Aquò m’agrada: The Use of Occitan on Facebook

    Par Oliver Whitmore

     

    The rise of social media has allowed for speakers of minority languages to form communities and interest groups across physical, national, and socioeconomic boundaries (Visser, 2017). In other words, social media and the web have provided a new space for language (re)vitalization. For example, Pimienta & Prado (2014), working under the Délégation Générale à la Langue Française et aux Langues de France, found evidence of most French regional languages on the web. Occitan, the traditional language of Southern France, was found to have a radiant online presence except in social mediaHowever, it is unclear whether the results on the lack of Occitan on social media refer only to internet domains with Occitan as an interface language or also to all sub-domain level forms of internet communication (posts, comments, groups, etc). 

    In order to further assess Occitan’s presence online, I analyzed the use of Occitan varieties on about 100 public Facebook Groups and Pages. Replicating most of the methodology of Pimienta & Prado (2014), I documented the number of followers, the genre of postsand the orthography and language(s) used in the title and content of the subdomain. My results show that the majority (81%) of subdomains predominantly use monolingual Occitan in their title and that many (65%) of the subdomains are associated with cultural groups (24%), the media (20%), or educational initiatives (21%)The current findings show that a substantial amount of interaction occurs by way of Occitan lay authority (Visser, 2017). The present study suggests that this dynamic of lay authority is critical in pushing language revitalization through cultural and linguistic immersion on social media.  

     

    References: 

     Pimienta, D., & Prado, D. (2014). Étude sur la place des langues de France sur l’Internet. Langues & recherche. DGLFLF/Maaya. 

    Visser, J. (2017). 15 The Role of Small Languages in the Media II: Presence of Picard in Medial Communication. Manual of Romance Languages in the Media, 23, 343. 

     

 

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