Breton (France)
Research Centre of Wales
Version française
Breton (France)
  1. Introduction
  2. The language in the country
    1. General information on the language community
    2. Geographical and language background
    3. General history and history of the language
    4. Legal status and official policies
  3. The use of the language in various fields
    1. Education
    2. Judicial Authorities
    3. Public Authorities and services
    4. Mass media and Information technology
    5. The Arts
    6. The business world
    7. Family and social use of the language
    8. Transnational exchanges
  4. Conclusion

1. Introduction

There is no dat for this topic.

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2. The language in the country

2.1. General information on the language community

There is no dat for this topic.

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2.2. Geographical and language background

Brittany is a peninsula on the northwestern corner of the European continent, surround by sea. To the north is the English Channel, while the Atlantic Ocean and Bay of Biscay are to the west and south. The climate is temperate, and does not suffer extremely hot weather in the summer, and experiences only mild frosts through the winter months. The east of the country and the coastal areas provide rich agricultural ground, and the country is famous for its agricultural dynamism. Vegetables, pork and dairy products are the main agricultural activities and exports, while poultry farming has grown rapidly in the last fifteen years. Low lying land in the east rises to 384 metres in the central western Menez Are (Monts d'Arrée). The major cities are Nantes/Naoned and Saint Nazaire/Sant Nazer in the southeast, which form the major port at the mouth of the river Loire. These are principally commercial towns, which also have some shipbuilding. Nantes has a major university, and was also the seat of the independent and sovereign Dukes of Brittany, but neither of these two towns are officially in the French "Région Bretagne", which includes only four of the five historic Breton Départements ; Rennes/Roazhon has been the capital of Brittany since the Middle Ages, and is now capital of the Région. It is an adminstrative and military centre. It is also the main university city in Brittany, being home to both the Université de Rennes and the Université de Haute Bretagne, along with several other state-financed and private third level institutions. The student popultaion in this town of 250 000 residents has reached 60 000; Brest and Lorient/An Oriant are military and commercial ports. The Université de Bretagne Occidentale is in Brest, and there are plans to build a new university in Lorient.

Brittany has a population of 3 847 663 persons according to the 1990 Census. Some 1 052 000 of these live in the heavily urbanised Loire Atlantique area which is not part of the administrative Région, whose own population is thus approximately 2 800 000. The surface area of the whole of Brittany is 34 462 km2, which gives an average population density of 111 people per km2. This is slightly higher density than the French average.

The 4 Départements of "Région Bretagne" are 43% rural and 57% with 1100 communes of the 1290 being classified as "rural". About 15% of the whole Breton population lives in rural areas, while about 28% live in semi-urbanized areas of under 10 000 inhabitants. Approximately 22% live in towns of under 50 000 people, while the remaining 35% live in major urban centres, especially Rennes and Brest.

There are no towns at all where Breton is the dominant language, although a majority of residents in towns of less than 10 000 residents in inland Lower Brittany can at least understand the language. There is no evidence for any intergenerational transmission of the language anywhere but in the rural areas, except in the case of a handful of particularly committed urban families.

The overall population has been in steady progression by about 5% over the last 30 years. In 1990, for example, 33 000 births in the Region and 28 000 deaths, giving birth and death rates of 12/1000 and 10/1000 respectively

Lower Brittany (Breizh Izel, Basse-Bretagne), being the western part of the country which is the traditional home of the Breton language, has a population of 1 514 694. This figure has been relatively constant over the last twenty years, but hides the demise of areas where the language is spoken. The move away from the land in Central Brittany and the expansion of the coastal towns in Lower Brittany, and of Rennes/Nantes in the east do not show up in the national statistics. In fact the Breton areas have been emptying at an alarming rate since the 1960s, a process which the Regional Plan (1993) sees as continuing into next century.

About 5% of the Breton-born population have left to work elsewhere, but this rises to nearly 40% of under 25 year olds in communes with large Breton speaking populations.

The most numerous movement out of Brittany was in the period 1920-30 and again in 1946-60. The major demographic change is movement off the land and towards the cities in the east and around the coast. The strongest Breton speaking areas are also the poorest agicultural land in Brittany, and so are the most effected by emigration. These figures do not show up in the national or even departmental statistics. One would need to look at the returns at commune level, but as there are 610 communes in Lower Brittany alone, this would be an enormous task.

