Southern French Regional Language??? Help.

Ottawan   Tuesday, October 26, 2004, 18:31 GMT
I'm an English Canadian, who also speaks French fairly well.

My late father was born and grew up in the Gers region of southern France and his first language was the local language. At age 8 he had to go into a state orphanage, which apparently spent the next eight years literally stomping French into his head... violent punishments for using the wrong words, etc.

For the longest time, he would not even admit that he knew the old language.

When I was growing up, he taught me a few words some of which I remember... like "he' for son, "ayga" for water, and something like "ninja" for eat.

Anyway, now I have my own children now, and I would like to teach them a few words in my dad's original language as a way of keeping up some connection.

I heard that the Souther language was something called Occitan, but when I looked up some words in an Occitan-French dictionary they didn't look right to me.

Does anyone here know what the language he might have spoken could be? Can you recommend a place where I can find a few words and pronunciation?

Jordi   Tuesday, October 26, 2004, 18:42 GMT
Your father spoke Gascon, an Occitan dialect, which differs in some aspects from other more "central" Occitan dialects (such as Languedocian): "aiga" is water, hilh is "son" and "minjà" (menjar) is to eat. There are several Gascon links in the Internet. As a Catalan speaker, I speak a closely related language and I have read and listened to quite a bit of Gascon, when travelling in that area. Unfortunately, French linguistic policies have made most French languages, other than French, almost vanish. Gascon is still quite lively in rural areas although it is mainly spoken by people over 40. In villages some children are still being brought up in the old language.
Ottawan   Tuesday, October 26, 2004, 19:16 GMT
THANK YOU... I just did a quick search and did find a few sites and one word immediately jumped out at me Adichatz (goodbye) which I had forgotten about but can clearly remember him saying now.

Everybody in Canada has got some kind of hyphenated ethnic origin... I'd always been trying to figure out what mine was.

I knew I wasn't a French-Canadian, because here that means Quebecois, which is something I clearly am not. I had tried Franco-Canadian, but that didn't really work... so maybe I can be a Gasco-Canadian?

Anyway... thanks again.
nic   Wednesday, October 27, 2004, 08:54 GMT
My parents use to say "aducha" but they are form Languedoc, not form gascogne
Jordi   Wednesday, October 27, 2004, 10:15 GMT
The original classic medieval Occitan form was "adiu siatz" "soyez avec Dieu" "be with God" "good bye" (God be with you). It has also given French "Adieu" (avec Dieu).
Ottawan   Wednesday, October 27, 2004, 13:34 GMT
Jordi - from your comment I was wondering, are you saying that Catalan and Gascon are mutually intelligible? Are they two versions of a single romance language are are they two different romance languages.
Jordi   Wednesday, October 27, 2004, 16:42 GMT
To the Gascon-Canadian from Ottawa:
Catalan and Occitan are considered to be two different Romance languages by all the Universities in the world. Nevertheless, the medieval languages are much closer than the modern languages. If you read Spanish and Portuguese you will also find the written languages are also close although the spoken forms aren't. It's all about Latin evolution in neighbouring lands.
Portuguese and Spanish form the Iberian-Romanic Group whilst Catalan, Occitan and French are the Gallo-Romanic Group. French is further apart than the other two, who are more conservative. Non-cultivated speakers of Catalan and Occitan could perhaps make themselves understood up to 50% or more since they share a part of basic vocabulary and morphology can be similar. Educated speakers can usually understand both Standard forms after a few weeks of coaching. Gascon is different to the rest of Occitan dialects basically because it was influenced by a Pre-Latin language which was probably very close to Basque. For example, the loss of initial "f" (Catalan "fill" Gascon "hilh" Occitan "filh" meaning as your father taught you "son") or the fact that they pronounce all "v" as "b".
The words Gascon and Vascon (Basque) have the same root. "Gasconha" (Gascunya in Catalan and Gascogne in French) has given important historical characters such as Henry IV of France of even the Three Musketeers (who, by the way, were Gascon). In the 17th century Gascon was still the official language of Gasconha.They have an important, proud culture, and a beautiful language which has been all but erased by French centralism.
Just to give you the few examples you mentionned in your post:
Adiu siatz (Occitan) Adéu siau (Catalan)
Minjà (Gascon) Menjar (Catalan)
Aiga (Gascon) Aigua (Catalan)
These words all belong to a common old stock, that has evolved, but there are even more differences in the modern language. Furthermore, there is a diferent spelling system in Occitan and Catalan and different literatures. Catalan is very much alive and co-official(7 million fluent speakers in a small part of France and a great part of the Spanish Mediterranean regions) whilst Occitan is dying out because of French linguistic policies.
Anyway, Catalan and Occitan feel like close neighbours although most Occitans don't speak the old language any longer.
There are important Gascon and Occitan groups who are struggling to keep the old language and culture alive. What happened to your father in that orphanage has been quite common in a France that has never understood the importance of its cultures and languages.
I'm sure the Internet will help you find them. I'm sure they'll be thrilled to find a long lost son: "un hilh longament perdut"
Gee   Wednesday, October 27, 2004, 17:13 GMT
Aren't Catalan and Occitan, the same language? Only Catalan has a "Spanish" spice to it. I might be wrong, don't feel sorry to correct me :p!
Jordi   Wednesday, October 27, 2004, 17:36 GMT
I already made that clear above and will not repeat. Romance language linguists fully agree regarding the independence of Catalan and all neighbouring languages share elements. Is there a Catalan spice to Spanish? Perhaps. I can assure you Catalan is quite a distinct language to Spanish.
Pierre   Wednesday, October 27, 2004, 17:39 GMT
Is this the language your father spoke ? ...

