Occitan (also known as lenga d’òc by its speakers) is a Romance language spoken in Southern France, Italy’s Occitan Valleys, Monaco, and Spain’s Val d’Aran. It is also spoken in immigrant communities in Canada, the United States, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, and Australia.
The Occitan language is of ancient origin and is a member of the Gallo-Romance group of languages which includes French, Franco-Provençal, and Lombard. It is therefore distantly related to Italian, Romanian, and Spanish.
While the Occitan language once enjoyed a wide-spread use throughout Southern France, its use has been in decline since the 17th century. This decline is largely due to the rise of French as the dominant language in France, as well as government policies which have discouraged the use of Occitan.
Despite its decline, there is a growing movement to revive the Occitan language. In 2007, the General Council of the Aude department in France voted to make Occitan an official language of the region, alongside French. There are also a number of Occitan language schools and associations which work to promote the use of the language.
With an estimated 2 million speakers, Occitan is considered a vulnerable language. However, its use is slowly starting to revive, thanks in part to the efforts of dedicated language activists.