The main causes of the movements out of the territory have been the change in agricultural methods which lead to less need for labour, combined with the lack of new employment opportunities within the previously agricultural areas. Since the end of the Second War education standards have increased and the living standards offered in the Bretontowns, and in Paris and even further afield could not be matched in the poorer areas of Brittany. The increasing use of French in families in the Breton speaking areas has enabled people to gain a proficiency in the language that those of the prewar years never knew, and has opened up new job possiblitities elsewhere, not just in the state sector.

According to the 1990 census there are only 27 000 non-French citizens resident in the whole of Brittany. It should not be forgotten however, that the city of Nantes, officially seperated from Brittany since the Second World War, has experienced massive inmigration from other parts of the French State since the 1950s. 23% of the population was not born in the Loire Atlantique Department or elsewhere in Brittany. Although this is not very important in language terms, the Breton identity of the city, and its own and its Département's contribution to the promotion of Breton culture must surely be affected in the long term.

Survey evidence suggests that only about 5% of the present population of Breton-dominant areas come from non-Breton speaking backgrounds. Again there are no official statistics showing the origins of the population according to linguistic background. Rural areas serving as a hinterland to the towns of Lannion, Morlaix, Brest, Quimper and Lorient are the most affected. Some local villages are now majority incomers. Field research would be needed as even the statistical information on the place of birth of incomers does not give us reliable indicators to the language use and attitudes of these persons.

The growth in holiday homes and tourism generally is the major reason for the decline in the percentage of Breton speakers on the south coast, and the huge increase in property prices in the Vannes/Gwened-Auray/Alre-Concarneau/Konkernev area. This has moved houses out of the buying power of the local agricultural and fishing communities. Holiday makers and house owners do not show in population data as these only refer to resident population. 14% of houses in the 4-Department Breton Région are secondary homes, against 79% being principle residences (INSEE 1994).

The main cause of in-migration among the active population is not industry, but the military. Brittany is home to the whole of France's Atlantic Fleet (Brest) and Submarine Fleet (Lorient). There are also many Army and Air Force bases. The families of the military rarley stay in one place for more than a few years and so while their French influence is always present, the Breton influence on them is limited.

The standard of living is lower than the State average in monetary terms. While local prices and inflation conform to the national average, the average household income by month over the year to January 1994 was 76 317 Francs per month in "Région Bretagne", which is about 8% lower than the State average of 83 005 Francs per month.

The majority of Breton speakers have much lower incomes than this as they are employed in low wage sectors (agriculture, fishing). It is frequently remarked that the most strongly Breton speaking areas are also the poorest, often hill land. As Ronan ar C'hoadig remarks in his book Campagnes Rouges de Bretagne (Skol Vreizh, 1991), the frequency of Breton speaking and of voting for the extreme left both increase with altitude!

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2.3. General history and history of the language

Breton belongs to the Brittonic or British sub-group of the Celtic language group, and is an Indo-European language. It is linguistically speaking an insular Celtic, or neo-Celtic, language rather than a continental Celtic variant (such as Gaulish). The Breton population is desecended in the majority from a mixture of (probably Gaulish) Armoricans and Brittonic-speaking Celts who came from Britain at the end of the Roman period. This period of history, around the 5th Century A.D., was particularly turbulent and we have little written history to prove the exact ethnic make-up of the population. Linguistically Breton is obviously insular, with perhaps some Gaulish influence. It has been argued from place-name evidence that Brittonic settlement was greatest in the west and north of the Armorican peninsular, where Brittonic settlers were probably in a majority at the end of the 6th Century. The linguist-historian Falc'hun has suggested that Gaulish influence was strongest in the south and east of Brittany. By early medieval times, when written history reappears, Brittany is functioning as a continental Brittonic Celtic kingdom in close cultural and economic contact with Cornwall and Wales, but becoming increasingly involved in continental western European politics generally and with the neighbouring Frankish empires in particular. This geopolitical reality and sheer geographical distance would gradually weaken the ties with insular Britain, and allow both internal linguistic innovation and separation from the popular languages of Wales and Cornwall. Breton is a distinct language from the early Middle Ages and should not be considered, after Kloss, as an Ausbau language in relation to Welsh. Although the modern idioms remain linguistically similar and contain much common vocabulary, intercommunication or even semi-communication between speakers of Breton and Welsh is practically impossible. There is simply too much of whatEinar Haugen has called "code-noise".

