally marginal presence of the Occitan language in all mass media, that far a sample of the size chosen, ne valuable conclusion would be reached by including items on cultural reproduction.

6. Language and work

Fewer than a third of the respondents provided information concerning the language spoken by the director of their company, primarily because most of the others claimed to be self-employed or housewives. Of these the majority claimed that the directors spoke no Occitan, and of all respondents only 6% claimed that half or more of the directors spoke Occitan. On the other hand 42% supplied information pertaining to the language of their co-workers, with most of these claiming very little Occitan-speaking ability among their co-workers. It is therefore hardly surprising that very few spoke Occitan with their directors, co-workers, subordinates or even clients. Only 5% claimed that any Occitan was employed by the administration where they worked.

In conclusion, the role that Occitan seems to play in the world of work is at best marginal, where it isn't totally absent.

7. Aspects of identity

What stands out from the data on subjective identity in Table 16 is the overlapping identities that pertain to the majority of the respondents:

TABLE 16: SELF IDENTITY

 

YES

NO

French

199,00

71%

82,00

29%

Local

184,00

65%

97,00

35%

Midi-Pyrénées

165,00

59%

116,00

41%

Occitan

134,00

48%

147,00

52%

European

132,00

47%

149,00

53%

Other

18,00

6%

263,00

94%

Clearly more respondents claim French identity than any other. For many, therefore, any other dimensions of identity are subordinate to that of the state. It is also interesting that more regard themselves as not being Occitan than those who do. That is, the idea of a relationship between the language and the space called Occitanie does not overlap. Cross tabulating the data from this question allows us to ascertain the degree of overlap between identities. As stated previously, the contradiction between the claim for French identity and either Occitan or Midi-Pyrénées is small, being 14% for the first case, that is those who claim Occitan identity but not French, and 17% for the latter. On the other hand, 38% claim both an Occitan and Midi-Pyrénées identity while 34% claim neither. The remaining 28% claim one or other but not both.

TABLE 17: ATTITUDE SCALES

Attitude statement

1,001

2,00

3,00

4,00

5,002

NA

Score3

POSITIVE ATTITUDES:

             

The Midi would not be the Midi without Occitan-speakers4

10,00

17,00

19,00

100,00

120,00

15,00

4,00

It is a good idea that some Departments and local councils give Occitan a privileged treatment5

2,00

15,00

30,00

125,00

102,00

7,00

4,00

It is essential that children in Midi-Pyrénées learn Occitan6

15,00

50,00

64,00

80,00

58,00

14,00

3,00

It should be necessary for people working in the public service in Midi-Pyrénées to be able to speak Occitan7

41,00

74,00

50,00

82,00

24,00

10,00

3,00

Occitan allows one to be promoted at work8

109,00

87,00

47,00

15,00

3,00

20,00

2,00

NEGATIVE ATTITUDES:

             

You feel considered "plouc" or inferior if you speak Occitan9

163,00

57,00

11,00

16,00

16,00

18,00

2,00

Occitan has no place in the modern world10

94,00

86,00

37,00

30,00

16,00

18,00

2,00

Occitan cannot be adapted for business and science11

44,00

77,00

66,00

53,00

20,00

21,00

3,00

Most people perceive things associated with Occitan as being out of date12

27,00

60,00

28,00

119,00

33,00

14,00

3,00

Occitan is disappearing13

23,00

38,00

24,00

122,00

68,00

6,00

4,00

To progress other languages are more important to learn than Occitan14

10,00

36,00

29,00

125,00

75,00

6,00

4,00

1. "Profound agreement"

2. "Profound disagreement"

