Learn Occitan!

To learn Occitan is to learn the literary language of Europe in the Middle Ages. This language of the Troubadours was the first literary language after Latin and the fall of the Roman Empire.

Lying somewhere between French, Spanish and Italian, the term Occitan refers to up to a dozen or more distinct dialects spoken in southern France, northern Spain and the westernmost part of Italy. In fact, linguists disagree on exactly how many dialects there are. It is difficult to define where one dialect ends and another begins. Languedocien, Nicart, Limousin and Provencal are just some of these dialects. Other languages of the region such as Gascon and Catalan are also very closely related.

The greatest difficulty in learning Occitan comes from the incredible lack of learning materials. Even with hundreds of thousands of native speakers there are very few resources to learn this rich and expressive language.

Orbilat This is an overview of Occitan with a fairly extensive grammar.

Occitanet This site has a grammar course, although it is in French. This is one of the few sites that has any Occitan audio. Look for the dialogues that are available here, but there are also lots of broken links.

This site contains basic grammar and vocabulary.

Teach Me Occitan
This is the only commercial product dedicated to learning Occitan available in English. Linguashop makes their language teaching software method in a variety of uncommon languages and thankfully, the Languedocien dialect of Occitan is one of them, although I wish they had the Provencal dialect - it's my favorite!

The software is easy to use and easy to customize. It comes with audio cd's and a small booklet. It is reasonably comprehensive and provides a good foundation for any language.

Other Resources to Learn Occitan

PanOccitan.org This site is in French, but it is very simple to use some of its features. The Imagier page has a neat mouse-over feature on the pictures which lets you instantly hear the vocabulary word spoken by a native speaker. There is also a verb conjugator and other features you can use, even if you can't read French.

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"To rescue from oblivion even a fragment of a language which men have used and which is in danger of being lost—that is to say, one of the elements, whether good or bad, which have shaped and complicated civilization—is to extend the scope of social observation and to serve civilization."

- Victor Hugo

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