By Alison Bate
My French roommate Julien is practising his Occitan, a language I’d never heard of until he moved in four months ago.
Julien is from Toulouse and he showed me a beautiful YouTube video called Mon Pais, accompanied by a rousing patriotic song. The language of Occitan sounds like a cross between French and Spanish which, of course, it is.
Glorious snowcapped mountains, sweeping white beaches and unbearably cute limestone villages in southern France floated by as Occitan subtitles spread across the screen.
Meanwhile in our apartment, the red and yellow flag of Occitan has pride of place next to Julien’s computer. I made the mistake of saying: “It looks a bit like the Crusades flag.” He visibly blanched and rushed to correct me “No, it’s the opposite of that,” he said, launching into an extended history of Occitan. I quickly apologised. Continue reading