Reviving the Occitan Language with Reggae

Musical Groups Perform in the Patois of Southern France

Listen: <b>Web Extra</b>: Hear 'Duma, Duma' by Bombe 2 Bal, Ange B and Claude Sicre (Recorded in Paris, October 2003)

Jali, one of the founders of Massilia Sound System, an Occitan rap group.

Jali, one of the founders of Massilia Sound System, an Occitan rap group. Courtesy Homeland Productions hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy Homeland Productions

If Napoleon hadn't come along, half of France might still speak the Occitan language. But Napoleon did come along, and he forged a highly centralized state. Paris became its capital and the language of the north became what we now know as French.

Jali, one of the founders of Massilia Sound System, an Occitan rap group.

Jali, one of the founders of Massilia Sound System, an Occitan rap group. Courtesy Homeland Productions hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy Homeland Productions

Two hundred years later, some natives of the southern region of France are challenging the one-language decree, using a blend of reggae, folk, and the music of the medieval troubadours. As part of Worlds of Difference, a series on global cultural change created by Homelands Productions, producer Julian Crandall Hollick visited Occitanie. He speaks with Massilia Sound System and The Fabulous Trobadors (the Occitan spelling) — groups that have preserved their regional tongue through music.

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