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Universal Declaration of Human Rights - Francoprovençal, Fribourg


Anne-Marie Yerly

Francoprovençal, Fribourg
Language Profile


There are no recent and serious studies that give a precise figure on the number of Francoprovençal speakers. Mainly the south of the canton of Fribourg (Switzerland), it is estimated that :
- between 2 and 3 thousand people are able to understand and to read it;
- a few hundred of them are still speaking it;
- about one hundred of them are writing it and are involved in teaching Francoprovençal and in
yearly meetings where the patois is used for public reading, song, poetry, text writing and theatre performance.


This language is spoken in the territory of the early medieval kingdom of Burgundy, shared between eastern France, northern Italy and western Switzerland. In Italy, Francoprovençal is spoken in the Aosta Valley, in the southern valleys of the Massif du Grand Paradis, in the valley of Cenischia (provincia di Torino) and in the villages of Apulian Faeto and Celle di San Vito. In France, it is spoken in the Rhône-Alpes region and in some parts of the regions of Franche-Comté and Burgundy. In Switzerland, francoprovençaux patois were spoken throughout the currently Frenchspeaking part of Switzerland, with the exception of the canton of Jura. Today, these dialects are still used in some areas of the cantons of Valais and Fribourg. In the canton of Geneva, where the Francoprovençal patois disappeared as vernacular, it remained in the traditional anthem Cé qu'è lainô (meaning: whichever is higher) of the Republic and Canton of Geneva (Switzerland), which tells the story of the Escalade commemorating the victory of the City of Geneva against the Duke of Savoy in 1602.


This language, Francoprovençal, is also designated as Arpitan. The speakers of the local dialect call their language "patois". The origin of Francoprovençal is from a more classical Latin than the Latin spoken by the Gallo-romans in the territory of the future France, from which emerged two dialect groups: the langue d'oc and the langue d'oïl, from which belongs French. Thus Francoprovençal is not a bastardized French, it is a language by itself, like Catalan is.