How's the Breton I'm learning?

mar_plij
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How's the Breton I'm learning?

Postby mar_plij » 2015-05-07, 4:42

I'm working through Assimil's Breton course and am about a third of the way through. The course claims to be standard Breton, but as a beginner, I'm in no place to tell how the language taught in the course compares to the "real" Breton of actual users.

Below is part of a passage from one of the later units. To native/advanced speakers, how does the language used here sound to you?

- Setu ur goulenn all: "Petra 'rajec'h ma n'ho pije nemet un eurvezh da vevañ ken ?"
- Mont a rajen-me da bokat d'an holl re am eus joa oute.
- N'eus ket se. Merkañ a ran "Chom hoc'h-unan-penn gant an hini a garit" evidout da lavaret eo, ar paotr ha n'eo ket divalav a vez gwelet bep Merc'her ganit.
(Lenaig a sav ar ruz d'he divjod, droug a ya enni, tapout a ra krog er gelaouenn hag he zeuler a ra en ur pod-lastez.)

Granted, it's some silly story (like most language books) reinforcing certain grammar points. But that aside, is it easy to understand?

It seems like a lot of speakers of Breton don't care for standard/"chemical" Breton, but I'm just concerned with being understood in writing. My Breton won't have to be pretty, as much as clear and understandable. If (based on this little sample) I'll end up sounding weird regardless just because of my textbook, I'd rather know now than later. :)

Penaos emañ ar brezhoneg emaon o deskiñ neuze ? Trugarez evit ho soñjoù... ha difaziadennoù !

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ceid donn
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Re: How's the Breton I'm learning?

Postby ceid donn » 2015-10-22, 13:04

Well, I see you've only posted once here at Unilang and this is several months old, but I'll reply in case you come back.

I have studied some Breton myself and am currently working through the Assimil book too. I have to say I'm pretty impressed with it so far, as it presents vocabulary and grammar in a much more intelligent and--as the book promises--intuitive fashion than any other Breton method I've come across. Its format also makes it easy for me to drill the material, by just looking at the French and translating it into Breton.

That said, it's definitely teaching neo-Breton, and that is good and a little bad. But as a self-learner, I would not worry too much about it at this point. In my experience so far, it seems that the differences between neo-Breton and the regional Breton spoken by native speakers can be easily understood once you have some Breton solidly under your belt.

Moreover, with Breton speakers I have come across online, mostly via Twitter and blogs, they are either using neo-Breton or a mix of neo and regional. In which case, you will be able to communicate with them using neo-Breton. If you were hoping to travel to Brittany and speak to native speakers, especially older ones, that's another story. You'll likely hit some bumps there.

There really aren't any advanced Breton learners here, sadly. I'm a very shakey B1-2 in need of a lot of review (which is what I'm currently doing with the Assimil book). We have had a couple of native speakers over the years but I don't think they are around anymore or one of them would have replied by now. You're best bet to get in touch with Breton speakers is Twitter. Search #bzhg and follow everyone you find tweeting in Breton. Among Celtic language speakers, Breton speakers on Twitter have been some of most constantly active and helpful in my experience. Every time I've asked a question about vocab or grammar using #bzhg, I've gotten an answer.

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Zviezda
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Re: How's the Breton I'm learning?

Postby Zviezda » 2015-10-23, 0:55

- Setu ur goulenn all: "Petra 'rajec'h ma n'ho pije nemet un eurvezh da vevañ ken ?"


"rajec'h" isn't much used, nor "ma n'ho pije nemet" (which sounds like a blend of literary Léonard and Trégorrois)
Central Breton: Petra rafec'h ma 'pefe kin 'met un eurvezh da vevañ kin ?

- Mont a rajen-me da bokat d'an holl re am eus joa oute.


Me 'yafe da bokat da dout ar re a garoñ.
"Rajen" isn't much used, nor "an holl".
As far as I know "joa am eus outo" is rather a Léonard expression (but in Léon they don't say "oute").

- N'eus ket se. Merkañ a ran "Chom hoc'h-unan-penn gant an hini a garit" evidout da lavaret eo, ar paotr ha n'eo ket divalav a vez gwelet bep Merc'her ganit.


What does "n'eus ket se" mean ? There isn't that ?
Merkañ a raoñ "Chom ho-heun ga'n heni 'garet" evides, da lâret eo, ar paotr ha n'eo ket divalo a vez gwelet asambles ganit bep Merc'her."

(Lenaig a sav ar ruz d'he divjod, droug a ya enni, tapout a ra krog er gelaouenn hag he zeuler a ra en ur pod-lastez.)


Lenaig a zav ar ru(z) d'he diwchot, mont 'ra droug ban-enni, tapout 'ra krog bar gazetenn, ha taol 'ra 'nehi ba ur boubellenn.
"Kelaouenn" is a coined word ; pod-lastez isn't much used, in my opinion (it might even be a coined word, even though « pod » and « lastez » both exist in certain places). "He zeuler a ra" is old literary Léonard, I don't think anybody would say that nowadays.

Granted, it's some silly story (like most language books) reinforcing certain grammar points. But that aside, is it easy to understand?


Yes, apart from the words or phrases I mentioned.