Breton is arguably the Celtic language most influenced by its contact over nearly two thousand years with other non-Celtic idioms, most often the languages of Brittany's ruling classes.

There are four principal dialects of the language: The dialects of the regions of Leon, Treger (and Goelo), Kernev, and Gwened.

The dialect areas correspond approximately to the ancient division of Brittany into diocese. As these were eclesiastical-political divisions, the linguistic barriers are not so clear-cut. The areas are called bro in Breton. Although these divisions have no official status, even the Church now being structured on the state's Departmental boundaries, the people are generally very aware of their regional/linguistic identity. Linguistically Bro-Leon (northwest), Bro-Dreger (north) and Kernev (a huge linguistic area running from Central Brittany [Kernev-Uhel] to the south of western Brittany around Quimper/Kemper [Kernev-Izel]) are quite closely related and present little problem for interintelligeability. The dialect of Gwened, in the southeast, historically spoken in a territory running from approximately just west of the present Finistère-Morbihan Department border eastwards to the salt marshes of Guérande/Gwenrann in Loire-Atlantique (near Nantes) is linguistically more distant, the accentuation and verbal forms being the main areas of differentiation. Some speakers of Gwened dialect and the others have difficultly in easily understanding each other's Breton. This mutual problem may be due in great part to the lack of contact in the last one hundred to one hundred and fifty years between Breton speakers of different dialects due to commerce becoming local town, and major city-based on the one hand, and the fact that there is no real Breton language media that would enable people to be more used to hearing a variety of different sorts of Breton on the other.

There are no official statistics regarding the number of speakers of the language. Scientific estimates based on surveys such as TMO Ouest (1991) and Radio Breizh Izel (1983) used small samples to calculate the true number of speakers.

The biggest was TMO Ouest who interviewed a 1000 sample of the population within the traditional Breton area as defined by the Sebillot linguistic frontier, that is west of a line running from Plouha in the north to Sarzeau in the south. The sample was small, and one can argue that as the Breton speaking population is rural, and in many areas the whole countryside may be peopled by Breton speakers, standard sampling is not particularly helpful as the Breton speakers do not have the same population profile as the Breton population generally. TMO Ouest's sample was also Finistère biased as this was the main geographic division in the survey (which covered Finistère and parts of Morbihan and the Côtes d'Armor). This is a problem as we know from this survey and from others (eg Humphreys 1991), that the Breton speaking part of the Côtes d'Armor is by far the most Breton speaking area, yet was poorly represented in the sampling. TMO found that 21% of the population of Lower Brittany spoke Breton as their first language. This gives a figure of 320 000, which is probably conservative for the reasons given above, but concords with approximations by individual members of University and INSEE staff. Some 56% of speakers used their Breton "regularly". This means that approxiamtely 180 000 use the language on an everyday basis. The rest use it "sometimes".

The number who say that they can only "understand" Breton has dropped by 12.6% in 10 years. About 82% of all 75 + years, and 100% of rural 65 + years can speak Breton, although ability to use Breton decreases from 50% of 50 year olds to a negligeable number of young people; only 3.5% of 15-19 year olds in the "Breton area" can speak Breton. This points to a language group in rapid decline with very little intergenerational transmission, a point brought home in the Euromosaic survey which concentrated exclusively on the Breton speaking population.

The Breton language has never been the native speech of the whole of the population of the territory of Brittany, although it has been present throughout the territory at different times and in different classes of society. Up until the ninth century Breton was spoken very far east, to within twenty kilometres west of Rennes. The eastern areas around Fougères, Vitré and the east of Loire Atlantique may never have spoken Breton. The linguistic frontier has withdrawn slowly westwards with time, yet remained fairly stable for some three or four hundred years until this century when Breton collapsed all over its traditional "heartland", Lower Brittany. Breton can still be found spoken as the native language in all parts of lower Brittany. Within western Brittany the language is least spoken in the south, and generally around all the coasts. It is at its strongest in Central Brittany/Kreiz Breizh. It is hardly spoken at all in the towns and is by far the most used in rural areas.

