Languages

In Brittany we have … 3 languages, not bad heu? There are French, Breton and Gallo. French is spoken all over Brittany. There is no Breton-only speaking area (equivalent to the Gaeltachtaí) in Brittany.

Breton

Breton is a Celtic language and was brought to Brittany by the Bretons migrating from the Island (now Great Britain). Breton is traditionally spoken in its western part.

At the beginning of the 20th Century, half of the population of West Brittany knew Breton only, the other half being bilingual in Breton and French. In 1902, the Breton language (as any other regional language of France) was banned in public schools by the French government. French is thus the only language allowed during both classes and playtime. Today, around 200,000 people speak Breton: UNESCO states that Breton is in a great danger of disappearing1, as its population is 10 times less than in years 19002.

Nowadays, Breton is the only Celtic language which is not recognized as an official language. However, a small step towards a better future for Breton was done in 2008 when the French Parliament adopted a revision of the Constitution stating that “regional languages we part of the French cultural heritage”.

Monolingual and bilingual private schools (Diwan, Dihun, Divyezh) now offer classes in Breton for either full or part time. Some public schools in Brittany also offer Breton as an optional foreign language class, such as Latin, German or Spanish classes.

There are now many dictionaries for no French-speaking Breton learners3.

The table below shows the similarities between several Celtic languages (Breton, Cornish and Welsh) and Roman ones (French and Gallo).

Breton Cornish Welsh Gallo French
gwenanenn gwenenenn gwenynen avètt abeille
kado(e)r kador cadair chaérr chaise
keuz, fo(u)rmaj keus caws fórmaij fromage
er-maez yn mes i maes, allan desort dehors
kouezhañ, kouezho koedha cwympo,adfeilio cheir tomber
gavr gaver gafr biq chèvre
Ti chy ty, annedd ostèu maison
gweuz, muzell gweus gwefus lip lèvre
genoù, beg ganow genau góll bouche (gueule)
niver niver nifer limerot numéro
perenn perenn gellygen peirr poire
sko(u)l skol ysgol escoll école
Kazh-koad, gwiñver gwiwer gwiwer chat-de-boéz écureuil
ster(ed)enn sterenn seren esteill étoile
butunat, fumiñ megy mygu betunae fumer
hiziv, hiriv, hidi, hudu hedhyw heddiw anoet aujourd’hui
C’hwibanañ, c’hwitellat, sutal… whybana chwibanu sublae siffler

Source: “Tableau lexical comparatif des langues britonniques.” Wikipédia, l’encyclopédie libre.

More info:
Committee for the Defense of the Breton Language
Kervarker


Gallo

Gallo is a Roman language (like French). Gallo is traditionally spoken in Eastern Brittany.

Gallo French
avètt abeille
chaérr Chaise
fórmaij Fromage
desort Dehors
cheir Tomber
biq Chèvre
ostèu Maison
lip Lèvre
góll bouche (gueule)
limerot Numéro
peirr Poire
escoll Ecole
chat-de-boéz Ecureuil
esteill Etoile
betunae Fumer
anoet aujourd’hui
sublae Siffler

Source: “Tableau lexical comparatif des langues britonniques.” Wikipedia.

1 Atlas of the World’s Languages in danger of Disappearing. Unesco 2001

2 http://www.bretagne.com/fr/culture_bretonne/langue/le_breton/le_breton

3 English/Breton-Breton/English, author Joseph Conroy, ISBN: 0781805406 / 0-7818-0540-6. Others bilingual dictionaries can be found for Dutch, German and Spanish speakers.

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