Friday, 8 August 2008

Brezhoneg: the Breton language

Degemer mad (welcome) to today’s post! Even in the Gallo-speaking areas of eastern Brittany, you don’t have to go far to come across the influence of the Breton language. To take one example, many place names begin with lan, which indicates a parish dedicated to a saint. Thus Langourla is the parish of St Gourlay.

As a Celtic language, Breton has similarities to other languages such as Welsh and Cornish. It declined under compulsory French education and the hostility of central government to regional languages. The number of speakers fell by three-quarters over the twentieth century, and UNESCO considers Breton to be in danger of extinction. However, there is an ongoing revival, and Breton language education now thrives in the Diwan schools. The French state has even just recognised that ‘minority languages belong to France’s heritage’.

Here are a few handy Breton words:

Breizh: Brittany
Argoat: inland region
Armor: coast
Mor: sea
Ty: house
Mad: good
Braz/bras: big
Bihan: small
Koz: old
Nevez: new
Du: black
Gwenn, guen: white

If you want to find out more about the language, there’s lots of information in French and Breton here and here. Fancy learning it? You can attend a course in Brittany or online.

Let’s end with a toast: yec’hed mat! Good health!

1 comment:

Bryce Wesley Merkl said...

Here's another great Breton site you might want to check out: Brezhoneg wiki browser