One can describe three linguistic areas in Brittany: Breton in the west, and French in the far eastern area, or theMarches. In between these two areas is the Gallo country. "Gallo" is the Gallo-Roman dialect of rural eastern Brittany, and is considered as a language in its own right by some of its speakers and by the education authorities, as it can be taken as a subject in the school-leaving examination under the rules established by the Deixonne Law.

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2.4. Legal status and official policies

There is no specific policy towards the language anymore. Most key witnesses described the situation as one of "hostile tolerance". Breton has the same status as other non-official languages of the French State, and so its status can be defined in negative terms by the laws passed in favour of French:

A rudementary legal framework for the teaching of Breton in the state school system was provided by the Deixonne Law (1951), permitting the teaching of the language as an optional subject, initially outside regular school hours.

France refuses to sign international treaties on the rights of autochthonous minorities and the use of the mother tongue, for example, the Council of Europe Charter on Minority and Regional Languages, and naturally this must be born in mind when considering the legal framework effecting the status of Breton. France has also made derogations from Article 27 of the Pact of Civil and Political Rights, Article 30 of the Convention of the Rights of the Child, which all concern the right to use the mother tongue.

The municipal councils of all the communes in Lower Brittany, except one, have asked for the central government to sign the European Charter on Regional and Minority Languages, and to define policy areas and Language Laws. The Euromosaic survey revealed a clear majority of Breton speakers in favour of increased use of the language in administration and in the public sector and that children should be taught the language, all of which imply a need for legal structures. At the same time a majority of respondents also gave Central Government very poor scores for showing interest in Breton, which seems to reflect general understanding of the issue.

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3. The use of the language in various fields

3.1. Education

Breton as a subject: 8 000 pupils receive at least one class per week in Breton at Primary School, including 1000 Diwan, 250 Dihun and 750 State bilingual class pupils.

2800 pupils receive at least one hour per week in Middle School (Collège), including 120 at Diwan, and 50 in bilingual classes.

1200 pupils receive at least one class as a baccalauréat subject at High School (Lycée).

These figures include children in Breton medium (Diwan) schools and those in bilingual classes in the State and Catholic (Dihun) classes. They imply that just 2% of school children receive some Breton teaching.

There is little evidence that education can prove a realistic agent for language reproduction or production in these circumstances, especially as what little Breton education does exist appears to be geographically peripheral to the areas where Breton survives as a community language. Well under 1% of respondents' children in the Survey received any Breton instruction at school. However, the fact that Breton medium education is a new phenomenon (since 1977) and that the first professionally qualified Breton language teachers only started graduating in 1992 should be born in mind when respondents reply that they "chose" to educate their children in French whereas in reality there may have been, and may still not be, any realistic alternative.

Teacher training should be examined in the light of survey findings regarding the position of Breton in society. It can be argued that Breton is no longer the mother tongue of anything but a tiny per centage of children, and so sending one's children to a Breton medium school, no matter what the linguistic make up of the community, has become an act of linguistic activism rather than a reflection of a societal and linguistic need or reality.

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3.2. Judicial authorities

Breton has neither status nor place in the French judicial system, French being the only permitted language. This can be seen as an application of the French political philosophy that all must be equal before a court and must therefore use the same language. Translators can be used if it is shown that the respondents cannot speak French. Documents may generally not be received in Breton, however, as they must be translated, their French form being the version legally before the court. If there should be a discrepency it is the French version which stands. Even Breton-speaking judges would thus be reluctant to accept Breton documents unless absolutely necessary.

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3.3. Public authorities and services

Breton is neither used nor permitted in the central administration of the State, in accordance with the general principles of the law. Nor is any Breton used by the Regional administration; either by the Breton Regional Council or by organs of the central State in Brittany. There is no specific policy governing this usage, but as most local administration simply copies the central government, the question does not come up.

