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Protecting indigeneous culture through languages

I think that a large part of culture and of the way of thinking of the people in an area is extremely strongly related to its language : the grammatical structure, the vocabulary, etc., it all makes you think differently. (a paper on that subject : http://www.helium.com/items/1376376-how-language-influences-culture...)

In the past, the French state tried to make regional or indigeneous languages disappear. It was even forbidden to use it. For the greatest good of the nation cohesion. So several languages tend to disappear in Metropolitan France and in French overseas department and territories (it has also been the case before, during colonization and for other European countries as well.)

Fortunately, it changed and now several regional languages are now teached in public schools (Basque, Breton, Catalan, Occitan, Corse, Tahitien, Ajie, Drehu, Nengone, Paici, Gallo, Francique, Alsacien). Here is a map of regional languages in Metropolitan France :

But I believe that some knowledge have been lost because of all this time when these languages have been forbidden. Some are still missing and endangered too, like Créole for instance.

Learning English is required now, because it is an international language, but I really think that is important to try to learn other languages to make them last and keep this culture safe.

So let's begin now, I have made a search of how to say "hello" in some languages spoken in France ! (some are close to French, but some are completely different, and that just a word, imagine the grammar, etc)
Alsacien (East of France, near Germany) : Buschur
Basque (extremely old language, non related to Indian European languages, spoken in South West of France and North of Spain) : Egun on
Breton (celtic language spoken in the west of Metropolitan France) : Demat
Catalan (South of France) : Bon dia
Corse (spoken in the Corse Island, South East of France) : Bonghjurnu
Créole of Carribean islands (spoken in Martinique et Guadeloupe) : Bonjou
Créole of Réunion island (near Madagascar) : Bonhzour
Drehu (one of the kanak kanguages of Nouvelle Calédonie, archipelago in Oceania) : Bonzu ou Talofa
French : Bonjour
Gallo (spoken in the west of Metropolitan France) : L'Bonjorn
Occitan (South of France) : Bonjorn
Tahitien (spoken in Polynésie Française, archipelago in the Pacific Ocean) : La ora na

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Comment by Daniel Pisani on April 25, 2010 at 7:54pm
This is actually very interesting. I'm from Ontario, and I speak French as a second language. I was aware that Québécois French is different from France French. J'ai toujours appris que c'était écris "Bonjour", sauf maintenant je vois qu'il y a une multitude de façons de l'écrire,
Comment by Edwige Lelievre on April 25, 2010 at 8:08pm
The French you learned at school and the French spoken in Quebec is almost the same. There is a different accent, different expressions, but it is still the same language. We call such variations a "patois" (something like local dialect) because the language has the same origin and structure. (the map I posted is more about "patois" than languages, by the way)

What I was talking about in my post are totally other languages, some with latin root (so quite close) but some completely different, that French-speaking won't understand and existing in France since a very long time. For instance the Basque (the only European language isolate) was certainly used in France before Indo-European languages and is not related to them. It means it is a languages spoken by a people that was here before Celts and Romans. We don't know who they were, but somehow their civilization and way of thinking remained through the ages thanks to their language. And also, you have to know that French is closest to Hindi (Indian language) than to Basque ! (more informations here : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basque_language)
Comment by PJE on April 26, 2010 at 8:58am
This is very interesting Edwige, Thank you. I remember reading that before the revolution there were many more there is a list of 38 here:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Languages_of_France. I also agree about 'thinking differently' and having different concepts.
Comment by Hanna Brady on April 26, 2010 at 11:37pm
This is a really good point about protecting indigenous cultures and it's an issue in lots of other places too. Here's Wikipedia's lists of endangered languages:


It's amazing how many there are. It makes me so sad that the language programs in my area of the US aren't terribly focused on creating a bilingual population. I have some catching up to do. ^_^


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