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Revitalising Language in Provence: A Critical Approach




Revitalising Language in Provence: A Critical Approach

James Costa

ISBN: 978-1-119-24353-3 March 2017 Wiley-Blackwell 192 Pages

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Revitalising Language in Provence: A Critical Approach questions the concept of language revitalization and challenges the field’s main tenets through a detailed analysis Southern France’s Provençal movement, one of Europe’s longest standing language revitalisation projects.
  • Presents a wealth of new research data relating to revitalising language movement
  • Offers an innovative new way of problematizing language revitalisation
  • Questions the very concept of language revitalisation and challenges the field’s main tenets
  • Reveals what language revitalisation movements really stand for, what they use language for, and who the people spearheading these movements are



1. Researching language revitalisation from a critical sociolinguistic perspective

1.1. Saving authentic languages vs. inventing new ones

1.2. Language revitalisation

1.3. Language revitalisation in Academic Work

1.4. Revitalising Occitan in Southern France: Occitania and Provence

1.5. Positioning

1.6. Critical sociolinguistics

1.7. Volume outline


2. Language revitalisation: a genealogy

2.1. Introduction: investigating language revitalisation

2.2. The Precursors: antiquarians and French Revolutionaries

2.3. North American scholarship: anthropology and sociolinguistics

2.4. Descriptive linguistics and language endangerment

2.5. Language revitalisation and linguistics

2.6. Language documentation and description established

3. Defining language revitalisation

3.1. Introduction

3.2. Defi ning revitalisation

3.3. Establishing a discourse of diagnosis and remedy

3.4. Critical approaches to endangerment and revitalisation

3.5. Conclusion

4. Revitalisation as recategorisation

4.1. Introduction

4.2. Rethinking revitalisation as a social movement

4.3. Revitalisation as a conscious effort to implement social change

4.4. Revitalisation and culture change in later debates

4.5. The study of language revitalisation movements

4.5.1. Proposition 1: language revitalisation, as a social movement, is about groupness

4.5.2. Proposition 2: language revitalisation as the consequence of social contact

4.5.3. Proposition 3: language revitalisation is fundamentallya struggle over classifi cations

4.5.4. Language revitalisation is ultimately not about language or even about past linguistic hierarchies

4.6. Conclusion

Conflict in the Occitan South of France

5. Does context stink?

5.1. Introduction

5.2. The Predicament of contextualising: does context stink?

5.3. Language revitalisation in the South of France: who are we talking about?

5.3.1. Experts: legitimising knowledge and revitalisation

5.3.2. Language advocates: disseminating the revitalization narrative

5.3.3. Traditional and new speakers

5.4. Conclusion

6. What the Occitan Language movement is up against: the French Nationalist and Linguistic Project

6.1. Introduction

6.2. Narratives of Frenchness

6.3. Erasing linguistic Otherness in the Sixteenth century

6.4. Patois and the construction of citizenship

6.5. Dialectology and the linguistic making of France

6.6. The French nationalist project and the marginalisation of the South

6.7. Conclusion: a new world ready for language revivals to happen

7. Reviving Occitan

7.1. Introduction

7.2. The first ‘Occitan’ revivals?

7.3. The contemporary language movement in Southern France: from the Felibrige to the Institut d’Estudis Occitans

7.4. The primacy of place, or the identifi cation of language and territory

7.5. History: imagining the past and calling the future into being

7.6. Conclusion

8. Internal struggles

8.1. Introduction: language revitalisation as a terrain for language ideological debates

8.2. Nineteenth century linguistic ideological debates: who can speak on behalf of the South?

8.2.1. History as a shaping discipline

8.2.2. Early orthographic debates

8.2.3. Representing the South

8.3. Contemporary struggles: Provençal as a language in its own right or as an Occitan dialect

8.3.1. Ideological roots of contemporary linguistic arguments

8.3.2. Diversity and the endangerment discourse of the 1980s and 1990s: setting the old song to a new tune

8.3.3. A rose by any other name would not smell as sweet: the collectif prouvènço, a new player in provençal language politics

8.3.4. Occitan globalisation and the shaming of the Occitan middle class

8.4. Conclusion


9. Legitimate language and traditional speakers

9.1. Introduction: fi nding the ‘traditional speaker’

9.2. ‘Language’ according to traditional speakers in provence

9.3. Terminological confusion in orange

9.3.1. Categorising speech and language: ‘patois’ and ‘mistralien’

9.3.2. Language and place

9.4. Conclusion

10. Children as ambiguous participants in language revitalisation

10.1. Introduction: the dubious child

10.2. Children as children: tokens of growth and of a future for the community

10.3. Children as pupils

10.4. Bilingual education pupils as ‘new speakers’

10.4.1. New speakers and legitimate language on the Provençal linguistic market

10.4.2. New speakers for academics: a descriptive category?

10.4.3. Legitimacy among bilingual school pupils in Provence

10.4.4. Encountering the native speaker: reframing language into old vs. new provençal

10.5. Conclusion

11. Conclusion: wrestling with classifi cations in a world of signs