Discovering Occitan.

Beebe Bahrami writes for BBC Travel about her linguistic adventures in the Dordogne:

On a cold winter’s night nine years ago, I made my way along icy cobblestone streets, a howling wind at my back, into the medieval town of Sarlat-la-Canéda in the Dordogne region of south-west France. This area is famous for its prehistoric caves, medieval castles and truffles – but I was here for another reason altogether. This was to be my first session of Café Oc, a monthly conversation circle at the Café La Lune Poivre, where locals gather to practice the regional Occitan language.

Benvenguda a Café Oc,” exclaimed 10 people, all age 60 or older, in Occitan. I introduced myself in French, and they assured me that I was welcome. One woman made a point to sit to my left and in soft whispers translated the conversation into French for me. […] That night at Café Oc, participants spoke of many things, all wedded to the land and traditions. They described growing up cultivating and producing all that their family needed to eat; how to hunt for cepes (porcini); the medieval pilgrimage route that passes through their region toward Santiago de Compostela; gathering and selling truffles at Christmas; and colourful folkloric characters, the most memorable being the lébérou, Périgord’s version of a werewolf-like creature. […]

Graham Robb, in his historical geography, The Discovery of France, noted that despite three centuries of efforts to make standardised French the language of all of France, in 1863 in the south of the country more than half the population remained non-French speaking. In the Dordogne the numbers were even higher, where more than 90% of the population was still largely Occitan speaking.

But a little more than 100 years ago at the turn of the 20th Century, the central government launched an aggressive campaign to extinguish any language that was not the standardised French. Occitan was forbidden to be taught in schools, and any children who used their mother tongue were punished, a practice that infused deep shame in many people. Many older adults in the Dordogne still tell stories about being humiliated in school for speaking Occitan. […]

Soon after my first session of Café Oc, I joined Bruno Eluere and Béatrice Mollaret, local guides and co-founders of regional tour company Dordogne Fellow Traveller on weekly treks exploring caves, castles and forest tracts. I was curious about their experience with Occitan. It seemed that, despite being brought up as French speakers, the language was still very close to their hearts. “Occitan is part of my very first memories,” Eluere told me. “Andrea, my grand aunt’s maid used to call me moun cacalou, my little walnut, which became my first nickname.”

Mollaret went further, explaining that the language is intrinsically tied to Périgord culture and how Occitan intimately describes aspects of life here, details that are lost if expressed in French or that simply do not have French words. “[Occitan] is really linked to the land, to the farm, to the traditions and legends,” she said. “Some things concerning the animals, the plants, are only known in the former language. In the Dordogne, le cluzeau [dug out rock or cave shelter], le cingle [looped or circular path], le téchou [pig] are always expressed in Occitan. […]

I also spoke with a farmer who explained that each year, after he ploughed the field, new stone tools emerged, some from Neanderthals and others from Cro-Magnons. I learned that the name Cro-Magnon itself was Occitan: Cro means ‘hole’ or ‘hollow’ in Occitan (creux in French), and Magnon was the family name of the gentlemen on whose property workers, in 1868 in the village of Les Eyzies, discovered five 27,000-year-old skeletons.

Worth it just to learn about Cro-Magnon (even the OED just says “< Cro-Magnon (French Cro-Magnon), the name of a rock shelter in a limestone cliff”). Thanks, Trevor! (I posted about Graham Robb’s book here and here, and linked to an 1847 map of the languages of France here.)


  1. John Cowan says

    Wiktionary has caught up: “From Occitan Cròs-Manhon. Francization of the Occitan. Equivalent to creux +‎ Magnon. The name Manhon derives from manhon from Latin magnus.” In turn, cròs and creux are from Latin corrōsum ‘gnawed’ (unless indeed they are Gaulish).

