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Universal Declaration of Human Rights - Francoprovençal, Valais 


Alphonse Dayer

Francoprovençal, Valais 
Language Profile


There are no recent and serious studies that give a precise figure on the number of Francoprovençal speakers. Estimation: France (1988) 60'000, Switzerland (1995) 7'000, Italy (1971) 70'000.


This language is spoken in the territory of the early medieval kingdom of Burgundy, shared between eastern France, northern Italy and western Switzerland. In France, it is spoken in the Rhône-Alpes region and in some parts of the regions of Franche-Comté and Burgundy. 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 Switzerland, francoprovençaux patois were spoken throughout the currently French-speaking 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.