Corsican language

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Corsican (Corsican: Corsu or Corsican: Lingua corsa) is a Romance language spoken and written on the islands of Corsica (France) and northern Sardinia (Italy). Corsican is the traditional native language of the Corsican people, and was long the sole language of the island, which was acquired by France in 1768. Over the next two centuries, the use of French grew to the extent that, by the Liberation in 1945, all islanders had a working knowledge of French. The twentieth century saw a wholesale language shift, with islanders changing their language practices to the extent that there were no monolingual Corsican speakers left by the 1960s. By 1990, an estimated 50% of islanders had some degree of proficiency in Corsican, and a small minority, perhaps 10%, used Corsu as a first language.[1]

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Number of speakers

The January 2007 estimated population of the island was 281,000, while the figure for the March 1999 census, when most of the studies - though not the linguistic survey work referenced in this article - were performed, was about 261,000 (see under Corsica). Only a certain percentage of the population at either time spoke Corsu with any fluency. The 2001 population of 341,000 speakers on the island given by Ethnologue[4] exceeds either census and thus may be considered questionable[original research?], like its estimate of 402,000 speakers worldwide.

The use of Corsican over French has been declining. In 1980 about 70% of the population "had some command of the Corsican language."[5] In 1990 out of a total population of about 254,000 the percentage had declined to 50%, with only 10% using it as a first language.[1] The language appeared to be in serious decline when the French government reversed its non-supportive stand and began some strong measures to save it. Whether these measures will succeed remains to be seen. No recent statistics on Corsu are available.

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