  2. I should have thought of checking there; thanks!

  3. I would like, once more, to mention my displeasure with expressions like “the turn of the 20th Century.” I realize this is an idiosyncratic, etymological-motivated peeve and that it is pointless to fight against the (sometimes) illogical development of the language. However, the origin of the “turn of the century” expression is that it represents the time when one century “turns” to the next. Like “the turn of the year” referring to the new year (or equinox), it seemingly makes no sense to speak of the turn of a specific year or century. The “turn from 1900 to 1901” is fine, but the “turn of 1900” seems nonsensical.

  4. I take it you’re also clinging to the idea that a century doesn’t start until the year ending in -01. You’re just bringing endless sorrow on yourself. Give it up and go with the flow!

  5. PlasticPaddy says

    English cave is traced ultimately in wiktionary to a PIE *ḱewH- (“to swell”). The Irish cró meaning “enclosed space/cavity/hole” could also be a cognate (a lot of the other cognates have an r, so this could be a suffix). The Proto-Celtic trace appears to be *skora “enclosure” but maybe the s is mobile? I think this may match semantics better than corrosum.

  6. John Cowan says

    The exact start of the century aside, turn of the century means the period of vague extent before and after the century changes, and saying turn of the 20th century seems to me the only idiomatic way to disambiguate which century is meant. As of 2020, when I say turn of the century simpliciter, I mean the years 1998-2002 or so.

    I note that 21st Century Fox was a holding company whose subsidiaries were 20th Century Fox and Fox Entertainment Group until it was sold to Disney and broken up.

  7. Ah Sarlat-la-Canéda, that brings back memories of gite holidays in the Dordogne. The local farmer on whose land the gite/ex-outhouses was sited (or rather his mother) was given to all sorts of impenetrable expressions.

    But memory is playing tricks on me. I thought Sarlat was in a steep-sided valley with the Dordogne dividing the town, and a medieval high stone bridge half of which had collapsed. Wikipedia shows no such valley. So what town am I thinking of?

  8. Christopher Culver says

    I own several Occitan textbooks, but have never actually toured southern France looking to practice it. I don’t know what to make of the drastically different claims about Occitan’s viability. On one hand I knew two Catalan nationalists who were fond of Occitan as their sister language and visited Occitania regularly, and they claimed that in many villages the older people would speak Occitan, as long as you got them a little tipsy first so that they forgot their shame. On the other hand, there are those who claim that Occitan is basically dead except for certain circles in which it is essentially used as a conlang on the basis of old books, like Modern Hebrew for the first generation of Zionists.

  9. Narmitaj says

    @AntC – I have been to Sarlat and Eyzies and other places in the general area (while staying months at a time in mostly non-tourist Riberac, west of Perigueux) but didn’t know of your bridge.

    But doing a bit of googling, I found a collapsed bridge at a place called Vitrac, which is less than 10kms south of Sarlat and a smidge east along the river from Beynac, Roque-Gageac and Domme, all of which I have been to. might be the bridge you are looking for.

  10. David Marjanović says

    I don’t know what to make of the drastically different claims about Occitan’s viability.

    I’m sure both of these, and more, are true in different places. It’s a pretty big region by western (or central) European standards after all. On top of that, the dialects spoken by tipsy old people may not be terribly similar to any of the attempts at standardization undertaken and then learned by nationalists.

    As it happens, I have a colleague my age from Sarlat. He says his grandparents were beaten in school for speaking Occitan – and later used it as a secret language, so basically all he knows of it are the swearwords, including but not limited to all of female anatomy.

  11. It’s my impression that the local language spoken in my father-in-law’s native town, Chiomonte, in Piemonte’s Val di Susa, is a dialect of Occitan; it is the easternmost place where it is heard. See'Ors)

  12. SFReader says

    Let’s complete the etymology.

    We now know that Cro means “hole” or “hollow” in Occitan. Magnon, the surname of a man on whose property bones were found, “is from the old oblique case of the Germanic personal name Magino, -onis (derived from Old High German magan ‘strength’, ‘might’)”.

    Neanderthal – “Neander’s valley”, place in western Germany where the bones were found.

