An artisan market was held in Vielha (capital city of the Val d’Aran, a region at the very north-western end of Catalonia) during Easter. By chance, the birthday swinger is an artisan — a fine one, I may say — whose grandmother happens to own an apartment next to Vielha. Guess where I spent the last week.
What makes the Val d’Aran relevant to this blog is their language. Aranese is the Gascon dialect of Occitan spoken in the Val d’Aran. Occitan or Lenga d’òc is a Romance language native to the south of France, Monaco, the Occitan Valleys in Italy and the Val d’Aran in Catalonia.
The Gascon dialect was most probably originated due to cross-influences with Basque. Aranese has also had influences from Catalan and Spanish. Aranese is an official language in Catalonia along with Catalan and Spanish although it’s only spoken in the Val d’Aran and it’s used on maps and in road signs and at schools there. Should you ever visit the region, you’ll hear it in traditional celebrations and festivals, although it’s quite uncommon to run into a conversation in Aranese in the street, unfortunately.
Anyway, what’s cool about Occitan is that it’s related to Catalan as an Occitano-Romance language. Ok, that’s not the coolest thing, but I’m Catalan, you know?