Bilingualism and other idioms: the French-Provencal and Walser
Valle dâ€™Aosta street signs are bilingual (French and Italian) and almost all place names and local surnames are French in origin . The origins of Valdostane bilingualism are in fact historic. In 25 B.C., the Romans founded Augusta Praetoria and began the latinisation of the natives: the Salassi. In 575, Pont-Saint-Martin became the border with the Franchi kingdom and Valle dâ€™Aosta was positioned beside the kingdom of Bourgogne (Gaul-Roman linguistic area), where Latin evolved into French-Provencal (Patois, still spoken today) and,
starting from 1200, was gradually replaced by French in the written language. In 1561, Duke Emanuel Filiberto of Savoy adopted the use of French to replace Latin, Â for all the public acts in the duke|"s kingdom. From the XVII century, French was taught in the CollĂ¨ge Saint-BĂ©nin in Aosta and in country schools, to the extent that at the end of the nineteenth century, the illiteracy rate was almost non-existent. In 1860, with the annexation of Savoia to France, Valle was the only French territory in Italy; the diffusion of the Italian language began and reached its peak
during the twenty years of Fascism which banned the use and teaching of French and saw the systematic translation of place names. In 1948, the special statutes of autonomy sanctioned parity between the Italian and French languages in Valle dâ€™Aosta. An additional linguistic wealth: in some municipalities in the Lys valley the Walser population speak German based dialects, Titsch and Toitschu.