    The valley is named after Joachim Neander, famous 17th century Protestant theologian. Neander is a name he invented, being translation into Greek of his original surname Neumann (Newman).

    So, Cro Magnon basically means “Strong man from the hollow” and Neanderthal “New man from the valley”.

  13. For those of you who believe “turn of the 20th century” is a useful way to communicate, who do you think added “a little more than 100 years ago”? The writer, essentially admitting up front that the phrase didn’t get the point across? Or an editor who insisted that if she wanted to use a phrase devoid of meaning because she felt it afforded some sort of literary effect, she’d still need to let the readers know which turn of the 20th century she was talking about?

    If you have to define the phrase every time you deploy it, it’s useless, and most writers know to avoid it.

  14. AJP Crown says

    You’re just bringing endless sorrow on yourself. Give it up and go with the flow!
    Look, this isn’t just some nitwitted crangling about apostrophe-S. Worse than useless it’s confusing. Is ‘the turn’ the beginning or the end? It could be either, and it’s often hard to know which turn is meant: 19th-20th or 20th-21st.

  15. SFReader says

    A little more than 20 years ago, at the turn of the 21st century…

  16. David Eddyshaw says

    … across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us.

  17. Kate Bunting says

    >The valley is named after Joachim Neander, famous 17th century Protestant theologian.

    Thanks, SFReader, for this snippet of information. I knew the name of Neander as the writer of the hymn sung in English as “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty”, also that Neanderthal was the name of a valley, but was not aware of the connection between the two! (BTW, Wikipedia says that it was Joachim’s grandfather who changed the family name.)

  18. For those of you who believe “turn of the 20th century” is a useful way to communicate, who do you think added “a little more than 100 years ago”?

    A wordy person. The phrase “turn of the 20th century” means the period around 1900 and always has. This is an invented ambiguity; it’s like people complaining about “head over heels” because the head is ALWAYS above the heels.

  19. Jen in Edinburgh says

    OT: Can anyone remember where we were talking about Macs and Mcs and M’s, not all that long ago?

    I’ve recently come across Sir Thomas Makdougall Brisbane, which is a variant I don’t think anyone came up with!

  20. Interesting!

    In November 1819 he married Anna Maria Hay Makdougall of Makerstoun, Roxburghshire, Scotland. On his father-in-law’s death, Brisbane assumed the additional surname, becoming Makdougall Brisbane.

    Maybe the Mak- was imported from Mak-erstoun.

  21. AJP Crown says

    Maybe the Mak- was imported from Mak-erstoun.
    Or perhaps – like Gordon and Gordonstoun – it’s Maker and Makerstoun.

  22. Jen in Edinburgh says

    Makerstoun is the poet’s farm, probably. But the surname could be a conceit based on the placename, just the same.

  23. The phrase “turn of the 20th century” means the period around 1900 and always has.
    Slightly OT, but for me “turn of the century” alone still means the period around 1900. When I see people using that phrase for the period around 2000, I feel that it’s not right, that’s not long enough ago yet. But I also haven’t got used to “the previous century” referring to the 20th…

  24. David Marjanović says

    I think turn of the millennium hasn’t caught on in English because it’s too long. Jahrtausendwende has caught on in German, being no longer than Jahrhundertwende.

  25. Slightly OT, but for me “turn of the century” alone still means the period around 1900.

    Oh, me too, me too.

  26. I have basically given up using “turn of the century” since we are now well into the twenty-first. However, “turn of the millennium” serves me fine on occasion.

    When I read or hear “turn of the century,” I too still think of the period around 1900. Usually, that seems to be what is meant, but I have been confused a few times when the intended reference was actually to the time around 2000.

