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 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).
|er-maez||yn mes||i maes, allan||desort||dehors|
|genoù, beg||ganow||genau||góll||bouche (gueule)|
|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.
Gallo is a Roman language (like French). Gallo is traditionally spoken in Eastern Brittany.
Source: “Tableau lexical comparatif des langues britonniques.” Wikipedia.
1 Atlas of the World’s Languages in danger of Disappearing. Unesco 2001