Having said this, where Breton is widely spoken and understood, it is sometimes used by local citizens with their own "mairie" and commune council. The Survey showed that only very few Breton speakers do not use the language with their local councillor. A very few communes work entirely in Breton, but only when all the elected members speak the language. Minutes, notes and notices are always in French and only very rarely bilingual. Very few people can read and write Breton, and they are simply not used to the idea of writing official business in Breton. Indeed, the very ethos of official administrative settings seems to discourage the use of Breton, as the Survey revealed overwhelming majorities of speakers who would only use French with lawyers, librarians, at the unemployment exchange and benefits office, with the police and taking a driving test, even when they were certain that their interlocutor spoke Breton.

Finistère Council has adopted a bilingual policy and has encouraged the communes on its territory to do so too. They offer advice on village names and spellings. Most communes are now adopting this practice. Legally one cannot change the name of the commune or village without an act of parliament, and so official name changes are generally ruled out. Côtes d'Armor Departmental Council is also developing policy on Breton, but mostly as with Finistère, this is exclusively in symbolic domains through bilingual signposting and subsidies to Breton language arts. Some aid is given to Breton medium education, but this is not the rsponsibility of local government in the French State.

One area where some local councils have acted is in giving optional Breton classes to non-speakers and literacy classes to those who speak the language. Some authorities have also provided theatre, library, and educationalleaflets in or about the language. As so few of the general population are literate in Breton, requests for publications and services in Breton are generally only made by a small number of language activists. This does not mean that if the authorities produced Breton versions of their documents, forms etc. that they would not be used, as our Survey suggests the contrary.

The Survey indicates that Breton still serves as a community language but is becoming increasingly reliant on a speaker's personal knowledge of a network. It is therefore logical that a locally elected representative will be considered part of such a network, but that all other areas of administration will be seen as outside of the personal network. To this one must add the negative linguistic identity upon language use in this sphere. These facts point to the use of Breton by the administration as being an entirely local phenomena restricted to informal and oral usage in areas with large numbers of Breton speakers.

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3.4. Mass media and information technology

Breton's entry into the broadcast media is limited and inconsisitant. Only the state-run regional television channel broadcasts any Breton, and this is limited to four to five minutes of news items daily, which can only be received over part of the Breton speaking area. A 45 minute general interest programme is availbale across the whole of Brittany on Sundays. All these broadcasts are currently at off-peak hours.

Breton is better represented on the radio, although there is no monolingual service. Both State owned Breton regional stations carry programmes in Breton (2-14 hours per week), as do some local association radios, notably Radio Kreiz Breizh (20 hours in Breton) and Radio Bro Gwened (17 hours).

The Survey shows low rates of listening and viewing of the available services, but some interpretation is called for. Whereas most Breton speakers watch nearly all available television in Breton in their area, they also watch much more in French. This cannot be interpreted as implying a preference for the French service. The local television estimates approximately 80 000 viewers for the Sunday programmes, whereas the figures for 1993 reveal that fully 15% of the population of Finistère watch the short daily news bulletin in Breton. These figures compare favourably with other minorized language braodcasting services in Europe.

The Survey's figures for Breton radio listeners may also be misleading in that the survey was conducted at nine selected points across Lower Brittany, at least five of which are out of reach of either of the Breton association radios. The Survey did raise some problems of interdialectal comprehension, especially in the case of viewer-listeners in the Gwened area, and more surprisingly, perhaps, in the Bigouden country of south Finistère as well. Nevertheless, together these statistics and Survey support the theory that a more complete and stable broadcasting service would probably generate a considerable audience.

There are no weekly magazines in Breton, but there are a number of periodicals, mostly devoted to literature and language issues. The biggest of these, Bremañ, has a circulation of approximately 1000 and a readership of some 2500-3000 people. There is a new children's magazine called Moutig which is produced through cooperation with a similar Basque language publication, and with subsidies from the Regional Council and the European Union. Circulation is picking up rapidly, and it may be that this form of cooperation and subsidy will prove a valuable model for the future.

Literacy in Breton remains very low and this, together with the choice of subject matter, are the principle obstacles to selling publications to the main body of the Breton speaking population. Indeed, the Survey points up that over 85% of Breton speakers read a daily newspaper in French, but that only a minority regularly read books in any language.

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3.5. The Arts

Between 25-30 new books are published in Breton each year in most subject areas. The indusry is supported by a a small yet very loyal book-buying public.