It seems like a lot of speakers of Breton don't care for standard/"chemical" Breton,


native speakers don't understand it and don't want to. If they have an inferiority complex, they say it's "literary Breton", that's why they don't understand it ; otherwise, they say it's not correct Breton or it's weird Breton.
Neo-Breton is mainly a blend of literary Léonard, literary Trégorrois, plus loads of coined words, often a lot of mistakes (since only non-native speakers know and use it) and of French expressions and sentences translated word for word (and of French pronunciations when it's spoken Neo-Breton).

In my experience so far, it seems that the differences between neo-Breton and the regional Breton spoken by native speakers can be easily understood once you have some Breton solidly under your belt.


I don't agree...

Moreover, with Breton speakers I have come across online, mostly via Twitter and blogs, they are either using neo-Breton or a mix of neo and regional.


of course, since 100% of them are not native speakers, and since native Breton isn't taught (except by one or two teachers maybe!)

In which case, you will be able to communicate with them using neo-Breton. If you were hoping to travel to Brittany and speak to native speakers, especially older ones, that's another story. You'll likely hit some bumps there.


to me, learning a kind of Breton you could only use to communicate with other learners, is a bit a waste of time. Neo-Breton is an artificial language. If you want to use it just to communicate, then use French, since all the Neo-Breton speakers are native speakers of French. If you want to use Breton because it's Brittany's traditional language and because you think it should survive, then you shouldn't learn Neo-Breton, because it isn't Brittany's traditional language - it has been created in the 1920/30/40s by French-speaking Breton activists who didn’t master the language, and who despised native speakers and their culture... Neo-Breton is the language of the Breton activist milieu, and the world of the native speakers is completely different and hasn’t much in common (to say the least) with the activists’ one.

If you want to learn genuine Breton, you might use books like Selaou Selaou (one of the few that teach a natural dialect) and listen to programs with native speakers. Remember that most of what you can hear on TV and radio and of what you can read, is non-native stuff, and actually awful Breton most of the time.
Most native speakers can’t write in Breton (since Breton was forbidden in schools). Most native speakers are either retired farmers or fishermen, so you won’t find them writing on the internet : you should either listen to programs like Tud eus ar Vro or Kreiz Mitin, or go to the Breton countryside to meet them. If you want to read native Breton, you’ll have to read stuff published before 1950, roughly (but even at that time, there were quite a lot of non-native writers whose Breton was terrible...). Avoid Roparz Hemon and Pêr Denez’s books...

I know this sounds a bit disheartening, but learning real Breton and meeting native speakers is an invaluable experience, that you can’t have with « Neo-Breton speakers », whose culture is just the French one plus a few clichés about Brittany.
While the culture and language of the native speakers are awesome, you really discover a new universe that has nothing in common with nowadays' French culture (which is the culture of most Bretons today, unfortunately).

feel free to ask other questions :)

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Jurgen Wullenwever
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Re: How's the Breton I'm learning?

Postby Jurgen Wullenwever » 2015-11-15, 21:10

Zviezda wrote:to me, learning a kind of Breton you could only use to communicate with other learners, is a bit a waste of time. Neo-Breton is an artificial language. If you want to use it just to communicate, then use French, since all the Neo-Breton speakers are native speakers of French. If you want to use Breton because it's Brittany's traditional language and because you think it should survive, then you shouldn't learn Neo-Breton, because it isn't Brittany's traditional language - it has been created in the 1920/30/40s by French-speaking Breton activists who didn’t master the language, and who despised native speakers and their culture... Neo-Breton is the language of the Breton activist milieu, and the world of the native speakers is completely different and hasn’t much in common (to say the least) with the activists’ one.

If you want to learn genuine Breton, you might use books like Selaou Selaou (one of the few that teach a natural dialect) and listen to programs with native speakers. Remember that most of what you can hear on TV and radio and of what you can read, is non-native stuff, and actually awful Breton most of the time.
Most native speakers can’t write in Breton (since Breton was forbidden in schools). Most native speakers are either retired farmers or fishermen, so you won’t find them writing on the internet : you should either listen to programs like Tud eus ar Vro or Kreiz Mitin, or go to the Breton countryside to meet them. If you want to read native Breton, you’ll have to read stuff published before 1950, roughly (but even at that time, there were quite a lot of non-native writers whose Breton was terrible...). Avoid Roparz Hemon and Pêr Denez’s books...

I know this sounds a bit disheartening, but learning real Breton and meeting native speakers is an invaluable experience, that you can’t have with « Neo-Breton speakers », whose culture is just the French one plus a few clichés about Brittany.
While the culture and language of the native speakers are awesome, you really discover a new universe that has nothing in common with nowadays' French culture (which is the culture of most Bretons today, unfortunately).

This is a great comment! :D
Unfortunately it is true for many languages, :cry:
so I think I will make a version for Swedish if it is allowed. 8-)
Chekhov wrote:I don't know about naive worldviews, but Jurgen Wullenwhatever pisses me off to no end because of his extreme pessimism and cynicism. You'd think the world was going to end imminently when talking to that guy.

Jag är rebell: jag sockrar teet, saltar maten, cyklar utan hjälm, och tänder glödlampor.

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Zviezda
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Re: How's the Breton I'm learning?

Postby Zviezda » 2015-11-16, 0:53

so I think I will make a version for Swedish if it is allowed.


no problem!


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