3. 5 = complete disagreement 1 = complete agreement

4. Le Midi ne serait pas le Midi sans occitanophones

5. C'est une bonne idée que certains départements et communes privilègent l'occitan

6. Il est essentiel que les enfants en Midi-Pyrénées apprennent l'occitan

7. Pour travailler dans le service publique en Midi-Pyrénées on devrait savoir parler occitan

8. Parler occitan permet de monter en grade au travail

9. Vous sentez-vous considéré comme "plouc" ou inférieur si vous parlez occitan

10. L'occitan n'a pas sa place dans le monde moderne

11. L'occitan ne peut pas s'adapter aux affaires et à la science

12. La plupart des gens perçoivent les choses associées à l'occitan comme étant démodées

13. L'occitan est en train de disparaïtre

14. Pour progresser il y a d'autres langues à apprendre plus importantes que l'occitan

These attitude items do serve to give a picture of the perception of the language among the respondents. It does not seem that they see other languages as more important to any great degree, but neither do they feel that the language should enter public administration. On the other hand care should be taken with this second item which refers to 'privileging' the language rather than explicitly linking it to employment. The prestige element is more clearly expressed in item six where opinion seems to be split. There is some support for the idea that Occitan is unsuitable for science and 'the modern world'. The two items which seek to tap the relationship between status and language - items 5 and 11 are polarised. On the one hand the majority do see it as a sign of inferiority, but on the other hand, there is less support for the idea that the language is outdated. This contradiction is probably explained by reference to the outmoded nature of the language is expressed by reference to the perception of others 'La plupart de gens...' whereas item five makes direct reference to the respondent. There is no strong support for the idea that the language is disappearing which is surprising given the preceding discussion. At the same time there is no strong support for the need for the young to learn the language. This may well be linked to the fact that Occitan is not perceived as a defining characteristic of the Midi-Pyrénées region and the overriding French identity to the extent that this region is viewed as a region of France.

Finally table 18 indicates the opinion of the respondents by reference to the interest of different agencies and people in the Occitan language. A score of 5 indicates the highway position. As can be seen, only the respondent's own declared interest (5·98) and that of the respondent's family (5·08) come out on the positive side, and not very clearly at that. Indeed, given the small extent to which ability is translated into use by the respondents, even this must be treated with reservation.

Substantial proportions of "friends" were also positively evaluated, but even here there was considerable negative opinion. The perceived interest of regional, general and local councils varied, though it was only regard as great by a small number of respondents.Central government came out remarkably negatively, with as many as 69% stating that it is viewed as having the minimum of interest in Occitan. This perceived lack of interest was reiterated by reference to commercial activities with in-migrants, private enterprise and, especially, banks, all being viewed in negative terms by reference to interest in the language. The other negative view was the Church, which 72% of all interviewees viewed as displaying no interest whatsoever in the language.

TABLE 18: PERCEIVED INTEREST OF

VARIOUS AGENCIES IN OCCITAN

 

1,001

2,00

3,00

4,00

5,002

6,00

7,00

8,00

9,003

NA

Score

Self

33,00

7,00

17,00

9,00

64,00

13,00

20,00

30,00

80,00

8,00

6,00

Family

42,00

17,00

17,00

24,00

58,00

26,00

31,00

32,00

29,00

5,00

5,00

General Council4

31,00

25,00

23,00

36,00

67,00

28,00

15,00

31,00

12,00

13,00

5,00

Regional Council5

25,00

30,00

30,00

25,00

90,00

24,00

17,00

22,00

8,00

10,00

5,00

Friends

45,00

23,00

21,00

27,00

71,00

27,00

24,00

22,00

12,00

9,00

5,00

Local authority

58,00

27,00

30,00

21,00

46,00

30,00

22,00

21,00

15,00

11,00

4,00

Private enterprise

109,00

31,00

29,00

15,00

40,00

11,00

7,00

3,00

33,00

3,00

3,00

In-migrants

125,00

34,00

28,00

14,00

32,00

4,00

5,00

4,00

4,00

31,00

2,00

Church

145,00

22,00

15,00

8,00

22,00

4,00

4,00

2,00

0,00

59,00

2,00

(Central) government

185,00

31,00

16,00

13,00

21,00

2,00

2,00

0,00

0,00

11,00

2,00

Bank

212,00

19,00

10,00

3,00

10,00

1,00

1,00

1,00

1,00

24,00

1,00

1. "Minimum"

2. "Average"

3. "Maximum"

4. That is, the departmental or county council

5. That is, the council of the Midi-Pyrénées region

8. Conclusion

The survey presents a very negative view of the Occitan language group in the region studied, by reference to its potential for continuation. The base from which it might reproduce itself is eroding quickly and the infrastructure necessary in order to produce the language is virtually non-existent. This situation is compounded by the negative identity vis-à-vis the language and the absence of any basis for increasing language prestige as a motivational source.

©Euromosaic