Learn Breton

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About Breton

Breton (Brezhoneg) is the only Celtic language still in use in mainland Europe. It is spoken mainly in Brittany in North West France and is closely related to Cornish and Welsh and more distantly to Irish, Scottish Gaelic and Manx. It is classed as severely endangered by UNESCO after the number of native speakers fell by more than 80% from the early 1900s to the early 2000s. But strong efforts are underway to revive the language in Brittany with the help of Breton medium schools, Breton language broadcasts and the use of Breton signage.

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Fun facts — Breton

  • The Breton words for sunrise translates as ‘explosion of the day’.
  • The earliest known French dictionary was the 15th century Catholicon which included Breton alongside French and Latin.
  • The number 18 in Breton is ‘triwec’h’ and literally means ‘three sixes’ from the Breton words for three ‘tri’ and six ‘c’hwech’h’.
  • In Breton, the word blue ‘glas’ is used to describe the colour of trees, grass and other shades of green found in nature.
  • The Breton word ‘huñvre’ meaning ‘dream’ translates as ‘magic sleep’ from ‘hun’ meaning sleep and ‘bre’ meaning magic.  

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