There is a very active traditional and creative music and arts scene in Brittany. The Breton language is central to tradition, and the audience for Breton song is wider than the Breton-speaking public itself. About 20 new Breton language CDs come out each year. There were over 30 in 1993. Having said this, the Survey revealed that among the specifically Breton language based activities, only the Fest Noz/Fest Deiz generates much support from among the Breton speaking population. (*** GLYN, Is the age-profile of the population important here???- I have no statistics on age of respondents, but think they are mostly late middle aged or older.)

There are some very successful amateur and semi-professional theatre companies, but they tend to have a very local base. There is no Breton language film industry, although there have been some features. The television is the principal market for such productions.

The regional council funds teh Breton Cultural Institute, Skol Uhel ar Vro. Finistère promotes its "cultural difference"as a tourist attraction. Both Finistère and Côtes d'Armor give grants to publishing, records, festivals. Finistère gives money to France 3 TV for the Breton programmes. All support Dastum, the folklore archive.

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3.6. The business world

Unemployment has been running at approximately 10% in Brittany for a number of years. Of those in work, about 10% are employed in agriculture, while some 25% work in industry, and as much as 50% in the service sector. About a half of those working in the services are employed by the state, equally divided between the armed forces and the education system. As can be seen from the table below, employment patterns are fairly similar across the five Breton departments, except in urban dominated Loire Atlantique, where the small number of agricultural workers brings down the primary sector figures.

Côtes d'Armor28%26%46%
Ille et Vilaine21%30%50%
Loire Atlantique12%38%50%
(source: calculated from INSEE statistics)

The Euromosaic Survey, although on a very small scale, is representative of the Breton speaking population. Of those respondents in employment some 79% were active as small farmers or agricultural workers, while only 6% were in the tertiary sector. Two thirds of those who had worked for companies were employed by small firms of less than 24 employees that were locally owned and whose manager or owner knew or spoke Breton. There was no tendency to employ Breton speakers in particular positions or for special tasks, and the relevance of French and Breton in the workplace would seem to reflect their positions in wider society: Whereas oral ability and literacy in French were perceived as being essential in most cases, only understanding and speaking of Breton were considered "essential" or "useful" by a majority of respondents, with relatively few requiring a reading and writing ability.

Only a very few jobs, such as in the administration of the Regional Park, and teaching of the language itself require workers to know or to learn Breton. Indeed, most Breton-related jobs are in education, a few in "cultural" tourism, local authority bilingual service, and a few in journalism/radio/TV.

Under 17% of respondents, all Breton speakers, claimed a very good reading ability in Breton, compared to nearly a quater of speakers who claimed to be completely illiterate in the language. The vast majority claimed to read and write French very well. This is probably the main reason why only a very few campaigns for particularly Breton products (dairy produce, crêpes, biscuits, alcoholic drinks) have been marketed in Breton, and then only with simple catch phrases or brand names. The Survey shows public support for a higher profile for Breton, but Breton speakers, broadlydisagree that Breton should be compulsory and so priviledged in the labour market.

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3.7. Family and social use of the language

The majority of the respondents in the Survey came from families where both parents spoke Breton together, with just 21% claiming that their parents used both Breton and French. Only 52% of the repondents themselves used only Breton with their parents while a third spoke Breton with their brothers and 43% with their sisters. This trend away from Breton also showed up clearly in the linguistic experience of their childhood. The trend has continued through he next generation, with only some 12% of respondents using exclusively Breton with their children and as few as 14% of these native speakers using both languages. It is not surprising that the vast majority of the children have turned their backs on Breton when talking to their siblings. Only 1% using exclusively Breton and a further 6% using both languages. Indeed, the situation may be more catastrophic than these figures display. The Survey was conducted among fluent Breton speakers, and few repondents were found in the younger age categories. This indicates that the "children" referred to may already be adult.

Evidently this data gives a picture of a language group in a process of rapid decline as regards home usage. The family is not acting as an effective agency of language production, and no external support is coming from the education system, or from broader society, as the data on partners' language use would tend to show that the phenomena is affecting the whole group simultaneously. Judging from our figures for personal, parental and familial ability in Breton and in French, language change from monolingual Breton speakers to monolingual French speakers has been almost totally completed within two generations.

