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Native toFrance
RegionAuvergne, Puy-de-Dôme, Haute-Loire, Allier, Cantal, Communities in Limousin
Native speakers
80,000 (2004)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3auv (retired); subsumed in oci

Auvergnat (/ˌvɛrnˈjɑː/)[4] or Occitan auvergnat[5] (endonym: auvernhat [6]) is a northern dialect of Occitan spoken in central and southern France, in particular in the former administrative region of Auvergne.

Currently, research shows that there is not really a true Auvergnat dialect but rather a vast northern Occitan linguistic area. The word "Auvergnat" is above all a local historiographical creation.[7][8] According to linguist Jean Roux, "It is by simplification that we use this term, because in no case Auvergnat can be considered as an autonomous linguistic entity".[9]

With around 80,000 speakers in the Auvergne region at the beginning of the 21st century, it is considered to be severely endangered.


Auvergnat falls under the following categories and subcategories: Indo-European, Italic, Romance, Italo-Western, Gallo-Iberian, Gallo-Romance, Occitan.


Several troubadours were from the Auvergne, including Castelloza, Dalfi d'Alvernhe, the Monje de Montaudon, the Vesques de Clarmon, Peire d'Alvernhe, Peire Rogier and Pons de Capduelh. They did not, however, compose in the Auvergnat dialect, but in the standard literary register of Old Occitan.[10]

Official documents in Auvergnat become common around 1340 and continue to be found down to 1540, when the transition to French was complete. The high point for the use of Auvergnat as an official language was between 1380 and 1480.[11] There is a passion play, Passion d'Auvergne, first performed in Montferrand in 1477, that is written mainly in French but which contains an Auvergnat section of 66 lines. Auvergnat had been replaced by French in official usage in the Montferrand already in 1388. French had also supplanted Auvergnat as the language of the upper classes, but it remained the language of rural communities.[12]

Geographical distribution

North-Occitan dialect
Auvergnat dialect historiographical boundaries
Auvergnat dialect delimitation
Arverno-Mediteraneù Occitan linguistic group
Arverno-Lemosin dialect (Jacques Allières researches)

The effective borders of Auvergnat do not completely coincide with those of the current Region of Auvergne or the historical region of Auvergne but can be described as follows:

A more precise view on Auvergnat boundaries

There are strong oppositions between Pierre Bonnaud[13] (for whom the Auvergnat is a language of its own, see the light orange line on the map – note it is including the easternmost part of the Marchois dialect) and for instance Roger Teulat.[14]

Language boundaries

Light blue area labelled fr is for French-Langue d'Oïl. Light purple area labelled frp is for Francoprovençal.

Dialect boundaries

Definition boundaries

These are not characteristic of Auvergnat as a whole but allow for defining a boundary:

Note that most Occitanists use rather 7 than 8 to define the southern boundary.

Internal variation

Note some of the definition boundaries allow defining an internal variation. The most traditional one between Lower or Northern Auvergnat and Upper or Southern Auvergnat is the mutation of s before [k], [p], and [t] (line 9). Lower Auvergnat, defined by Teulat, is the light green area labelled 1 on the map. Upper Auvergnat, defined by Teulat, is the light brown-yellow area labelled 2 on the map. A broader area (light yellow) is generally defined. A Northwestern Auvergnat may be defined as well by 5 and 6. The Northeastern (East of 5 and 6, North of 9) has, according to Bonnaud, a stronger influence from French phonetics (a bit like Marchois).


Auvergnat is most often categorized in the Northern Occitan dialect group, along with Limousin and Vivaro-Alpine.

There are two primary distinctions in Auvergnat:

The suggestion that Auvergnat is an independent language, distinct from Occitan, has found little resonance with linguists, especially Romance linguists. It is strongly defended by those who espouse the norme bonnaudienne a standardization of Auvergnat.

