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Thread: The 55 Languages of France?

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    The 55 Languages of France?



    That's the claim made by Graham Robb in his book "The Discovery of France". Of course, one man's language is another man's dialect. Still...

    Also interesting is his claim that at the time of the Revolution only 11% of the population spoke French, and even in 1880 the total was only 1 in 5.

    Given the centralization of French governance, the lack of legal protections for minority "languages", and the dominance of Paris, it's a testament to the importance of one's "cloche" to the French (a concept similar to the "campanilismo" of the Italians) that these languages survive at all.

    He also discusses in it the cultural divisions in France, particularly the south/north one which is so obvious if one has ever spent any time there. Of course, these distinctions are lessening with increasing mobility.

    The distinctions are genetic as well, but there are very few papers that address it.

    Anyway, here's a review of it. It's available on amazon.
    http://www.edwest.co.uk/uncategorize...se-in-history/


    Non si fa il proprio dovere perchè qualcuno ci dica grazie, lo si fa per principio, per se stessi, per la propria dignità. Oriana Fallaci

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    interesting an a bit simplified, by example concerning the limits North-South; dialects: the big dialects of romance origin are about 15-20 in facts but every dialect can be divided in a multitude of subdialects depending upon criteria as always
    funny the print error "cloche" for "clocher" ("bell" in place of "bell tower", "campanile"): "l'esprit de clocher", "chauvinisme local"
    'clocher' (bell tower) << celtic gaulish *klok (rock) >> welsh clog- gaelic clach >> penglog breton klopenn (klog-penn) = "skull" - clegyr, kleger : "stone place" "natural stones / rocks heap"
    # 'clocher' (verb) << latine 'claudicare'

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    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    Also interesting is his claim that at the time of the Revolution only 11% of the population spoke French, and even in 1880 the total was only 1 in 5.
    This assertion is false!
    South half of France spoke actually languages rather different from French, but all the North spoke the same language (with some exceptions: a part of Brittany, Alsace and the Moselle).
    The differences of dialects which exist in the North are relatively minor, they are essentially words pronounced slightly differently.
    They understood perfectly French.
    If these figures were true, my great-grandparents would be considered as not speaking French, because speaking Gallo!
    But Gallo is a French dialect that has kept the old forms.
    The passage from one to the other is very easy!

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    No need to get so excited. Similar claims have been made on this forum to the effect that most Italians didn't speak "Italian" at the time of unification. As I said in summarizing some of the claims in the book, one man's (or woman's) dialect is another person's language.

    Sometimes this stuff is carried to absurd lengths, although it doesn't sound like that's what he's doing. (I'll let you know after I read the book.) I wasn't allowed to speak any dialects growing up, so all I really speak is standard Italian, but if I walk into a store in the Veneto, and the clerks are speaking in dialect, I'll understand a lot of it. It would be less in the south, but even with those dialects, I could learn them pretty easily if pushed to it.

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    I don't speak "gallo" but know its principal features; true "gallo" has some different rules for grammar even if not very numerous; if three generations ago it was easy enough to a gallo speaker to understand a standard french speaker, it was far more uneasy to a big town standard french speaker to understand gallo!
    even in gallo there are different pronunciations, it is not new in dialects.
    Yes gallo is a form of french (at origin a form of 'angevin romance'), yes gallo is often closer to old french than today standard french but it does not signify standard french was spoken by a majority of people in 19° century!
    concerning interunderstanding, even Oïl dialects are/were very unseasy to understand in some regions (not only gallo -the true dialect, not the "français patoisé"- but lorrain, picard, sud-poitevin...)
    just some precisions
    not a matter to have an heart attack...

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    I wish, I could find a map for Turkish like this

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    maps are beautiful and this one makes sense, even if we can divide some conventional zones by very important phonetic splits in some regions; all the way dialects were not a fixed thing, some slow evolutions were still occurring the past century, a competition between influence zones and also a continuation of phonetic tendancies effects linked to substrata (spite the credo of some structuralist scholars concerning fixation of phonetic changes; but here we are opening the door of dialectology: a huge univers!!!

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