    I suspect to young people now, 2000 does seem pretty far in the past. My undergraduates were mostly born in 2000 or after, and even many of the graduate students are too young to have meaningful memories of the last century. I was just thinking about this yesterday. As time passes, I have fewer and fewer common formative memories with my students. When I started as a professor (after four years off from teaching, as a post-doc), it felt weird that most of my students had no recollection of the Cold War. Now, they have no knowledge of a world before 9/11. I was wondering yesterday what it would be like if I continued teaching until I was seventy-five or eighty, since I don’t really plan on retiring until I just can’t do the work. In a couple decades, the students won’t remember the current pandemic, and in forty years, who knows what future events I will be making this same observation about?

  27. Yes, I keep thinking about that sort of time gap. The sixties are as ancient to college kids today as WWI was when I was in college, and I just can’t wrap my head around “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” being today’s equivalent of “Over There.”

  28. Russian joke:

    “Grandma, have you been already born when there was no Putin?”
    “Yes, of course, dear”
    “Weren’t you afraid? You could have been eaten by a dinosaur!”

  29. When I was a kid and my granddad talked about WW II, it felt like ancient history. Now the year of my birth is nearer to even WW I than to today…

  30. As I’ve been mostly reading and thinking about the 18th and 19th centuries recently, I default to around 1800 for ‘turn of the century’. When writing I have found it difficult to find a phrase to disambiguate between about 1800 and about 1900 when both are plausible, at least in a way that sounds natural to me.

  31. Narmitaj says

    @ languagehat – More specifically, in the last week Neil Armstrong’s big step on Apollo 11 became closer in time to Armistice Day at the end of WW1 (50 years and 252 days) than it is to us here on 4th April 2020 (50 years and 259 days) (If I got my sums right).

    My father, pleasingly enough, was 51 at Apollo 11 and would have been 102 now (born Dec 1917, in the same week and the same county, Somerset, as Arthur C. Clarke).

    Another time stat I like is that Cleopatra and Julius Caesar are far closer to us in time (by about 500 years) than they are to the construction of the Great Pyramid of Giza.

  32. Subjective time is logarithmic (this is not an xkcd reference, standard for people of a certain age, but there is a lot of Munroevia there).

  33. AJP Crown says

    The period between roughly 1965 and now (2020) seems to me to be one long blur. Perhaps it was the drugs. But even though I mostly wasn’t born yet, the differences between say, a 1930 film, building, artwork, costume, book, food, piece of music, social conventions or conversation and those from 1965 seem more apparent than during an equal but later length of time: 1985 and today, say. For a British person, the period 1837 to 1914 evokes a similar blur. The similarities are mostly stylistic of course, and it ignores technological & political changes.

  34. SFReader says

    When I was a kid, there was a show about the Great Patriotic War on Soviet TV called “Forty years ago”.

    That was forty years ago.

  35. AJP Crown says

    When I was a kid there was a weekly half-hour programme on TV called All Our Yesterdays that showed newsreels of events from that week 25 years ago. I just remember the Munich crisis and wishing they’d get started with WW2.

  36. January First-of-May says

    Another time stat I like is that Cleopatra and Julius Caesar are far closer to us in time (by about 500 years) than they are to the construction of the Great Pyramid of Giza.

    As I used to describe it: “The three most famous pharaohs are Cheops [Khufu], Tutankhamun, and Cleopatra; from Cheops to Tutankhamun is almost exactly as much time as from Tutankhamun to Cleopatra [actually roughly 1250 and 1280 years respectively], but from Cheops to Cleopatra is more time than from Cleopatra to us.”

    (I occasionally also mentioned Ramesses, perhaps the fourth most famous after those three, who was supposedly almost the same age as Tutankhamun; however, I later found out that Tutankhamun’s “contemporary” was in fact the brief Ramesses I [who reigned about thirty years later, around age 50], and not the famous Ramesses II.)

  37. Thank you @Narmitaj for your sleuthing.Yes all those place-names are familiar.

    But, sorry no, not that bridge. I have a very strong mental image; and I’m sure the bridge was in Sarlat. Yet Sarlat seems not to have the river running through it. Is there an even older part of the town through which the river runs? Speak! Memory.

    The gite was just outside Salignac.

