March 31st, 2009, 8:48 pm
I've recently been on a French exchange to Morlaix in Brittany/Bretagne, and was fascinated to learn of the Breton language which apparently is very closely related to Cornish (the language of Cornwall, which is where I live) and Welsh, the former being a dead language and the latter being alive and kicking, I believe.
I don't know if there are any Breton speakers here, but if anyone knows anything about the Breton language, please share, as I am planning on using the Breton language as the subject of my French oral exam.
Oh, and apologies for my signature (just occurred to me that most people who go on this thread will be French :whistle:)
May 26th, 2009, 4:56 pm
Well, I'm not from Britanny, so I don't speak breton at all, but if you understand French (which obviously you do :)) there is a very interesting page on wikipedia (it also exists in English).
I know that many bretons words were gallicized (like Bretagne) and others are used in French as they are (aber, korrigan...). I hope it will help.
May 26th, 2009, 5:04 pm
Thank you; yes I've been poring over that page on Wikipedia all afternoon, trying to understand it (my French is no where near fluent), before I saw your post, and now have a headache. :rolleyes:
I'm actually now doing y exam about Breton culture, and it was paraphrasing the history that was giving me trouble, but I got there in the end. :sigh:
May 26th, 2009, 5:27 pm
I understand how you feel. That's the same when I have to read in German, big headache :lol:
Breton culture is still very present in Britanny, I think you noticed that road signs are both in french and Breton. That's pretty unique in France, maybe except in Provence and pays Basque (I've never been there, so I'm not sure).
After years trying to make them disappear (that was military service role, young people from everywhere were mixed so that they had to speak French), France has decided to protect languages like breton or corse, and it's much better like that. Diversity makes the country richer I think. :)
Did you hear about legends from Britanny? They are fabulous.
May 27th, 2009, 11:37 am
:) No I haven't heard any - sounds interesting! Do you know some?
And yes, I agree that it is very important to preserve different cultures - it's sad that the language has been forcibly watered down by being vastly outnumbered. Brittany is very similar to Cornwall in that respect - we have a traditional culture which we fight to preserve. We have Cornish road signs, the pasty, our own flag, etc. Unfortunately the language has died out of any actual use (except ornamental, like the road signs and odd words on souvenirs, etc) and the accent is almost gone in my generation - by the next, I can't imagine there being any Cornish accent left at all. It just gets so watered down; there aren't enough people to keep it going. If you compare it to London, where they have thousands of "outsiders" coming in, and yet the London accent(s) are going strong, it's quite interesting - clearly sheer numbers is what keeps an accent alive. Do people from Brittany have a distinctive accent? When I was there, there was one man who was able to speak Breton, and seemed very proud of his Breton heritage, and even with my minimal French I thought I could detect an accent when he was speaking French - almost Welsh, which would make sense, given the shared roots of Breton, Welsh, Cornish, etc. But maybe I imagined it?
May 27th, 2009, 12:47 pm
Well, I don't think you imagined it. There are so many accents in France, for each part of the country, that it doesn't surprise me if you could detect this man's accent. There are some very strong accents, especially in southern France. You can't be mistaken by someone from Marseille :lol:
I understand how proud he must feel, like the keeper of a knowledge that mustn't disappear. Now children learn breton at school, and I think a lot of young adults started to re-discover their ancestors' language, which is a good thing. It's so important to know where do we come from, I unfortunatly don't have this opportunity, I can't say exactly from where I am (ancestry in Savoie and Dauphiné, french father born in Marocco but raised in Provence and I was born near Paris :lol:). It's a pity that cornish had disappeared by lack of use, it's what happened to many "patois", local dialects.
Brittany has a very strong identity in France, there are even a few people who are in favor of independence, but it's very marginal.
About legends, the first one that come my mind is the one of Ys city, offshore Douarnenez (there's a similarity with Atlantis). You can find it on wikipédia, in both French and English, but the French one is more detailled. I could try to translate it if you want. It's one of my favorite legendary story.
May 27th, 2009, 6:58 pm
Thank you, I'll have a look - and I won't ask you to translate for me; that'd be asking waaaay too much! :lol:
I think it's great that kids are learning Breton in school now - I met one adorable little girl who was saying some words in Breton (her papa knew a lot as well - I don't know whether he was fluent). Cornish is much further gone - literally no one is fluent now - linguists can only approximate the sounds...
Ah, got to go - dinner...