Conference Éric Forgues: Agir pour assurer la vitalité de la langue occitane, quelques pistes de réflexion - October 2013

Conference: « Une politique sociolinguistique pour l’occitan » [A sociolinguistic policy for Occitan].  Research and development of a sociolinguistic policy in the Midi-Pyrénées region in support of Occitan to ensure the survival and development of its usage.

In Occitania, for the past 20 years, speakers of the natural language are facing imminent disappearance: the family transmission of Occitan has stopped.  However, we are witnessing an awakening by a significant portion of the population to the importance of the Occitan language and culture, and collectivities are starting to implement linguistic policies.  It is within this framework that Éric Forgues, Director, Canadian Institute for Research on Linguistic Minorities (CIRLM), gave a presentation entitled: Agir pour assurer la vitalité de la langue occitane, quelques pistes de réflexion [Taking action to ensure the vitality of the Occitan language, some avenues for reflection] in Albi, Occitania, this past October 20th.

Building on his knowledge of the official language minority communities in Canada and taking into account the specificity of the French context with respect to regional languages, Éric Forgues presented the results of an analysis aimed at helping stakeholders, institutions and communities concerned about the Occitan language develop collective strategies to take actions that will ensure the vitality of the Occitan language.  Despite very different national contexts in terms of minority languages, Mr. Forgues presented some learnings from minority language experiences in Canada that could be relevant for stakeholders in Occitania.  Should their goal be to increase the number of Occitan speakers, Mr. Forgues recalled the importance of taking into account the social environment in which initiatives for passing on Occitan are developed.  The initiatives aimed at passing on language are certainly important, but it is also important to create local socializing areas in order to maintain linguistic skills.  He also encouraged the different stakeholders to work together by better coordinating their actions to develop and implement a future regional linguistic policy.  In closing, he recalled especially the importance of developing a capacity for research on regional languages, as well as the importance to have access to linguistic data.  Many guests representing the policies carried out in Occitania, Brittany, Alsace and the Basque County also took part in this conference and its resulting debates. This exchange can be used as a springboard for future collaborations between the Institute for Occitan Studies and the Canadian Institute for Research on Linguistic Minorities.