«OCCITANY» AND «OCCITAN»
Are the Occitany area and the Occitan language modern inventions ?
The terms “Occitany” (Occitan area) and «Occitano» (Occitan language) have been recorded as being in use since the XIII century. Reference to them being made in the documents of the chancellery of the King of France. They again became popular in the XIX century under the form of «Occitanico» or «Occitanien» (see H. de Rochegude, “Le Parnasse Occitanien” dated 1819), becoming more generalized in the XX century.
Who speaks Occitan?
At the start of the new millennium the number of natural Occitan speakers is of between 3 and 4 million people. Usually being persons of rural origin and of over 50 years in age, however there is a new trend emerging in which an increasing number of young people are choosing to return to Occitan. Whilst the number of people who actually understand the language has been estimated of being between 6 and 7 million people.