Breton

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A language of France

Alternate Names
Berton, Brezhoneg
Population

206,000 (2013 R. Milin), decreasing.

Location

Bretagne region: Finistere, western Cotes-d’Armor, and western Morbihan departments; elsewhere dispersed.

Language Maps
Language Status

7 (Shifting). Recognized language (2013, No. 595), Education.

Dialects

Leoneg (Leonais), Tregerieg (Tregorrois), Gwenedeg (Vannetais), Kerneveg (Cornouaillais).

Typology

SVO, OVS, or, less frequently, VSO, depending on focus; prepositions; genitives, adjectives, relatives after noun heads; articles, numerals before noun heads; question word initial; topic or focus first, verb second; gender (masculine/feminine); definite and indefinite articles; verb affixes mark person, number; passives; tense; causatives and comparatives shown lexically; 24 consonants, 11 vowels; non-tonal; free stress; 4 kinds of mutation.

Language Use

Strong nationalistic movement demanding recognition, a place in the schools, media, and public life. 75% of the estimated 200,000–250,000 Breton speakers using Breton as an everyday language today are over the age of 65. A small number of children are learning the language but it is not clear if they continue to use it in adulthood (Salminen 2007). Also use French [fra].

Language Development
Literacy rate in L1: 25%. An average of 15,000 students in Breton language and bilingual schools. Taught in primary and secondary schools. New media. Radio programs. TV. Dictionary. Grammar. Bible: 1866–1985.
Writing

Latin script [Latn].

Other Comments

In 1914 reportedly 90% (about 1 million) of the population of the western half of Brittany spoke Breton. In 1945 it was about 75%, and today, in all of Brittany the most optimistic estimate would be that 20% of Bretons can speak Breton. Brittany has a population of roughly 4 million, including the department of Loire-Atlantique separated from official Brittany in 1941.

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