    The bridge had a central column, still standing in the river. The bridge ran up to the column on one side but not the other. (A ‘disappointed bridge’ James Joyce would call it.) It was wide enough for a laden packhorse/mule, but not for a wagon. Perhaps it was some other town/some other river, a tributary of the Dordogne. (I’ve chased those tributaries on wikipedia; not ringing any bells.) OTOH the river/bridge was in a narrow gorge that would have needed a major fleuve to carve it.

  38. PlasticPaddy says

    Le pont coudé de Brantôme seems to resemble your description…

  39. Bathrobe says

    So does fin-de-siècle still refer to the 1890s?

  40. I would think so, at least outside of French.

  41. Narmitaj says

    @ PlasticPaddy – that bridge looks promising in the pic on the list page you linked to, but from other angles it is just a dog-leg.

    You can see several image here:

  42. Rodger C says

    The telephone is twice as old as when I was born.

  43. David Marjanović says

    “fin de millénaire” gives 59,100 ghits, mostly to songs of a band with that name.

  44. Giacomo Ponzetto says

    It’s my impression that the local language spoken in my father-in-law’s native town, Chiomonte, in Piemonte’s Val di Susa, is a dialect of Occitan; it is the easternmost place where it is heard.

    All the westernmost valleys of Piedmont between Mont Cenis and Col de Tende are indeed “Occitan Valleys,” at least officially. Perhaps more people still speak Occitan there than in similar places in France, because language policy in Italy was never as aggressive. However, given the long-run competition from not only Italian but also French and Piedmontese, the viability of Occitan is far from clear in those valleys either.

    The easternmost place where Occitan is traditionally spoken is, however, certainly further east: in the Calabrian enclave of Guardia (recently and formally, Guardia Piemontese). Wikipedia reports a linguist’s claim that 370 out of its 1,860 residents still speak.

  45. John Cowan says

    Perhaps La Gàrdia should be twinned with Faeto and Celle di San Vito in Foggia, where Arpitan is spoken. To say nothing of their colony, Brantford, Ontario.

    Wikipedia also has a list of Italian villages that never spoke Occitan that nevertheless claim to be Occitan-speaking.

  46. David Marjanović says

    It’s probably here that I learned that some people in westernmost Italy refer to their Piemontese dialects as Occitan because Piemontese “is a dialect of Italian” while Occitan is not… That said, some of the claimed Occitan is real.

  47. Let’s complete the etymology

    Not so fast: this is leaving out the recently-unearthed Denisovans, our other cousins also named after a geological formation named after a person (though the “cave” part has gotten dropped here). Quoth WP: “In the 18th century, the cave was inhabited by an Old Believer hermit, Dyonisiy”, making an appropriate parallel to Neander I guess.

    Etymologically Denis then in the first place unpacks as the Dionysian. The path turns rockier if we wanted to etymologize even Διόνυσος as well, though, probably resulting in a big string of genitives: “One of the cave of the follower of the god of Nūsa”…

  48. Roberto Batisti says

    some people in westernmost Italy refer to their Piemontese dialects as Occitan because Piemontese “is a dialect of Italian” while Occitan is not

    It is my understanding that some municipalities that are actually Piedmontese-speaking officially claimed Occitan status precisely in order to access the funding granted by Law 482/99.

    Very controversially, the law does not provide protection for those regional languages that were traditionally considered to be ‘Italian dialects’ for historical-cultural (rather than strictly linguistic) reasons.

  49. SFReader says

    As I understand, the laws of such nature in practical terms mostly aim to increase visibility of writing in the protected minority language.

    So I wonder how practical would be bilingual street signs in standard Italian and, say, Florentine dialect.

  50. @SFReader: Is there actually an orthography for Florentine that differs from standard Italian?

