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Arpitania Movement (Italy)

Last modified: 2003-07-12 by dov gutterman
Keywords: arpitania movement | italy | cross | val daosta | savoy | aosta vulley | harpitanya |
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by Ivan Sache

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I found the flag of the "Movement Harpitanya", that operates in Aosta Valley (Valle d’Aosta) in Savoie.
Jaume Olle', 19 Febuary 1997

"Arpitany" is historical region of the arpitanian language (I suppose that it never formed a separate political entity). This includes roughly the Aosta valley in Italy, Savoy (both departments) in France, and Romandy (French speaking Switzerland). Arpitanian, also known as Franco-provenc,al or Savoyan, is a latin language, making a "bridge" between Occitan, Piemontese and French (aka Oil). As far as I know, it is currently in a similar demographic situation as Occitan, i.e., still widely spoken, especially by older people in the countryside, but regarded by most speakers to be "patois", a lesser form of French. (That's why the italian government's move to declare French instead of arpitanian, as the official language of Val d'Aoste / Valle de Aosta region left nobody satisfied...).
Naturally, there are intellectuals favouring the rehabilitation of the language, its literary fledging, official protection and use, dialectal standartization, speaker's consciousness and terminology evolution. "Movement Harpitanya" might be one of these organizations, I dont know. Their flag has clear savoyan connections, and I wouldn't be surprised at all it it show to be blue instead of grey. As for the unusual spelling, with an "H", I really never seen it that way, but it might the result of a (recent?) orthographic reform.
Antonio Martins, 20 May 1999

Franco-provencal is different from patois and different from the language usually spoken in the area. I quote parts of the juicy book "Dictionnaire du Chablaisien" by A. Depraz, a collection of words specifically used in the Chablais (northern part of Savoy) and contiguous areas:
".The root of French language is common Latin - source of roman languages - used by Romans in all-day life and imposed in Gaule by the conquestors, the colons and the merchants. This Latin quickly evolved in different spoken languages, in regional varieties or dialects, or even in more localized varieties, the patois. This led to the birth of the well-known oil and oc languages, to which we must add franco-provencal. These three languages were influenced, respectively, by germanic inputs of the Franks in North, Wisigoths in South, and Burgonds in our region [Savoy]. In 1539, the order of Villers-Cotterets was highly significant for the language history because French instead of Latin was imposed as the official language to be used for writing official documents. This French was thez "Francien", the dialect of Ile-de-France. At that time, the Duchy of Savoy was completely fragmented and a great part of it was occupied by the Frenchies. However, in all-day life, patois was still spoken, a very high diversity of words and pronunciations being established over the area. The official language was progressively ruled by the French Academy and its dictionnary and good use definition, and French became an idealized language. Beside this idealized language coexisted in all regions and over centuries other spoken languiages, the patois. At that time, the rural population was bilingual patois-french, and this lasted until the beginning of this century. In this context of permanent exchange between two languages were created the regional spoken languages, an all-day French that everyone maintains from childhood [...] Concerning Savoy, French had been official language long before the annexion in 1860, and Savoy was always turned towards France.. Since XVIth century, French had been the language of Court, bourgeois, writers... For a great part of the population, the mother language was one of the several patois created from franco-provencal, but it was progressively replaced by a French quite different from the"beau langage", but rich of multiple borrowed words and deformations."
I personnally speak "regional French" from Savoy and use several words that a Breton can not understand but which are very familar to a Romand Swiss (you find them in the wonderful books of C.F. Ramuz and N. Bouvier, for instance). I don't use them at purpose, for ethnic revendication but because they seem evident to me. My maternal grand-parents were of urban origin and did not speak a word of patois. My paternal grand-parents were of rural origin but they spoke patois very unfrequently. My grand-father used it when he was bored by tourists (he was a cobbler). The patois which is still spoken by very old people in the mountains is different from the franco-provencal which is often used in Val d'Aoste.
Ivan Sache, 20 May 1999

