He is a Roma French linguist, researcher and promoter of the Roma / Romani language and culture (Rromani after the phonetic transcription created by Courthiade himself).
Courthiade studied medicine at the University of Clermont-Ferrand, which he abandoned to study Slavic languages, particularly Serbo-Croatian and Polish. He then studied at the Institut national des langues et civilisations orientales (INALCO) in Paris, where he earned a diploma in Polish, Macedonian, and Albanian. He titled his doctoral thesis Phonologie des variétés dialectales de Rromani et diasystèmes graphiques de la langue Rromani, a degree he earned from the École pratique des hautes études.
During his studies, Courthiade worked for several NGOs regarding education for Romani people in Albania. Subsequently, he worked as a political analyst and interpreter at the French Embassy in Albania for four years. In 1997, he became a lecturer at INALCO. In 2008, he was a key participant of Louis Mochet‘s film Rromani Soul. In 2019, he became a member of the scientific council Délégué interministériel à la lutte contre le racisme, l’antisémitisme et la haine anti-LGBT [fr].
Marcel Courthiade died in Tirana on 4 March 2021 at the age of 67.