  51. Esempio 1 (NB: non esiste una grafia unica per i dialetti toscani, quella in uso qui non è quella dell’italiano)

    Tant’ anni fà s’ andette à camminare à l’ osterìa bruciata. Si fece fatiha di pé ì ridere, anche pecché e’ piovea che’ parea volesse pienare tutta la valle d’ ì Mugello. Mentre si stavea cammiando, si vidde de’ cignali che’ corréano veloce; “Oddìo, ora icché si fà?!” e’ disse Gigi “Oh, fiha lessa, gl’ enno lontani, icché volégli ché sia?” gli fece Piero. Quand’ e’ gli furno passi tutti e’ cignali, e’ mi’ amici gli prencipiorno à camminare, io però stiedi fermo. “Ché fa’ ù?” mi bociò Gigi; Unn ero ripartito pecché aveo visto un fungo in qu’ ì posto ndo’ s’era! é l’era anche di vélli boni! Ci si fermiede lì, é pé cena si féciano le tagliatelle co’ porcini trifolati.

  52. SFReader says

    Maybe that’s because Law 482/99 in current form wouldn’t provide grants to create such differing orthography.

    (There are pronunciation differences, so I imagine it can be done.)

  53. Roberto Batisti says

    So I wonder how about practicality of bilingual street signs in standard Italian and, say, Florentine dialect.

    I know of no such signs in Florence, probably because Florentine is not felt to be different enough from Standard Italian.

    However, many local administrations do put up bilingual signs, also in areas not covered by the law (some nice examples from my region here).
    Unfortunately, since in the North the defense of local dialects is still associated with the far-right (formerly Northern) League, some left-wing councils had the signs removed (see bottom of the linked page).

  54. SFReader says

    There is a teasing rhyme about old Moscow dialect in Russian which can be rendered orthographically: “S Maskvy, s pasada, s kalashnogo ryada…”

    This is a reference to well known “akanye” (use of “a” instead of “o”) of the Moscow dialect.

    So technically, it would be possible to make bilingual signs in standard Russian and Moscow dialect.

    {Thinking} trilingual, rather. We must consider foreign guests too.

    So, visitors to the capital of Russia would be welcomed by a multilingual sign:


  55. This is a reference to well known “akanye” (use of “a” instead of “o”) of the Moscow dialect.

    Isn’t this standard Russian? Who says “Mos-kva”?

  56. SFReader says

    Akanye has degrees.

    Standard Russian is Mɐˈskva and old Moscow pronunciation would be closer to Mʌskva.

    At least that’s what I hear in S Maskvy, s pasada

  57. John Cowan says

    Back in the 1970s I was taught to use /a/ in stressed syllables, /ʌ/ in pre-stressed syllables and /ɘ/ otherwise. Of course, I was also taught /ʃtʃ/ a la Leningrad (or Warsaw). I have probably mentioned that the first two weeks (six hours) of the class were spent in learning to speak English with a thick Russian accent, as a precursor to speaking Russian with a thick Russian accent, that is, perfectly. I still remember how to do the first but have forgotten most-to-all of the Russian I learned.

  58. Andrej Bjelaković says

    Akanye has degrees.

    Standard Russian is Mɐˈskva and old Moscow pronunciation would be closer to Mʌskva.

    But [ʌ] (as well as GA /ʌ/ for that matter) is closer to [o~ɔ] than [ɐ] is, so I don’t see how the eye-dialect “Maskva” better suited to represent Mʌskva rather than Mɐˈskva.

  59. SFReader says

    Just plain Maskva then.

    It seems I got IPA signs all mixed up, even the basic ones.

  60. If you want akanye as part of the official orthography, try Belarusian.

  61. Giacomo Ponzetto says

    Anything to do with “Italian dialects,” and surely with linguistic diversity more broadly, is controversial, and I should admit I’m no expert. However, I hope the following remarks should be reasonably truthful and not too controversial.

    1. Legal protection for officially recognized language minorities in Italy (Law 482/1999 etc.) isn’t particularly focused on writing. It also covers official oral usage. In fact, advocates of the linguistic minorities routinely complain about the lack of public TV and radio programming in all but the official languages of neighboring countries.

