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There is no standard orthography 1).
Occitan is best known as a language spoken in France, but it is also spoken in parts of Monaco, Spain and Italy. In Italy it is spoken in the Piedmont region in the upper valleys (Val Mairo, Val Varacho, Val d'Esturo, Entraigas, Limoun, Vinai, Pignerol and Sestriero). It is also spoken in the Imperia province of the Liguria region and it is perhaps spoken in Calabria in the Guardia Piemontese 2).
The exact speaker numbers are not known. The population of the Occitan region in Italy is about 100.000. However, the estimated amount of speakers across all regions where Occitan is spoken is only 218,310, with 110.000 of these speakers living in the French Occitan region 3).
In the past there have been schools that offered Occitan as a subject. At all of these schools the subject was extracurricular 4). One of the schools where it was taught, was the school of Santa Lucia di Monterosso Grana. At the school of Guardia Piemontese primary pupils and pupils at the first stage of secondary education could take up four hours of Occitan outside official school hours. This initiative received some support from the provincial authorities, from the Comunità Montana dell'Appennino and from the local authorities. In the Chisone valley there were also optional courses offered outside of school hours. The Soulestrelh association and the Saluzzo education office organized in-service courses on Occitan language and culture for teachers, but this was in 1993 5). It is unclear whether these options still exist now.
In the past finance through the government of Italy was possible, due to the laws from 1999 protecting and promoting the use of minority languages in Italy. This finance could also be used for teacher training. The idea came from the Ministero dell’Istruzione, dell’Università e della Ricerca (the Ministry of Education, University and Research) 6)
The Occitan language community has been recognized in Italy as a 'historical language minority' since 1999 7). Occitan is not recognised as a regional language in the region where it is spoken, however usage of the language is being promoted and a law ensuring so has been passed and implemented in 2009 8). The older law, from 1999, also ensures that “its usage is allowed in the administration, education, and media anywhere local authorities choose to request so” 9).
The 1999 law and recognition and promotion of minority languages was well-received and according to Van der Jeught (2016) it deserves more attention and international acclaim. He says that “it strikes an ingenious balance between issues of national cohesion and unity, protection of minorities and territorialism, involving also the local (municipal) level. Italy has managed to make a clean break with an uneasy and even violent past in this respect, and could serve as a model for other countries facing similar challenges” 10).
Italy has signed the European Charter for Regional or minority Languages, but it has yet to ratify the charter.
There are various institutes that vouch for the preservation of the Occitan language. The institutes that are based in Italy are listed below. This list was based on information from Sorosoro 11). There are many more institutes, mostly international, that support Occitan language and culture.
Teaching material for all ages is available, although perhaps this material is not always easy to find. Most of the material is already older than 10 years. A good example of a book suitable for use in primary education is "Chantar, juar e dançar: L’apprendimento della lingua occitana nella scuola dell’infanzia e primaria attraverso esperienze ludiche".
Education in the language is possible only when schools are interested. As mentioned above, there is teaching material available for all ages. However, there are very few schools that offer education in Occitan and the courses that are available are extracurricular.
Lingue di Minoranza e Scuola lists some schools and ongoing projects that focus on the Occitan language. It includes the following schools:
Online learning resources for Occitan are widely available. Most of these are from French institutions such as the Institut d'Estudis Occitans ( IEO - Learning and transmitting the language). However, there are Italian institutions promoting and preserving the language as well. Below are some links to the websites where you can find online learning resources.
The Occitan language is surprisingly present in the media. Most of the media is based in France, but there is Italian media that includes the Occitan language as well. The Occitan media coming from Italy consists almost solely of papers and magazines, therefore a seperate list was created below. This information was taken from Sorosoro 12), where you can find a list of all Occitan media.
For a more complete list including the publications issued in France and Spain, please visit Sorosoro.
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