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(05/06/2021) Hello again! As always I am wishing you the best.

There's a lot going on but here's something interesting I found: The history of the troubadours. According to Wikipedia, they were performers and songwriters who spoke a language called Old Occitan. Occitan exists as a Romance language today spoken in some regions of France, Italy, and Spain. There are many dialects, such as Provençal in the Provence region of France, or Languedoucien, spoken in the Languedoc region of France. There is even Judæo-Occitan, also called Shuadit, which was spoken by some French Jews - it's extinct now.

Occitan, like all other Romance languages, is descended from the Vulgar Latin spoken in the Roman Empire. Romance languages such as Spanish are grouped into the Ibero-Romance category along with Galician and Portuguese. French meanwhile is grouped into the Gallo-Romance languages along with all its Oïl counterparts. Occitan is a part of the Occitano-Romance group (what a surprise) with Catalan.

The recounting of how Occitan's label came to be is that it was a part of a group of Romance languages who used the word "oc" for "yes", derived from Vulgar Latin "hoc", meaning this. So it was called lenga d'oc. If you're curious, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese were called the languages, because their way of saying yes came from Latin's sic (thus). French was called the oïl language for its use of oui as yes, which comes from the Latin hoc illud, meaning this [is] that, this is it.

Occitan today is a scattered language, in relative decline. Estimates of living speakers range from 100,000 to 800,000, and it has no official status nor standard. Many, if not all of its dialects are endangered, and its closest living relative is Catalan, which has many more native speakers.

Now back to the troubadours. They were active during the 10th to 14th century, when the Black Death took hold of Europe. They sang songs about love and adultery, chivalry and cowardliness, and there were many genres ranging from comedic to dramatic. The Occitan of the Middle Ages differs quite a bit from modern Occitan but I think that they are mutually intelligible for the most part. Here is a stanza from a troubadour named Guilhen de Peiteu, titled:

"Companho, farai un vers qu'er covinen (Comrades, I shall write a fitting verse)."

Companho, farai un vers qu'er covinen, = Comrades, I shall write a fitting verse,
  • companho = comrade
  • farai = faire, meaning to do, to execute, to perform.
  • vers = verse
  • qu'er = que + er, that which is (?)
  • covinen = convenir, meaning to fit

Et aura-i mais de foudatz no-y a de sen, = That will have more of folly than sense,
  • et = and
  • aura-i = from aver, meaning to have.
  • mais de = more than, more of
  • foudatz = folly
  • no-y = not-and, similar to nand (?)
  • sen = sense

Et er totz mesclatz d'amor e de joy e de joven. = A mix of love, joy, and youth.
  • totz = all, total
  • mesclatz = from mesclar, meaning to mix
  • d'amor = de amor, of love
  • joy = joy
  • joven = youth

Note that I am in no way a professional or even experienced translator, nor a specialist on the Occitan language - just a student that has too much time on their hands. The translation here is not "optimized" in any way for poetry. For a more pleasant and accurate translation, click here. As I study more of Occitan, I will probably come back here to add more detail to the grammar of the translations. My thanks to William S. Annis for one of the most straightforwards and comprehensive guide of Old Occitan online, and the Glosbe Occitan-English online dictionary.

If you're interested in what the songs actually sounded like, click here for an invidious link to a troubadour song called Tant m'abelis, one of my favorites. In English, the title means So much I love. The Unicorn Ensemble has an entire album called Music of the Troubadours where they cover many notable troubadour songs. They are a group that covers Medieval and Renaissance music with instruments of that time.

If you're interested in more Early Music, then I also recommend Triste Plaisir by Gilles Binchois - the lyrics are nice too. Click here if you'd like to listen, here for the lyrics in both the French and English.