Institut d'Estudis Occitans
Label Òc per l'Occitan
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Occitan folklore collecting


Why and how ?

The language family transmission has been decreasing in rural Limousin since the 1940’s. The decline in town has been even more dramatic but the language was still in use in fairs and markets until the beginning of the 21st century (adverts in local papers for Limoges shopkeepers were still bilingual in the 1960’s).

In spite of a strong decline in the last thirty years, Occitan remains in daily use for numerous inhabitants of Limousin. The Occitan culture, so preponderant in the countryside until the 60’s-70’s, has been dwindling and in some parts (Montagne Limousine), is nearing extinction. The language has retreated to the village sphere, to neighbour or family relationships, most of the speakers being over seventy years of age.

In view of such an alarming record, we felt compelled to set about collecting the Limousin Occitan heritage.

Our first collecting was carried out without real field survey methods and the results weren’t satisfying. So we learned about ethnological survey with Christian Bedel – author of the remarcable collection « Al Canton » -, from the Aveyron Occitan Institute and Yves Lavalade, a researcher in Occitan toponymy.


  • From 2002 onwards : Surveys in retirement homes, collective surveys in communes, surveys in private homes (ressource persons: singers, musicians, craftsmen, etc.).
    On January 1st 2012, about 80 communes had been investigated in various parts of the Limousin and bordering départements (Dordogne, Charente).
  • 2003 : Toponymic survey in the 11 communes of the « Canton d’Ayen » (19). Carried out by Yves Lavalade in collaboration with the Limousin I.E.O..
  • 2004-2005 : Collection of ethnolinguistic material in the 44 communes of the « Pays de Guéret ».
    Commissioned by the Creuse General Council for the Departmental Preservation of Heritage.
  • 2007-2008 : Ethnolinguistic surveys of water in traditional society in the « Montagne limousine » (25 communes).
    Investigation carried out in 25 communes within the bounds of the « Plan Loire Grandeur Nature » project.
cors d'oc levadas e binhatas 036

Rivulets in a meadow in the « Montagne limousine »

  • 2009-2011 : Toponymic survey in 82 communes of the Limousin « Parc Naturel Régional de Millevaches ». This survey is mainly about the names of villages, communes, hills and streams.

Types of surveys

There are three types :

  • surveys in communes or private homes dealing with the Christian calendar and related rites and events ;
  • theme surveys: water in the «Montagne Limousine», toponymy, etc. ;
  • specific surveys with target ressource persons : storytellers, singers, musicians, craftspeople, etc.

Promotion of this linguistic and cultural heritage

The aim of the Limousin I.E.O. is of course to restore as much of this immaterial heritage to the largest number of people possible, so that this part of our identity doesn’t sink into oblivion and on the contrary can be an asset to future generations.

  • Printed publication :

Most of our surveys aimed at printed publication.

Yves Lavalade, Noms de lieux du canton d’Ayen, Lucien Souny Ed., 2003.
Out of print edition.

Jan-Francés Vinhau, Michel Manville, Langue & mémoire du pays de Guéret, Creuse General Council Ed., 2007.
Out of print edition.

Pascal Boudy, Jan-Màri Caunet, Jan-Francés Vinhau, Memòria de l’aiga : Enquête ethnolinguistique sur l’eau en Montagne Limousine, Doublevébé Récup Ed., 2009.
→ Buy

Jan-Francés Vinhau, De La Chassagne au Monteil… : Noms de lieux du Parc naturel régional de Millevaches en Limousin, IEO Lemosin Ed., 2017.
→ Item details

Various contributions to other works :
Comptinas, CRDP Aquitaine Ed., 2010
Out of print edition.

  • Digitisation :

About a hundred hours of audio recordings and films, numerous photographic documents and texts are being digitised and put on line at the moment.

→ Go and visit « La biaça » (the haversack in Occitan), you’ll find what is available on line to date.

  • Film production :

We have been producing and directing documentary films in Limousin Occitan (with French subtitles) since 2011. A few of them are online in the section « Filmes / Vidéothèque » from « La biaça ».

Since the end of the year 2012 and  in partnership with « 7ALimoges », we have been producing a series called « En Lemosin » (in Limousin). You can watch back its episodes on the channel website.

En Lemosin : votre série en occitan sur 7ALimoges par ieolemosin

You can give us a hand

You know people likely to be « investigated » :

  • because they have a know-how ;
  • because they speak the language fluently ;

Don’t hesitate to let us know.

You own documents relating to the Occitan language or culture :

  • audio or video recordings that you made ;
  • old pictures ;
  • old books, newspapers…

You can lend them to us to be duplicated or donate them if you like.