Western Europe: What Native Languages Are Spoken in France?

Montleek: Robert, is it possible that in Western Europe, the regional lects have been preserved better, while in eastern Europe are preserved worse? There was communism/socialism in Eastern Europe, therefore more tendency not to continue speaking with regional lect.

In France, the regional lects are the langues d’ oil (still spoken, believe it or not!), Occitan, Breton, Alsatian, Franconian, Arpitan, and Flemish.

With Arpitan, Alsatian, Occitan and the langues d’oil, you can definitely get to the point of having a different lect in every major city if not every town in some cases.

There are a number of languages split through these regional lects. There are probably at least 10 full languages in the langues d’oil, ~20 in Occitan and Arpitan, five in Breton and more than one in Alsatian. The Flemish spoken in France is a separate language from that spoken in Belgium, hardly intelligible to a Belgian.


Filed under Belgium, Celtic, Europe, France, Indo-European, Indo-Hittite, Italic, Italo-Celtic, Italo-Celtic-Tocharian, Language Families, Linguistics, Moselle Franconian, Occitan, Regional, Romance

4 responses to “Western Europe: What Native Languages Are Spoken in France?

  1. I’ve read a rather intriguing theory that the extinct Aquitanian language was the last relative of Basque. I have no idea how plausible that is.

  2. Mountleek

    And it’s quite problematic that there are five Breton languages. The official written version is probably quite alien to actual speakers. Then they don’t use the written form and extinction will probably speed up. Or maybe not. I t depends on how people speak among themselves. I wonder, how much it is possible nowadays to maintain a spoken language throughout generations, that is different from the environment, where a written language is different.

  3. AngryRussian

    There was communism/socialism in Eastern Europe, therefore more tendency not to continue speaking with regional lect.

    This is obviously not true. There are at least Belarusian and Ukrainian, and the latter is very well alive if not aggressive. There is Slavic Macedonian. These three are direct creations of Communist regimes. There are Hungarian speakers in Slovakia and Romania and the Rusyn speakers in Slovakia. Vojvodina is full of state-supported minorities.

    There are a bunch of languages and nations all over the former USSR with their own autonomies which were created and reared by the communists, often from a scratch (many small tribes hardly even had writing). The other question – the language of Soviet cities was Russian, and with mass urbanization, Russian has been much more useful for minorities than their own local rural languages, so many non-Russians speak Russian now. But the state always supported languages.

    Western Europe has never been even close. There is no and most probably will never be Bavarian, Occitan or whatever autonomous republics there (though the UK and Spain are more progressive in that respect).

    However, Poland has not been friendly with Kasubian and Silesian, and in Latvia, Latgalian has been reduced to a mere Latvian “dialect,” and Finnic Livonian is effectively dead.

    • Mountleek

      Yes, probably every vountry is different. France is, as we know, quite aggresive towards other languages, for example.

      I still think that the strength of regional lects is overrated. How many people in Belgium actually speak Wallon? Some middle aged nad older people in the countryside, and on top of that, only in some situations? Maybe they start using Wallon when they enter middle age? But still, people who move into cities will not speak Wallon, there is no occasion to use it.

      I believe that in Switzerland, the local German dialects are strong though.

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