From Flaggenmitteilung: Harpitanya. The (agency?) that represents the ethnic linguistic minorities in the Aosta valley in Geneva and in Wallis, has a flag too: it has the emblem of Savoy: in Red a White cross; to the hoist a vertical black bar, in which on top of each other three white 5-pointed stars. The symbolism of the flag is curious: red and white signify the colors of the Aosta Valley (the center of the movement); red means the basse (?). The cross symbolizes an old megalithic sign.
Jaume Olle' (translated by Jarig Bakker), 20 September 1999

"Moveman Harpitanya" (Francophone Alpine separatists) - Swiss/French/Italian region - vertical stripe at hoist black. IMHO The black stripe seems more logical by reference to the Valle d'Aosta traditional flag .
This flag is listed under number 43 at the chart Flags of Aspirant Peoples [asp].
Ivan Sache, 19 September 1999

The vertical stripe in the Harpitanya flag must be black according to its creator and political leader Joze' Harrieta. Flag was designed by Harrieta in the summer of 1970. The three white stars mean the three parts that is dividing the historical Harpitanya (Swiss-French-Italian).
Jaume Olle' , 9 March 2001

Please note that Arpitania (local spelling prefered by arpitanists: Harpitanya) is a linguistical territory, it never existed as an independent entity: It indeed largely corresponds to historical Savoy (hence the savoyan cross on the Arpitanian Movement flag), but Savoy was not an arpitanian national state (actually Savoy disappeared more or less by the same time when the very concept of national states arouse).
Antonio Martins, 12 March 2001

Well, it seems that Savoy should be included two times in this "Arpitania" - which, by the way, has strictly no audience there. Haute-Savoie and Savoie (there is no "Basse-Savoie", Low Savoy) are the two French departements made after the incorporation of Savoy to France in 1865. Note that the independentists of the Savoisian League reject this division of historical Savoy and would probably not agree with the Great Arpitanians. Chablais, Faucigny and Genevois were the three traditional provinces of what is now the departement of Haute-Savoie. Tarentaise, Maurienne, and Savoie Propre (I suppose this is Pelvia) were the three traditional provinces of what is now the departement of Savoie.
The term Hiota (with a long "o" and the final "a" nearly dropped) is used colloquially to design Haute-Savoie. Francoprovencal is extincted there but a lot of local words have survived. I call "local words" those words common for me but not understood by my colleagues from other parts of France.
Ivan Sache, 18 April 2002

"Great Arpitania" Flag

resized by Jarig Bakker, 20 June 2003

Here is the flag of the Great Arpitania (dated 1995) - white and red, whith the Sun of the Alps on the red. The flag of the Little Arpitania appears on top, but it includes a number of mistakes. It dates from "1972", not from 1970, the name of its creator must be spelled "Josèf Hanriet", not Jozé Harrieta, and that of his mouvement "Mouvament Arpitania" (without H), not Moveman Harpitanya. Little Arpitania (Petita Arpitania in the Francoproveçal language) is formed by the valleys of Chablais (Le Chablès), Faucigny (Fôcegny), Genevois (Genevês), High Savoy (Hiôta-Savouè), Low Savoy (Bâssa-Savouè), Tarentaise (La Tarantèsa), Maurienne (Môrièna) and Pelvie (Pelvia) in France; Valais (Valês) and Pays de Bex (Bexê) in Switzerland; and Val d'Aosta (Vâl d'Aoutha), Valdesia (Vâldèsia) and Canavese (Canavês) in Italy. Great Arpitania (Granta Arpitania) also includes Lyonnais (Lyonês), a part of Burgondy (Borgogne) and of the Franche-Comte (Franche-Comtât) and parts of the rest of Dauphine (Dôfenâ) and of the Romand Switzerland (Romandie).
Xabier Zabaltza, 18 April 2002