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Jean-Claude Dugros, chronicler and translator into Occitan, was awarded the “cigale d’or de Nimes” (“golden cicada”) in Neuvic on 19 August 2006. He had already been voted “Majoral du Félibrige” on 25 May in Martigues. The Félibrige is a movement that defends and promotes the Occitan language ; it was founded in 1854 by Frédéric Mistral. The “majoraux” are “félibres” – Occitan speaking authors – whose writings and translations have earned them an assignment, a mission : to vigilantly protect and preserve their culture and their language. This decision is confirmed by the presentation of a cicada, which is only able to migrate if the félibre who wore it has died. There were originally fifty cicadas, many bearing the name of the Occitan locality where they were born, from the Alps to the Pyrenees. They have been travelling around like this for a hundred and fifty years – in a seemingly low-profile ballet which is potentially imperishable.
Cigale d'or Jean-Claude Dugros was clearly delighted to receive his cicada and fully aware of the task before him which he vowed to accomplish until the day he dies. His speech was the occasion to express peaceful but firm resistance in the face of the dangers threatening the Occitan language.


The presentation of a cicada takes place in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, to the music of the Occitan tongue and the merry melodies of the hurdy gurdy, the bagpipes and the accordion. And yet this is a solemn moment. When the writer, Frédéric Mistral, founded the Félibrige he laid out a plan of attack to revive the Occitan language. The methods may have been resolutely gentle, but they required an enormous amount of translation work and a huge literary output. There was, and is, so much at stake that the “félibres” he named were not just poets, but also fierce fighters with a hard job ahead of them.

The procedure is as follows. A “capoulier” is appointed to preside over a battalion of “majoraux” : Occitan speaking writers who have merited a cicada thanks to the quality and the sheer size of their literary work. When a “majoral” passes away they say his cicada has been widowed and three “majoraux” propose a “félibre” whom they deem worthy of the title of “majoral” and of receiving this cicada. And this is how Jean-Claude Dugros, a Bergerac man born in Agen, was chosen by three majoraux, Zefir Bosc from Rouergue, Jean Fourié from Languedoc and Claude Fiorenzano from Provence, who all got to know him through his work. Besides assuming his responsibilities as chief editor of Le Bournat’s quarterly, Jean-Claude Dugros has written “Le Bournat, école félibréenne du Périgord, son histoire, naissance et envol 1901/1914” (“Le Bournat, Périgord félibrien school - its history, its beginnings and its expansion.”) and has also translated into Occitan books by the Périgord storywriter, Claude Seignolle.


So there is no form of nepotism between “majoraux” who are all part of the same brotherhood. They may not actually know each other but they have banded together to achieve their aim. And more than anything else, they put their entire trust in their newly elected member. The cicada is not a title or a distinction ; it means that you have embarked upon a mission, devoting yourself to a cause and doing everything in your power to revive the Occitan culture and language.

So this stalwart group of southerners with their singsong accents show the dogged determination and the courage that is necessary to fight with words, the words of their language, so it can shine forth once more. It no longer holds sway as the language of European culture as it did a thousand years ago, but it’s still there in its Occitan cradle.


According to a survey conducted by the Dordogne Department Council, 34% of the Périgord people speak Occitan, 54% understand it. Hopefully it will be back on the school curriculum, bridging the gap between the two generations.

One thing is for sure : Jean-Claude Dugros, armed with his golden cicada, will never give up the fight to keep Occitan alive.

It is he who translates all our articles into Occitan on www.albuga.info so the language of the troubadours can travel all round the world.

Sophie Cattoire

Discours de Jean-Claude Dugros
Biographie de Jean-Claude Dugros
Discours de Jean-Jacques Elias
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