- Language Description
- Indo-European Chronology (Celtic & Iberian)
- Breton Online
During the 7th and 8th centuries these various groups prospered and subsequently developed a number of petty kingdoms in this westernmost part of present-day France. These principalities were to become subject to Charlemagne early in the 9th century, but in 846, under a leader, Nomenoe, who had united his people against invaders, the now-Bretons revolted against Charlemagne's grandson, Charles the Bald, and won independence. Later by nearly a century they acknowledged the rule of their near-neighbors, Norman dukes - Geoffrey, count of Rennes, having proclaimed himself duke of Bretagne in 922. And later by several centuries the dukedom became through marriage a possession of Geoffrey Plantagenet, son of Henry II, king of England (1171), then reverting early in the 13th century to a line of French dukes at Rennes. In 1491, when Anne of Bretagne, who had inherited the duchy, married Charles VIII, king of France, Bretagne was temporarily united with France. The union became permanent by treaty in 1532, during the reign of the French king Francis I, who had married Claude, daughter of Anne of Bretagne.
Many Bretons still speak their language, rich literature written in
it as well, so the tongue is not considered as becoming extinct or endangered.
It became richer in vowels and consonants as nasals were developed under
French influence, but the traditional Insular Celtic structure of the language
is preserved with its full system of inital mutations, prepositional pronouns
and progressive verb forms. Breton has evolved more than has Welsh, interestingly,
perhaps, due to the lack of a learned culture. The verb is always placed
second in a sentence and an extensive use is made of compound tenses, as
in French, German and English. It possesses a verb "to have", derived from
"to be", but which in so longer considered as a suppletive construction
(Kaout). It has two genders (masculine and feminine), distinguished
by way of consonant changes (mutations) and inflects its prepositions.
Breton also borrowed many words from French, mainly its terms of modern
civilization. But the language is productive and survivable. It still looks
much like Welsh or Cornish,
the two mother tongues of modern Breton-speaking people. The language itself
is divided into four major dialects: Leoneg around Brest (on which the
literary and standard tongue is based), Tregereg around Treguire,
Kerneveg around Quimper and Gwenedeg. This last one differs
significantly from the standard language and has its own literary tradition.
It could be considered to be a language by itself and has been said to
descend from Gaulish.