    2. The choice of the officially recognized minorities is arbitrary and ultimately political, but nonetheless based on defensible linguistic arguments. It would have been easy to leave all “Italian dialects” unrecognized and deal only with non-Romance languages and the mainly transalpine Romance languages. Instead, Friulan, Ladin and Sardinian were recognized too. The linguists behind the law claimed that was appropriate because those languages belong to separate branches of the Romance family, while everything else forms an “Italo-Romance” system, or as (English) Wikipedia puts it, the Gallo-Italic and Italo-Dalmatian branches.

    3. Any Tuscan dialect is a particularly bad example, because those are the “Italian dialects” that can be reasonably considered dialects of Italian. Or perhaps it’s Italian that should be considered a Tuscan dialect. Either way, sure, in that case a double spelling would be a joke like Moskva/Maskva, or Baltimore/Balmer.

    But that kind of dismissive analogy doesn’t work for many “Italian dialects.” Least of all for Gallo-Italic ones, as Roberto Batisti’s examples show. E.g., not at all coincidentally, my hometown of Turin is spelled the same way in Piedmontese, French and English. I have no desire myself for signage other than in Italian (I don’t even speak Piedmontese), but I don’t think it’d be fair to say that’s just an over-accurate spelling of the local pronunciation of Torino. At least not any more than Paris is just a dialectal way of spelling Parigi.

  62. John Cowan says

    try Belarusian.

    As the name of the language tells us.

    At least not any more than Paris is just a dialectal way of spelling Parigi.

    Well, both of them are really just dialectal ways of spelling (Lutetia) Parisiorum.

  63. January First-of-May says

    Actually, come to think of it, where did that G came from? It’s in Russian too.

  64. Well, the Russian is from Polish Paryż, but that simply moves the question a bit westward.

  65. Район получил своё название от расположенного здесь кишлака Фариш. Имеется версия, что это название изначально звучало как Париж и было заимствовано у столицы Франции в период правления Тимура (Тамерлана).

    В «Национальной энциклопедии Узбекистана» эта версия квалифицируется как местные сведения[1], однако историк Г.А. Хидоятов (1990 год) подробно излагает её без атрибуции.

    Как пишет Г.А. Хидоятов, Тимур желал превратить главный город своей империи Самарканд в самую крупную и роскошную столицу мира.

    По замыслу правителя, столицы других стран должны были выглядеть скромными деревнями на его фоне. Он распорядился заложить в окрестностях Самарканда несколько небольших поселений, которым были присвоены имена Багдад, Дамаск, Каир, Шираз, Султания и Париж[3].

    Последний топоним и сохранился до наших дней, хотя в речи местного населения постепенно подвергся искажению (Париж/Фариж/Фариш/Фориш)[1][3].

    Этимология названия Фари́шский райо́н

  66. John Cowan says

    A sound change sʲ > zʲ > dʒʲ doesn’t seem so unlikely to me.

  67. E.g., in Japanese shima ‘island’ can become -jima in compounds, as in Miyajima.

  68. A sound change sʲ > zʲ > dʒʲ doesn’t seem so unlikely to me.

    eg, in English pronunciation of words allusion, conclusion, division, occasion, vision

  69. Kamil Ibragimov says

    That’s ʒʲ.

  70. Париж/Фариж/Фариш/Фориш)

    Reminds me etymology of the Khuramsha village in Ivolga district of Buryatia.

    Believe it or not, this Buryat village was named after great city of Khwarazm, likely from old Mongol personal name Qurumshi (Khwarezmian).

  71. I would wonder if that’s another case of the Louis to Luigi shunt, which IIRC is supposed to proceed thru Old French apical [ẕ] being rendered as /ʒ/ in Friulian.

  72. Roberto Batisti says

    In fact, words like Parigi used to have -ʒ-.

    Proto-Romance intervocalic -sj- is reflected as either -ʃ- or -ʒ- in medieval Tuscan (just as -s- became either -s- or -z-; it is always -z- in the North and always -s- in the South). Both sounds were usually written -sc(i)-.

