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Poetevin-Séntunjhaes[1] or Parlanjhe[2] (native names; in Standard French: Poitevin-Saintongeais, Parlange or occasionally Aguiainais, Aguiain) is a Romance linguistic variety spoken in midwest France, in a territory called Aguiéne (or Aguiaine). It is variously viewed as an independent, Romance language close to French or, according to other views, as a dialect of the French language; it also contains important features inherited from the Occitan language.

Poetevin-Séntunjhaes means “from the regions of Poitou and Saintonge”, parlanjhe means “language” or “way of talking” (implicitly, “our language”).


For more information, please see Aguiéne.

The area where Poetevin-Séntunjhaes is spoken, in midwest France, is sometimes named Aguiéne (native name) or Aguiaine (Standard French name).

Aguiéne can be viewed on this map.

It comprises the traditional provinces of Poitou, Saintonge, Aunis and Angoumois.


All linguists agree on the fact that, within the Romance family, Poetevin-Séntunjhaes is a variety of the “Langue d'Oïl” group with an important substratum from Occitan.[3]

But specialists of the Romance languages disagree on whether Poetevin-Séntunjhaes is a dialect of the French language or an independent language.

  • According to the traditional classification of Romance linguistics, “French” and “Langue d'Oïl” are synonyms, both names designate one and the same language, which includes several dialects. In this view, Poetevin-Séntunjhaes should be considered as a dialect of French or Langue d'Oïl.[4][5][6][7]
  • According to a view supported by several linguists since the 1970's, there is not one Langue d'Oïl but several “Langues d'Oïl” (in plural). The several varieties traditionally labelled as a “French dialects” would become several “Langues d'Oïl”. Therefore, “French” is limited to Paris and Ile-de-France; Poetevin-Séntunjhaes and “French” are considered as two distinct languages, pertaining to the same “Oïl” group, within the Romance family. Supporters of Poetevin-Séntunjhaes usually subscribe to this second conception.[8]

Current use and status

Poetevin-Séntunjhaes was used by the majority of the population until the beginning of the 20th century. Its use has dwindled dramatically in front of Standard French since the 20th century.

However, a cultural movement has developped since the 19th century in order to promote the use of Poetevin-Séntunjhaes. Nowadays, Poetevin-Séntunjhaes is supported by networks of speakers, cultural activists, writers and singers and courses for adults and youngsters. The regional authorities of Poitou-Charentes give some funding to the cultural associations which promote Parlanjhe.

Poetevin-Séntunjhaes is not protected by any law nor official status. Nevertheless, it is recognized in a list of “regional languages” established by the French Ministry of Culture.


The early stages of Poetevin-Séntunjhaes are not very well known. They are related with a withdrawal of the Occitan language in the current Poetevin-Séntunjhaes territory during the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries.

Occitan was spoken at least until the end of the 12th century in the southern half of the current Poetevin-Séntunjhaes territory: the former language boundary went near the cities of Rochefort, Niort and Poitiers and Poitiers was probably Occitan-speaking. However, some authors even assume that Occitan could have been spoken in the whole Poetevin-Séntunjhaes territory.

At the end of the 12th century, Occitan began to withdraw progressively in front of Langue d'Oïl; the earlier Rochefort-Niort-Poitiers limit was displaced and the current Oïl-Occitan boundary was probably stabilized in the 15th century.

In this large zone of language replacement, Poetevin-Séntunjhaes emerged progressively in written documents, from the 13th century on, as a variety of Langue d'Oïl, although bearing a lot of remnants of Occitan.

Writing system

A spelling has been codified since the 1970's and the 1980's, thanks to one of the main Parlanjhe associations, the UPCP (Union for the Popular Culture of Poitou-Charentes-Vendée).


  1. Poetevin-Séntunjhaes may be pronounced [pwetəvɛ̃ sɛ̃tõʒej].
  2. Parlanjhe may be pronounced [paʀlɑ̃ʒ].
  3. PIGNON Jacques (1960) L’évolution phonétique des parlers du Poitou, Paris: D’Artrey
  4. BEC Pierre (1970-71) (collab. Octave NANDRIS, Žarko MULJAČIĆ), Manuel pratique de philologie romane, Paris: Picard, 2 vol.
  5. ALLIÈRES Jacques (2001) Manuel de linguistique romane, coll. Bibliothèque de grammaire et de linguistique, Paris: Honoré Champion
  6. POSNER Rebecca (1996) The Romance languages, coll. Cambridge language surveys, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  7. HOLTUS Günter, & METZELTIN Michael, & SCHMITT Christian (1991) (dir.) Lexikon der Romanistischen Linguistik [LRL], Tübingen: Niemeyer, 8 vol.
  8. For instance: NOWAK Éric (2010) Histoire et géographie des parlers poitevins et saintongeais, Monenh: Éditions des Régionalismes