Breton language


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Breton (Brezhoneg) is a Celtic language spoken by some of the inhabitants of Brittany in France.

Breton (Brezhoneg)
Spoken in: France
Region: Brittany
Total speakers: 500 Thousand
Ranking: Not in top 100


Official status
Official language of: -
Regulated by: -
Language codes
ISO 639-1br
ISO 639-2bre



Breton is not thought to be a modern-day descendant of any continental Celtic language such as Gaulish, though evidently it has borrowed some features from it, but it is rather descended from insular Brythonic. The other regional language (Gallo) derives from Latin.

Although most Bretons no longer speak Breton, an effort has been underway for several years to begin teaching the language in schools to keep it alive.


Breton, along with Cornish and Welsh, is a member of the Brythonic languages, a subgroup of the Insular subgroup of the Celtic branch of the Indo-European language family.

Geographic distribution

Breton is spoken mainly in Western Brittany, but also dispersed in Eastern Brittany, and in areas around the world where there are Breton emigrants.

Official status

Breton is not an official language of France, although there is a strong nationalistic movement and others demanding recognition, a place in the schools, media, and public life.

An attempt by the French government to incorporate the independent Breton-language immersion schools (called Diwan) into the state education system was blocked by the French Constitutional Council on the grounds that, as the Constitution of the 5th Republic states that French is the language of the Republic, no other language may be used as a language of instruction in state schools.

However, the regional and departmental authorities, in as far as they feel able, use Breton to a limited extent in signage (especially for tourism reasons). Some bilingual signage may be seen - for example one station of the Rennes metro system has signage in French and Breton.


The dialects of Breton identified by the Ethnologue are Leonais, Tregorrois, Vannetais, and Cornouaillais.




The English words dolmen and menhir have been borrowed from Breton (menhir has come via French, in Breton peulvan is used) .

Writing system

Breton is written using the Latin alphabet.


Visitors to Brittany may encounter words and phrases (especially on signs and posters) such as the following:

degemer mad welcome
Breizh Brittany
brezhoneg Breton
ti house
ti-k�r town hall
kreisker town centre
da bep tu all directions
skol school
skol-veur university
bagad pipe band
fest-noz ceilidh, traditional concert/dance
kenavo goodbye

See also

External links

cy:Llydaweg de:Bretonische Sprache als:Bretonisch [[es:Bret�n]] eo:Bretona lingvo fr:Breton it:Lingua bretone kw:Yeth Vretonek nl:Bretons ja:ブルトン語 pl:Język bretoński zh:布列塔尼语

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