mel - honey
Be - good
ayga - water
porta - door
tres - three
lengue - language
Planvienut - Welcome
consultar - to consult
visitar - to visit
Arcuelh - Accueil
balhar un punt de vista - Give a point of view
quauques - some ( quelques )
tanplan - elegant
la possibilitat - possibility
ací - ici

If so , I can give you some links you would certainly appriciate ...
pierre   Wednesday, October 27, 2004, 17:53 GMT

-> I meant appreciate
Ottawan   Wednesday, October 27, 2004, 18:39 GMT
WOW! Thanks again Jordi. This is well beyond what I ever expected to receive. It was very generous.

I'm starting to look into this, and it seems interesting. Apparently my surname, which is unknown here in Canada, is completely Gascon, so I'm now pretty confident that that would have been his language.

I knew about the Musketeers reference from my father, D'Artagnan was the superhero in my family when I was little. Right now, I'm interested in passing something along to my own children.

To Pierre - sorry, I don't know too many words right now, but some of them look a bit familiar. I have a vague memory of something like 'plangenut' when he wanted to say welcome. I would 'welcome' any links you could provide me.

My father really didn't use his old words very often - I remember him comparing some words with an Italian friend of his once, and in later life he taught himself how to speak Spanish fairly quickly for a trip to Mexico and he told me if was because it reminded him of how he talked as a child.

I wish I had pushed him for more information now. But I don't think many children take a real interest in their parents past until too late.
Jordi   Wednesday, October 27, 2004, 20:48 GMT
It's "planvengut" in Gascon and it means "welcome".
Guilhem   Thursday, October 28, 2004, 08:39 GMT
Jordi said,
<<"Gasconha" (Gascunya in Catalan and Gascogne in French) has given important historical characters such as Henry IV of France of even the Three Musketeers (who, by the way, were Gascon).>>

Mon amic, you did not mention Eleanor of Aquitaine, perhaps the most fascinating woman of the middle ages along with Marie of Montpellier, Ermengarde of Narbonne, and Stephania of les Baux (but maybe that is just my Southern French bias!) ;-)

Eleanor became the queen of France and then the queen of England, and was the mother of 2 kings of England: King Richard the Lionhearted and King John. In fact, King Richard spoke more Gascon than English.

"planvengut" is the masculine form (in languedocien: benvengut)
"planvenguda" is the feminine form (benvenguda)
nic   Thursday, October 28, 2004, 08:42 GMT

I understand what you mean, when i was younger my parents and grand parents, uncles... used to speak in Occitan. Because i grew 200 KM far away in Lyon where Occitan has never been spoken and because Franco-provençal is spoken. I was not really interested. It looked like a language from Mars. No, i would like to know more about it and to teach a little bet to my son.