Our village lies on a linguistic border that divides Piemontese from the Occitan language. The dialect spoken in Montaldo is Piemontese but in seven nearby villages they speak a dialect of the Occitan language called Kyé (alt. Quié). This small Kyé community comprises the eastern-most extent of a vast linguistic and cultural region called Occitania. In all, there are thirteen Occitan Valleys in western Cuneo Province that form part of Occitania. These remote and rugged mountain valleys offer some of the most breathtaking scenery in all of Piemonte.
Occitania encompasses most of the south of France as well as the Aran Valley in Catalonia and the Occitan Valleys in Italy. The area covers 77,000 sq. miles and has a population of more than 14 million. Today, about half of that population has some knowledge of the Occitan language and around 3 million people* have a proficient knowledge. Although never unified politically, the language, culture and traditions of Occitania have been kept alive in this expansive territory.
Also known as the Lingua d’Òc, Occitan is a romance language closely related to Catalan. Historically, Occitan was the language of the troubadours and one of its earliest written examples is a work by Raimon Vidal de Bezaudun called Razós de trobar (circa 1210). The name Occitania had already appeared in Latin texts by the time Dante Alighieri wrote De vulgari eloquentia in the early 14th century. In the essay, Dante described three Romance languages by their words for “yes”, namely, the Lingua d’Òc (Occitan), the Lingua d’Oïl (French) and the Lingua di Si (Italian).
*Minority Rights Group International