Sunday, 23 November 2008

Nissa La Bella

Given its position on the Mediterranean and mild climate it isn't surprising that Nice is one of the earliest human settlements on the planet so considering the time it's been around it shouldn't be surprising that it comes with a lot of chequered history. For instance, the county of Nice has been passed back and fro between France and Italy like a game of Pass the Parcel with the city eventually ending up French in 1860.
Part of the city's cultural baggage is that it comes with its own dialect: Niçard, Nissart, Niçois or Nizzardo depending on which written form you prefer...
The dialect is actually a sub dialect of Occitan or Provençal, the language spoken in the Mediterranean region of France, Italy and Spain. Here's the link if you'd like to know about it. And this is a link to the song Nissa la Bella, Nice the beautiful, an anthem to Nice, which you can hear sung in Niçois and even join in with the karaoke version should you so desire.

So what's this got to do with the photo, I hear you asking. If you look at the road sign it's actually bilingual, the top in French and underneath in Niçois. The language is enjoying a renaissance locally with a significant number of pupils opting to learn it at school while a significant amount of Niçois are bilingual in French and Niçois.. It's impossible to give the exact numbers because apparently people do lie about whether or not they speak the language!

I find it fascinating that the more we embrace the idea of being Europeans, the tighter we cling to local cultures to reaffirm our national identities.


Catherine said...

Your last paragraph is absolutely true. Spain and Italy are champions with that particularity.

Tanya said...

Very interesting post. It can almost apply to us here in the US, trying to hold on to our cultural identity when so many people are changing it. I guess that's just the way of the world ;)

babooshka said...

I remember walking there. Spot om about clingig to local cultures. Me I'm feel French, then Brummie, but never from the isle of man.