Unofficial Languages of France

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Unofficial minority languages of France Although France is a signatory to the European Charter for Regional Languages, it has failed to ratify because to do so would be in contravention of the current French constitution. In any event, it has been official French state policy since 1539 to promote French to the detriment of the other regional languages. This primer only focuses on languages native to France so it excludes languages such as Portuguese and Arabic (in all its forms) spoken by large
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  Unofficial minority languages of FranceAlthough France is a signatory to the European Charter for Regional Languages, ithas failed to ratify because to do so would be in contravention of the current Frenchconstitution. In any event, it has been official French state policy since 1539 to promote French to the detriment of the other regional languages.This primer only focuses on languages native to France so it excludes languages suchas Portuguese and Arabic (in all its forms) spoken by large but more recent immigrantcommunities.Some of the languages are spoken by very small minorities (such as Franco-Provencal, Ligurian, Picard) whilst others (such as Alsatian, Basque, Breton, Catalan,Corsican, Flemish, Luxembourgeois, Occitan) are more or less dominant in their respective regions. Given the relative importance of the latter group of languages,they are the subject of separate primers and are not directly covered here.AlsatianSee The Alsatian Language Primer.BasqueSee The Basque Language Primer.BretonSee The Breton Language Primer.CatalanSee The Catalan Language Primer.CorsicanSee The Corsican Language Primer.FlemishSee The Flemish Language Primer.Franco-Provencal Not to be confused with Provencal, which is a variant of Occitan, Franco-Provencalis a Romance language (also known as Arpitan) born in eastern France andSwitzerland now spoken to varying degrees in France, Switzerland and Italy. Franco-Provencal never achieved the importance of French, Italian or Occitan and has littleofficial protection outside the Aosta Valley (near Turin) in Italy. However, in recenttimes the language has declined significantly and is on the UNESCO endangered list.Official figures put the number of speakers at around 100,000 but some studies haveindicated that it is significantly lower and declining at such speed that the languagecould become extinct in the coming decades.LigurianThe language is a Romance language that is very distinct from the other Romancelanguages spoken in France and has definite Italian features. In addition to beingspoken along the Southern Mediterranean Coast of France (near Nice), it is spoken in   pockets of Northern Italy (Liguria, Northern Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna), on theislands of Corsica and Sardinia and in Monaco. Indeed the local variety, known asMunegascu, has been adopted as an official language. It is, however, very difficult tocome up with reliable statistics as to the number of active speakers and all signs pointto the language being in a very precarious state.LuxembourgeoisSee The Luxembourgeois Language Primer.OccitanSee The Occitan Language Primer.PicardClosely related to French, and often mistakenly taken for a French dialect, Picard isspoken in Picardie, the Pas-de-Calais as well as in parts of Belgium (it should not beconfused with Walloon, which is a separate Romance language). Due to itsgeographical proximity, Picard has been heavily influenced by modern French but isnevertheless very distinctive in particular phonetically speaking. Although it has noofficial recognition in France, Picard has been recognised as a regional language byBelgium’s French Community since 1990. Although by no means extinct in the sensethat it is very present in regional culture, the language is being increasingly confusedwith regional French and ever fewer people are able to speak it. How bad the situationactually is remains unclear as reliable statistics are very hard to come by.
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