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Linguistic Minorities

— 7 ottobre 2011 | AKU team

People express their identity and culture through their language. It incorporates the sense of traditions from time immemorial. 
Although some minority languages, such as those of small mountain communities, disappear, others are proudly defiant and survive. Whatever, they always leave a mark like a frail pointer on the mountain path. A sign that’s just enough for those who come after not to lose their way and be able to return to their origins. 

The linguistic minorities in the Alps are the truest expression today of civilizations that are still alive, having lived in harmony with the mountains, respecting nature and its rules. 
The knowledge and spirit of conservation of these minorities is the best guarantee that ancient wisdom will be passed on in modern times and become the single true source of salvation and development of the mountains tomorrow.

Walser 
The Walser language has been spoken for more than 700 years at the foot of Mount Rosa. 
The Walser community originally came from the Upper Valais where these once nomadic people had been dwelling at the head of the Rhône valley on the Goms plateau even before the year one thousand. 
Around the thirteenth century they moved from here in another great migration that took them over the Alpine range and saw them spread out along the whole ridge of the Pennine Alps south of Mt. Rosa. 
That is how the Italian communities in the Piedmont and Aosta Valley regions came to settle around the second highest peak of the Alps. 
More than 17,000 persons in Italy, Austria, Switzerland, France and Lichtenstein still today officially speak the WALSER language. 

Ladins 
The Ladin people are considered the most ancient of the Alps. 
Settlers of the Roman Empire, they originally lived in the Noric region (today in Austria west of Vienna), but starting in the fifth century A.D. they moved along the eastern Alps fleeing from the frequent barbarian invasions. 
Ladin is today spoken by more than 30,000 persons in Italy in the five alleys of the historic Ladin-speaking area in the Dolomites between Trentino Alto Adige and Veneto, as well as in Switzerland in some areas of the Grisons Canton. 
In Alto Adige/Südtirol, Ladin is recognized as the official language in the Gardena and Badia valleys. 

Occitans 
The Occitan civilization developed in the Middle Ages with a refined culture that influenced the whole of Europe in terms of literature and music. 
The Occitan language is still spoken in a vast geographical area that stretches from the Italian Maritime Alps in the Piedmont region, goes across the French Alps and the Gulf of Lyon as far as the Pyrenean valleys. 
This has resulted in Occitan, otherwise known as Langue d’oc or Provençal language, being highly fragmented, to the extent that considerable variations can be found not only from valley to valley, but even between neighboring villages. 
Overall the Occitan language in all its variations is spoken, whether officially or otherwise, by about 1 million 500 thousand persons.

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