University of Galway, Ireland
Breton, spoken in France, is - alongside Cornish and Welsh - an uninterrupted continuation of the ancient Brittonic language of Roman Britain. As Celtic linguists are - by the nature of things - mostly English-speakers, the study of Breton has understandably been somewhat neglected. Breton shares many traits common to the other Neo-Celtic languages, but is of particular interest to the general linguist as it is the only Celtic language that has evolved wholly beyond the shadow of the inluence of the English language.
Over the centuries the domination of French, the language of the state since medieval times, steadily eroded the hold of the Breton upon the higher echelons of society. This process cumulated dramatically with a general cesseation of transmission of Breton to the younger generations in the period that immediately followed the 1939-45, with the result that Breton is at present-day suffering a terminal exponential decline as a language of a traditional homogeneous society. Its decline as a spoken language is almost the most dramatic seen in western Europe during the 20th century. The author, who is a native Breton-speaker, gives a description of spoken Breton of central western Brittany, which is - paradoxically - one of the most typical of Breton dialects, but also one of the dialects most neglected in literary works. The study contains chapters on phonology, morphology and syntax, and texts with interlinear translation.
ISBN 9783895861215. Languages of the World/Materials 152. 62pp. 1998.