Provençal (//, also UK: /-/,US: / – -/-,; French: provençal[pʁɔvɑ̃sal], locally [pʁovãⁿˈsalə]; Occitan: provençau or prouvençau[pʀuvenˈsaw]) is a variety of Occitan spoken by a minority of people in Southern France, mostly in Provence. Historically, the term Provençal has been used to refer to the whole of the Occitan language, but today it is considered more technically appropriate to refer only to the variety of Occitan spoken in Provence.
Provençal is also the customary name given to the older version of the Occitan language used by the troubadours of medievalliterature, when Old French or the langue d’oïl was limited to the northern areas of France. Thus the ISO 639-3 code for Old Occitan is [pro].
In 2007, all the ISO 639-3 codes for Occitan dialects, including [prv] for Provençal, were retired and merged into [oci] Occitan. The old codes ([prv], [auv], [gsc], [lms], [lnc]) are no longer in active use, but still have the meaning assigned them when they were established in the Standard.
The main subdialects of Provençal are:
- Rodanenc (in French Rhodanien) around the lower Rhone river, Arles, Avignon, Nîmes.
- Maritim or Centrau or Mediterranèu (Maritime or Central or Mediterranean) around Aix-en-Provence, Marseille, Toulon, Cannes, Antibes, Grasse, Forcalquier, Castellane, Draguignan.
- Niçard in the lower County of Nice.
Gavòt (in French Gavot), spoken in the Western Occitan Alps, around Digne, Sisteron, Gap, Barcelonnette and the upper County of Nice, but also in a part of the Ardèche, is not exactly a subdialect of Provençal, but rather a closely related Occitan dialect, also known as Vivaro-Alpine. So is the dialect spoken in the upper valleys of Piedmont, Italy (Val Maira, Val Varacha, Val d’Estura, Entraigas, Limon, Vinai, Pignerol, Sestriera). Some people view Gavòt as a variety of Provençal since a part of the Gavot area (near Digne and Sisteron) belongs to historical Provence.
When written in the Mistralian norm (“normo mistralenco“), definite articles are lou in the masculine singular, la in the feminine singular and li in the masculine and feminine plural (lis before vowels). Nouns and adjectives usually drop the Latin masculine endings, but -e remains; the feminine ending is -o. Nouns do not inflect for number, but all adjectives ending in vowels (-e or -o) become -i, and all plural adjectives take -s before vowels.
When written in the classical norm (“norma classica“), definite articles are masculine lo, feminine la, and plural lis. Nouns and adjectives usually drop the Latin masculine endings, but -e remains; the feminine ending is -a. Nouns inflect for number, all adjectives ending in vowels (-e or -a) become -i, and all plural adjectives take -s.
Pronunciation remains the same in both norms (Mistralian and classical), which are only two different ways to write the same language.