Francoprovençal is a Romance language originating in the sixth century and described by linguists in the nineteenth century. There are still many young native speakers in Italy (Aosta Valley), unlike France and Switzerland, where speakers can only be found in the traditionally Catholic cantons of Fribourg and Valais. However, the Protestant cantons of Geneva and Vaud also initiated a discussion about the vanishing language. The press archives illustrate the evolution of language representations, ranging from acceptance of the extinction of this patois to the insistence on preservation efforts and, more recently, hope for revitalization. The present analysis is based on texts from the Journal de Genève and the Gazette de Lausanne containing the keywords “patois” and/or “francoprovençal,” from 1826 to 1998. The corpora reflect identity construction based on language at a regional, national or transnational scale. In the nineteenth century, the imagined language community applied to little fatherlands (cantons), to French-speaking Switzerland (Romandy) or to a cross-border space around Geneva (along with Savoy). In the twentieth century, the appearance of the word “francoprovençal” led some people to broaden their interest to the entire FP area, with some manifestations of a “protonational” construction encompassing Swiss, French and Italian regions.
Part of the book: Advances in Discourse Analysis