New generation aims to maintain French Breton language in Brittany

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Alison Sabedoria  Identity Verified
France
Member (2009)
French to English
+ ...
A glimmer of hope... May 16, 2010

...but only a glimmer. Real political will at the highest level needs to be mobilised to support these efforts, and I see little evidence of that to date. The French government still seems too wary of possible "breakaway" movements. Then they wonder what fuels them?!

Some of my elderly neighbours still speak Occitan, and didn't know any French until they went to school, where it was soon beaten out of them (as happened in Britanny). It will take more than the efforts of a few passionate enthusiasts to revive Auvergnat "Patois" as a living language, though further south Occitan is faring a little better. I want to learn more from my neighbour, and as she's already 89, I'd better get on with it!


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Linda Sansome
France
Local time: 05:45
French to English
Maybe more than a glimmer! May 17, 2010

I live near Quimper - where the report was filmed. (One of my favourite cathedrals in the background - St. Corentin.) The same ruling about spoken and written language happened in Wales around the end of the 19th century - my grandmother only spoke Welsh and that was forbidden at school - English only! The Breton revival has been gathering apace since the 1950's, with the start of the Celtic music festivals - that of Lorient, now Quimper.
The funding for the Breton language classes is limited - but there is a well-attended class both in the maternelle section of our local school and that of the primary school. The main mover has been the tourist industry - drive anywhere around here and look at road names, take a walk, go to a public building and for the main, names are in both French and Breton. My eldest son (26 years old) plays the bombard in Bagad Briec and is a member of a Breton music group - there are 5 of them, all ages and all speak Breton. Their group has a Breton name - "Ruz Reor" - rather rude in translation! The point is, these music and dance festivals are making it popular again to speak something other than French. Brittany has had a difficult past with the French central government - I have a Breton teacher friend who, while welcoming the acceptance of the spoken language, is resentful that it seems to be founded on making the Breton culture "cute for tourists".
It is very similar to Welsh, so I have a slight advantage there!


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Alison Sabedoria  Identity Verified
France
Member (2009)
French to English
+ ...
Yes, Linda! May 17, 2010

Interesting you should mention Welsh - the come-back of the Welsh language is a beacon of hope that might help encourage the Bretons.

I've long believed that music plays a vital role in helping oppressed/suppressed cultures survive (I used to get a bit militant in my World Music lectures back in the 1990s!), and it's great to hear that your son plays the bombarde - at a suitably discreet distance I hope. I once saw it euphemistically described as "a little outdoor shawm". A friend once played his in my house....

I've been prompted to listen again to Denez Prigent (with Lisa Gerrard) singing "An hini a garan": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mDyi_iyQZSc

If you'd like to sing along, words and music here: http://pagesperso-orange.fr/per.kentel/an_hini_a_garan1.htm

Sami language and culture has had a boost with Mari Boine's success: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UxXzcF4zMvk

And finally, a lullaby mostly in Ladino (language of the Sephardic Jews) from Istanbul: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2VclC-bgt80


Alison

[Edited at 2010-05-18 08:21 GMT]


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Linda Sansome
France
Local time: 05:45
French to English
Music links May 18, 2010

Hi Alison,

Thanks for those links - I didn't know the An hini a garan version - that was lovely. I spared the world my sing along version!

Son plays the bombarde in the festivals - he plays the clarinet and oboe in his group. I taught him music when he was little and I think it is one of the things I am proudest of, in fact. His male Welsh cousins are or have been part of the Morriston Male Orpheus Choir, so the music bit is strong in the family.

I am including a link (Youtube) to Ruz Reor on stage. Their idea is to play the traditional music, but to give it an up to date touch - just so the music does not stay in the old ways. Celtic music sends shivers down my spine! When Richard is playing in one of the festivals, I have to wear dark glasses - sentimental mother, moi?!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QnLB1RI60yY&feature=channel

Linda


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