“I might think that Corsican language is safe, but it’s not”

Diana Saliceti (29) is a Corsican singer and journalist. The fact that she was raised bilingually, has worked as an absolute advantage for the career she has had so far. As the amount of Corsican speakers keeps declining with time her role as a Corsican speaking journalist and singer has made her into a very important ambassador for the Corsican language.

Diana Saliceti

 

“I have a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and besides that I also have a special degree that taught me how to use Corsu in the media. This means I can work as a bilingual journalist. I chose this education because there are not enough journalists who speak Corsican on Corsica. Most media here are also owned by the state’s broadcaster, France Television, just like the only Corsican channel. And they are also paid by the Collectivé Territoriale de Corse to be bilingual. They are obliged to broadcast bilingual programs but it is complicated because they don’t have enough Corsican speaking journalists.

This is because all the Corsican speakers are getting old and the new generations can’t provide enough good speakers. With this special degree they hope to bring forward more of them. I followed this course with ten other students. We were all native speakers but we needed to learn how to be journalists in Corsican language. Which is different from just talking. For example, we learned to speak about murder in Corsu or other special words we didn’t know.

After University I started working for Corse-Matin, the local newspaper. They did not manage to get enough people who could write in the Corsican language so I worked there for two years. I wrote in French most of the time but after a while I also wrote a weekly editorial in Corsu which is still in all the Sunday editions. Corse-Matin is the least Corsican of the Corsican media. Because I think it is easier to tell in Corsican when its spoken than written. And I think most people know how to understand Corsican but do not always manage to read it. Only the new generations who learn Corsican at school and are used to read Corsu.”

How important is Corsu for corsican identity?

“I think it is one of the pillars which is getting smaller right now. If you meet with nowadays politicians they will tell you that half of the Corsican students are studying Corsican and so on. And that is cool but, for example my niece, who is at a bilingual school and therefor supposed to speak half of the time in Corsu, just doesn’t. And she can only say things ‘today is Monday’ or ‘it is a cloudy day’ and they learn grammar but it is not enough. So when she is just talking with her friends she doesn’t use it. There is no corsican flow in society. You only hear French when you walk around.”

Do you think this is going to get worse?

“I think so. I might think that Corsu is safe but i’m living in my own social circle where we all speak Corsu. But it is not. When I talk to other young people they generally can’t answer in Corsu. I am part of this generation that is very passionate about it but we are not with many. But in, for example, music it is really popular. There is this guy named Petru Pa who makes recordings of all kinds of music events on Corsica, puts it on YouTube and his page, Ricordi di Petru Pa, is immensely popular. So traditional music is very popular thanks to social media. He also organizes special nights where he then records it.

Diana singing in Ajaccio’s Espace Diamant theater

 

On the other hand, in my singing group we spent a lot of practice time together. We are all native speakers but we communicate in French because it is more easy. A second problem is that some (older) people are really strict on how to use it. You can not use it in a wrong manner because they will go mad. Sometimes I feel like a pupil talking to a professor.

But anyway, right now we have a nationalist government with two leaders who are both nationalists and really are involved with Corsican identity and also language. But we are so evolved already (as a French speaking region) that i don’t know if it can help Corsu. I don’t want to say that it is to late but it is quite dead. It’s just not natural anymore to use it.”

Is there a way Corsu can be saved?

“I think with strong laws, like an official legislation that makes it easier to get a job when you speak Corsican. So that, for instance, when you speak Corsican you are guaranteed to get a job like a community manager or a journalist. Or restaurant owners that only hire Corsican speakers. And also the internet is a cool thing for Corsica! For example the initiative of Compru in Corsu, an online network for Corsican speaking companies and entrepreneurs, is a great way to revitalize Corsican language. Because when you only use it as part of cultural heritage and history it’s just going to fade away.

And this Compru in Corsu register might sound weird but it’s important because it is a habit for everybody now to order in Corsu. So just to be sure you talk French to a cashier or waiter. Because when you order in Corsu and the waiter does not understand you, you feel foreigner in you own country. You really have an society within a society.”

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