At least two Tongues

At least two Tongues

Porte de Bourguillon Martini 1606

My Father's mother tongue is Patois, my Mother's mother tongue was French, but her "grand-mother tongue" was Patois, she was spending a good deal of time with her grand-parents who spoke Patois to her.

The best friend of my Mother grew up speaking French at home, but in the next house, everyone spoke Patois, so she understood it, even as her own parents used it to conceal things from her.

The Father of my Father spoke patois at home as we have seen and when going to school, speaking Patois was forbidden and lead to punishments. French was to be enforced.

The Patois changed as one moved from the lakes south of the Jura and climbed to the Alps. Even when for French, accents changed. The Mother of a friend was explaining to me that when she was a kid, one could determine the village a person came from simply from his accents.

They used to say that one could travel from Paris to Rome and the language was the same romance language, slightly changing from the end of a village to the beginning of the next.

The printed word, then the radio, and finally the television standardized the national languages. The mechanization of agriculture, the industrialization turned the country side into deserts or suburbs. The Patois try to survive as best as they can.

My village belongs to a city founded by a germanic dynasty long extinct. The ruling class was germanic, but west of the city, the population is 'roman'. The city became a state within the Swiss confederation, where german dialects were in force (and Latin as an administrative language).

Slowly, the alliance with France gave military service opportunities there. Young poor people could go the Regiment, and young elite people were their officers. French became the elite language.

The engraving on the right shows a 1606 view of the Porte de Bourguillon of the city. The gate is in the foreground while the river and city are visible in the background. Fun point: the townhouse in the top left corner was the site of the city's role playing game association until recently.

This wonderful Grymlorde post about french names in a campaign prompted me to write here. The author spends a good deal of energy finding french names for a 14th century Camargue setting (kudos). I think that only people sent by the King spoke French (the Paris dialect) there at this point. All the others spoke the regional dialect.

How long did the norman lords speak their variant of French before bowing to English? When does the elite language become unfashionable? Could the King have a conversation with his gardener?

In our campaign there are only human player characters but many languages, Saxon, Norse (danish and norwegian), Gaelic, an Irish dialect. Saxon and Norse are supposed to be close, but I delight in introducing misunderstandings, by asking the players to retell pieces of information to each other.

My Patois in its dialect group.