Brittany Language and Languages

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The main language of Brittany nowadays is French, however the traditional language of Breton (Brezhoneg) is much older. Records can also be found in Latin. Although for most purposes Brittany, and the Bretons, are treated as part of France, many Bretons do not perceive themselves as being French, but rather as a separate Celtic people in France. There is a long-running significant Breton nationalist movement. To add confusion to the matter, Loire-Atlantique, which is historically part of Brittany is no longer treated as such for official purposes.

Breton language[edit | edit source]

The Breton language is one of the Brythonic Celtic languages and is closely related to Welsh and Cornish. And more distantly to Manx, Scottish and Irish Gaelic.

It is most prevalent in western parts of Brittany, but many people throughout Brittany have sent their children into Breton-medium education.

Gallo[edit | edit source]

Gallo, depending on one's viewpoint is either a patois or dialect of French or a closely related language. It was not really written down until the 20th century, but was spoken long before that in eastern parts of Brittany.

Breton surnames[edit | edit source]

  • Locational:
    • Ker- (meaning a fort) - Kerguelen, Kermadec, Kerouac, Kergoat, Kermit
    • Tre or Tré (a farm or settlement) -Trévidic
    • Mor- (sea) - Morvan
    • Bolloré (from Bod Loré meaning a laurel bush)
    • Heusaff (from the isle of Ushant)
    • Le Pen (the headland), Menez (mountain), Seznec (sunny place)
  • Descriptive:
    • Le Bihan (French "le" meaning "the", plus Breton "bihan" meaning small), Le Hir (the tall or long), Le Quellec; ;Le Guen (meaning "the fair"), Pinvidic (rich), Gourcuff/Corcuff (charming man)
    • Guellec (tanned), Guivarc'h (having good horses), Tanet (aflame)
    • Lagadec (big eyed), Le Tallec (big firehead)
    • Le Deunff (son in law), le Hénaff (the elder), Lozach (husband, head, pateiarch)
    • Le Duff/le Duigou (dark haired)
  • Occupational
    • Goff (meaning a smith), Bosser (a butcher), (le) Calvez (Kalvez, a carpenter), Le Goarnig (governess), Mézec (medical doctor), Quemener (tailor), Quiviger (tanner)
  • Ecclesiastical
    • Cloarec (a clerk), Goasdoué (Gwas Doue - man of God)

Personal names

    • Tanguy (from Breton "Tangi", meaning fire dog), originally the name of a saint; Caradeg, Caradec'h (beloved, cognate with Welsh Caradoc); Cariou (beloved); Evenno/Eveno; Guillou (Breton for William); Hervé (iron-one, giving rise to the English Harvey); Stephan;

Lord's Prayer[edit | edit source]

The Lord's Prayer is shown here as an example of Breton. Breton orthography (spelling) was not standardised until recently.

Hon Tad,
c'hwi hag a zo en Neñv,
ra vo santelaet hoc'h ano.
Ra zeuio ho Rouantelezh.
Ra vo graet ho youl war an douar evel en neñv.
Roit dimp hizio bara hor bevañs.
Distaolit dimp hon dleoù
evel m' hor bo ivez distaolet d' hon dleourion.
Ha n' hon lezit ket da vont gant an temptadur,
met hon dieubit eus an Droug.

For those who are interested in learning Breton, the following
Breton site includes online lessons.