In summary, it would appear that between 1950 and 1970, according to the area concerned, parents stopped using Breton with their children. Only a small minority of rural families use Breton as their only home language, and very few young people under 25 use the language among themselves, although they will speak to grandparents/parents in Breton. What growth is present, is in urban based "revived"/"retrieved" Breton speaking families, such as those behind the Diwan movement since 1977.

The Survey has suggested that some 22% of Breton speakers attend mass regularly. In fact this figure does not even represent weekly attendance as few parishes in the Breton speaking areas are in a position to hold a mass every week as they may share a priest with several other parishes. Evenso, the Church might have been expected to be an agency for language affirmation and reproduction. Several factors have militated against this.

Firstly, the most strongly Breton speaking areas are also the most communist voting with a strong tradition of anti-clericalism. In addition to this the Church plays an important educational rôle in Brittany and as such is the agent of the state curriculum in the country. The majority of Breton pupils attend State subsidized Catholic schools. The administrative structures of the Catholic Church also shadow the power and geopolitical structures of the State.

Breton has a very limited use in the activities of the Curch, despite the fact that the Survey shows the priests often to be Breton speakers. The State language dominates all fields of worship except the cantiques, specifically Breton hymns.

Both the TMO Ouest Survey, and the Euromosaic Survey have shown that the majority of Breton speakers are in the agricultural and lower income categories of the labour market, and that there are comparatively few Breton speaking professionals. Only a minority have been through the higher education system. Indeed, even in the Breton speaking areas the Survey reveals that most professionals cannot speak the language. Most Bretons accept that their language has low status, and is dying away, yet there is no evidence to suggest that they regard their language with disdain, the majority of them disagreeing with the supposition that they are considered as uneducated or as rustics if they speak Breton. Paradoxically, Breton is becoming a private language that is retreating from community life just when its public image is brightening up with the rise in Breton medium schooling, and the high symbolic profile that some councils are attaching to it.

Most respondents in the Survey retained their Breton identity, despite the retreat of the language. Not unsurprisingly, in the light of this, most agree that Brittany's identity is dependant on the fate of the language, and that children should be taught the language. All but local government are singled out as culprits in the neglect of Breton, as are the Church, banks, and private companies. Most respondents rate their own and their family and freinds' loyalty to the language highly.

It may seem curious in the light of these remarks that the majority, though not all, of the respondents also say that they are French. This can be interpreted in several ways, and is characteristic of the French situation. At one level, the French notions of nationality and of citizenship are identitical, and so the majority of the population simply accepts their Frenchness as a result of, or as an integral part of the fact of their citizenship. Indeed, several of the older respondents were puzzled by the question. In this context the problem of liking or disliking the fact of one's citizenship is irrelevant in the context of the undeniable evidence of one's nationality. On an other level, the French State has evolved a particular discourse stemming from the construction of the very structures of the State itself through a supposed struggle against internal tyrants and external threats. This discourse necessitates the formation of universally (that is within France) acceptable social categories of a neo-tribal "us" and "them" nature. In this discourse all citizens must have "Frenchness" as a basic element of their identity. Such theory was given a constitutional airing in 1991 when the Constitutional Court rejected the French government's proposal to institutionalize the existence of a separate Corsican identity. In the light of this one might be surprised to see that nearly one in five of the respondents specifically says that s/he is not French.

Local identity also remains very strong, while this sample of the Breton population was, at 40%, still fairly ambivalent about its "European" identity.

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3.8. Transnational exchanges

No data for this topic.

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4. Conclusion

It is clear that the Breton language group is approaching a state of crisis. The relatively large number of speakers is virtually disappearing over a period of two generations. This largely derives from the negative identity associated with a prolonged period not only of neglect, but of hostility on the part of a state which has been constructed on the basis of a normativity that systematicaly fails to accomodate any sense of bilingualism that draws upon its internal cultural diversity. It is hardly surprising therefore that the state agencies of language production and reproduction are limited to say the least. As a consequence, the agencies of reproduction within civil society are constantly weakening, leaving little hope for the continued promotion of the language group. The almost complete absence of language prestige means that motivation is lacking for many, and for those with a positive motivational orientation, it derives from ideological rather than an instrumental link. There is a resultant sense of urgency about any attempt to promote the language group.

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