Franco-Provençal language

patouès, arpetan
Pronunciation[patuˈe, -tuˈɑ]; [ɑrpiˈtɑ̃, -pəˈt-]
Native toItaly, France, Switzerland
RegionAosta Valley, Piedmont, Foggia, Franche-Comté, Savoie, Bresse, Bugey, Dombes, Beaujolais, Dauphiné, Lyonnais, Forez, Romandie
Native speakers
140,000 (1998–2007)[1]
includes 70,000 in France (1971 census) [2] and 68,000 in Aosta Valley (2003 census)[3]
Official status
Recognised minority
language in
 Aosta Valley (protected by statute)[4]
Language codes
ISO 639-3frp
Map of the Franco-Provençal Language Area:
Dark Blue: Protected. — Medium Blue: General regions.
Light Blue: Historical transition zone.
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For a guide to IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

Franco-Provençal (also Francoprovençal or Arpitan) is a dialect group within Gallo-Romance spoken in east-central France, western Switzerland, northwestern Italy, and in enclaves in the Province of Foggia in Apulia, Italy.

Franco-Provençal has several distinct dialects and is separate from but closely related to neighboring Romance dialects (the langues d'oïl and Occitan, Rhaeto-Romance, Lombard, Piedmontese).[7]

The designation Franco-Provençal (Franco-Provençal: francoprovençâl; French: francoprovençal; Italian: francoprovenzale) dates to the 19th century. Traditionally, the dialect group is also referred to as patois(patouès), and since the late 20th century as Arpitan (Franco-Provençal: arpetan; Italian: arpitano), and its areal as Arpitania.[8]

Formerly spoken throughout the territory of Savoy, Franco-Provençal speakers are now found spoken of in the Aosta Valley, an autonomous administrative division of Italy. The language is also spoken in alpine valleys in the Metropolitan City of Turin, two isolated towns (Faeto and Celle di San Vito) in the Province of Foggia, and rural areas of the Swiss Romandie. It is one of the three Gallo-Romance language families of France and is officially recognized as a regional language of France, but its use is marginal. Organizations are attempting to preserve it through cultural events, education, scholarly research, and publishing.

Aside from regional French dialects (the Langues d'oïl), it is the most closely related language to French. The number of speakers of Franco-Provençal has been declining significantly. According to UNESCO (1995), Franco-Provençal is a "potentially endangered language" in Italy and an "endangered language" in Switzerland and France.


Franco-Provençal emerged as a Gallo-Romance variety of Latin. The linguistic region comprises east-central France, western portions of Switzerland, and the Aosta Valley of Italy with the adjacent alpine valleys of the Piedmont. This area covers territories once occupied by pre-Roman Celts, including the Allobroges, Sequani, Helvetii, Ceutrones, and Salassi. By the 5th century, the region was controlled by the Burgundians. Federico Krutwig has also detected a Basque substrate in the toponyms of the easternmost Valdôtain dialect.[9]

Franco-Provençal is first attested in manuscripts from the 12th century, possibly diverging from the langues d'oïl as early as the 8th–9th centuries (Bec, 1971). However, Franco-Provençal is consistently typified by a strict, myopic comparison to French, and so is characterized as "conservative". Thus, commentators, like Désormaux, consider "medieval" the terms for many nouns and verbs, including pâta "rag", bayâ "to give", moussâ "to lie down", all of which are conservative only relative to French. As an example, Désormaux, writing on this point in the foreword of his Savoyard dialect dictionary, states:

The antiquated character of the Savoyard patois is striking. One can note it not only in phonetics and morphology, but also in the vocabulary, where one finds numerous words and directions that clearly disappeared from French.[10]

Franco-Provençal failed to garner the cultural prestige of its three more widely spoken neighbors: French, Occitan, and Italian. Communities where speakers lived were generally mountainous and isolated from one another. The internal boundaries of the entire speech area were divided by wars and religious conflicts. France, Switzerland, the Franche-Comté (protected by Habsburg Spain), and the duchy, later kingdom, ruled by the House of Savoy politically divided the region. The strongest possibility for any dialect of Franco-Provençal to establish itself as a major language died when an edict, dated 6 January 1539, was confirmed in the parliament of the Duchy of Savoy on 4 March 1540 (duchy was partially occupied by France since 1538). The edict explicitly replaced Latin (and by implication, any other language) with French as the language of law and the courts (Grillet, 1807, p. 65).

The name Franco-Provençal (franco-provenzale) is due to Graziadio Isaia Ascoli (1878), chosen because the dialect group was seen as intermediate between French and Provençal.

Franco-Provençal dialects were widely spoken in their speech areas until the 20th century. As French political power expanded and the "single-national-language" doctrine was spread through French-only education, Franco-Provençal speakers abandoned their language, which had numerous spoken variations and no standard orthography, in favor of culturally prestigious French.

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Arpitaans
አማርኛ: አርፒታንኛ
arpetan: Arpetan
asturianu: Franco-provenzal
brezhoneg: Arpitaneg
Esperanto: Arpitana lingvo
français: Francoprovençal
Bahasa Indonesia: Bahasa Arpitan
íslenska: Arpitanska
kernowek: Arpitanek
lumbaart: Lengua arpitana
Bahasa Melayu: Bahasa Arpitan
Nederlands: Francoprovençaals
Nordfriisk: Frankoprowensaals
Patois: Aapiitan
Picard: Arpitan
sicilianu: Arpitanu
suomi: Arpitaani
Türkçe: Arpitanca