Linguistic vitality and usage

An understanding of the vitality and overall usage of Auvergnat can be garnered from a survey carried out in 2006 in the Auvergne region.[15]

The largest group of the two languages spoken in the Auvergne region is referred to as patois (78% of the population) compared with other regional terms, with certain cultural identities emerging, such as auvergnat (10%), occitan (8%), bourbonnais (5%) or langue d'oc (4%).

The regional language, whether Occitan (in the whole of the Auvergne region) or Oïl (the north of Allier), represents a strong presence in the region:

A large part of the population that understands or speaks even a little or, moreover, fluently, neither know how to write nor read in that language.

Language learning is found to be essential within the home, according to the survey, (grandparents noted as 61%, or other family members at 50%) with a very weak result from the schools (10%). Herein is found the problem of language-transmission when dependent upon State sponsorship. 40% of adults who did not teach their language to their children report regretting it at the time of the survey. This feeling is reported more strongly among the 35 or less demographic, at 58%. The desire to learn the local language is reported strongly, with increasing representation among the young, reported at 23%. According to the survey the desire to incorporate local language learning in schools is as follows: Haute-Loire (53%), Puy-de-Dôme (51%) et Cantal (74%). The desire to teach to their own children is strong (41%) and is stronger still with the 35 and under demographic (58%). 71% of the region's inhabitants are favorable to the idea of maintaining the regional language and culture, with a stronger result in the 35-and-unders (76%). To achieve this desire, different institutions are expected to play a role (in percentage of those surveyed):


The following are authors who have published in Auvergnat:


Poets using Auvergnat:


Songwriters using Auvergnat:

See also


  1. ^ Auvergnat at Ethnologue (15th ed., 2005) Closed access icon
  2. ^ "Occitan (post 1500)". IANA language subtag registry. 18 August 2008. Retrieved 11 February 2019.
  3. ^ Error: Unable to display the reference properly. See the documentation for details.
  4. ^ "Auvergnat". Dictionary.
  5. ^ Dominique Auzias, Jean-Paul Labourdette Petit Futé Auvergne - 2017 Flammarion Groupe 2017
  6. ^ "nh" in Auvergnat is pronounced /ɲ/, as is "gn" in French
  7. ^ Jean Roux (Paul Valéry University Montpellier 3),Huit siècles de littérature occitane en Auvergne et Velay, éditions EMCC, Lyon, 2015 (ISBN 978-2-357405-09-7).
  8. ^ Jean Roux (Paul Valéry University Montpellier 3), L'auvergnat de poche, Assimil, coll. « Assimil évasion », Chennevières-sur-Marne, 2002, 246 p. (ISBN 2-7005-0319-8), (ISSN 1281-7554), (BNF 38860579)
  9. ^ Jean Roux, 2002. French text : "C'est par simplification que l'on utilise ce vocable, car en aucun cas l'auvergnat ne peut être considéré comme une entité linguistique autonome."
  10. ^ Simon Gaunt and Sarah Kay, The Troubadours: An Introduction (Cambridge University Press, 1999).
  11. ^ Philippe Olivier, Dictionnaire d'ancien occitan auvergnat: Mauriacois et Sanflorain (1340–1540) (De Gruyter, 2009), pp. xiii–xiv.
  12. ^ Wendy Pfeffer, "The Passion of Occitan", in Anna Klosowska and Valerie Wilhite (eds.), Glossator: Practice and Theory of the Commentary, Vol. 4: Occitan Poetry (2011), pp. 131–38.
  13. ^ Bonnaud, Pierre, "Géographie linguistique. L'exemple de l'Auvergne" in Revue d'Auvergne, 87, 4, 1973 pp 287–339
  14. ^ Teulat, Rogièr, "Per una definicion d'un espaci occitan del centre-nòrd (auvernhat)", in Quasèrns de linguistica occitana, 10, 1981, Clermont-Ferrand (ISSN 0338-2419).
  15. ^ IFOP 2006 Survey Archived December 20, 2008, at the Wayback Machine for the Auvergne Institut d'études occitanes. (in French)