    Apical [ẕ] in loans from Old French by way of North Italian dialects/languages (which mostly still have an apical realization of /s/ and /z/ to this day) was identified with this native /ʒ/.
    (I think that Parise or Parisi are attested in Northern Italy around that time.)

    In later Tuscan, the affricates t͡ʃ and d͡ʒ (from Lat. k g before front vowels) were lenited to ʃ and ʒ between vowels. As a consequence, all intervocalic instances of ʃ and ʒ were reanalysed as allophones of the affricates, and came to be written c(i), g(i).

    Since Italians from other regions mainly learned Tuscan from writing, today’s standard [t͡ʃ] and [d͡ʒ] is basically a spelling pronunciation.

    Florentines, on the other hand, retained lenition as a synchronic rule and never stopped saying [paˈriːʒi].

  73. Fascinating, thanks very much!

  74. David Marjanović says

    That explains a lot!

  75. Roberto Batisti says

    The last sentence of my above post should read “…never stopped *saying…”, of course.

  76. Fixed!

  77. In later Tuscan, the affricates t͡ʃ and d͡ʒ (…) were lenited to ʃ and ʒ between vowels

    Part of the Tuscan gorgia lenition? For some reason I only ever see its descriptions mentioning stop spirantization though.

  78. some people in westernmost Italy refer to their Piemontese dialects as Occitan because Piemontese “is a dialect of Italian” while Occitan is not…
    I asked my father-in-law (born in Chiomonte/Chaumont, 1904) if, when he was a child, they spoke Italian or “dialect” at home. “Italian! I didn’t learn Italian until I went to school!”
    The old people spoke “Chiomontino,” they said, not Piemontese. And it sounded to me much more French than Italian.

  79. For dislect read dialect, of course.

  80. Trond Engen says

    … but dislect is a good coinage. Now, what does it mean?

  81. It is not a new coinage; in fact, it has a venerable lineage, being used for centuries to refer to dialects that are incorrect. It only appears new because of the tendency of modern linguists to refer to incorrect varieties as “dialects” rather than the proper word, “dislects”.

    In the case of English, dislects are (obviously) all those varieties not identical to mine.

  82. Roberto Batisti says

    Part of the Tuscan gorgia lenition?

    Arguably, yes – after all, stops and affricates form a natural class [-son], [-cont].

    If I remember correctly, however, some authorities do refer to this lenition as part of gorgia, or at least as a ‘parallel’ process.

  83. John Cowan says

    In a talk she gave in 2014, Le Guin (born 1929) says “Mosco” for the city in Russia. She pairs it with “Chicago”.

  84. Lars Mathiesen (he/him/his) says

    @RB, did Tuscan have a period where old ʃ and ʒ were distinguished from deaffricated t͡ʃ and d͡ʒ, similar to Spanish where it’s the origin of distinción? (Well, actually it was /t͡s/~/d͡z/ [that remained dental after deaffrication in Old Spanish, distinct from alveolar /s/~/z/} which eventually became /θ/).

  85. David Marjanović says

    I doubt that the first two steps of the gorgia, or those of the HG consonant shift which are practically the same thing, should be called lenitions. They’re fortition: introduce aspiration and then exaggerate it till it breaks.

    However, turning the resulting affricates into fricatives can be considered a lenition in the Tuscan case. Not sure about the German case, because there those fricatives are specifically long.

  86. Lars Mathiesen (he/him/his) says

    Danish is, of course, doing what it can to break its stops, now that the vowels and approximants have been squared away into as few phonemes as possible. Tak is more or less [tˢɑg̥], [t͡sɑg̥] — I suspect the former notation is used by Danish phoneticians mindful of national pride).

    (No front vowels needed as an excuse).

  87. David Marjanović says

    Unrelated to front vowels in German and Tuscan as well.

  88. Roberto Batisti says

    @ Lars Mathiesen: good question, and one that largely surpasses my competence, alas.

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