Author Topic: Few things about Breton and the Bretons  (Read 7251 times)

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kentel

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Few things about Breton and the Bretons
« on: March 01, 2012, 02:17:43 PM »
Continuation of a discussion initiated on Debussy's thread and obviously not Debussy-related  :D - although very interesting.

the last question was :

Do the Breton people feel any kind of connection with the rest of France or is it a case like Quebec and the rest of Canada?

Thank you for asking - and for your curiosity about the Breton culture  :)

As I said, this is a complex matter, and I wouldn't give the feeling to talk in the name of all the Bretons.

So, let's divide it into four main categories :

1- a significant number of retired people from Paris and from England - still growing. Their concern about the language and the culture is feeble; they just find the country pleasant to live in, and cheaper than Paris or England. These people are strongly connected with the rest of France (or England), since their roots lies there. Although I suspect the English to be much more curious about the language and the culture than the French are, for historical reasons.

2- The generation of the Bretons born between 1930 and 1950 is another decisive segment of the population : they can often speak the language, especially if they were raised in the countryside. But, at school, where it was forbidden, they've been taught that Breton was "the language of hens and gooses", contrary to French which was the language of a true, unique and superior civilization. Incidentally, the inhabitants of the French colonies have heard the same kind of speech. The brain-wash has been so effective that, in fact, many of these Breton people do feel connected with France, as the servant is connected to his lord.

3- the Breton people who don't care about culture in general, don't care about their own either, you have many of that kind in every country, unfortunately. The discourse here is "why learn Breton, it's better to learn English", which is true, but they can speak neither Breton nor English as a result. They don't know the history of Brittany, but they don't know the history of France either.

4- the Breton people who are culturally involved, who speak Breton, who know the history of Brittany, are overwhelmingly either separatists or federalists, on the model of Scotland or the Basque Country. In fact, the more you know about how France treated the Bretons and their language, the less you like France. That's almost a mathematic equation. But this segment of the population is a minority, and worse than that : a minority who does not live in Brittany anymore, because there's no work there. We are a kind of diaspora.

As for the comparison with Quebec and Canada :

- We have in common that 1- our language and culture is threatened by a huge neighbouring culture (huge in quantity and in quality) and 2- that we depend politically on people from this culture.

- But, Quebec's language is French, that is: a language which is still spoken by many people in the world, which has a great corpus of litterature, and which many people are eager to learn. Breton has none of these advantages : it is spoken by 200 000 people, has very little litterature, and nobody bothers to learn it. Hence, its situation if far weaker than the one of French in Canada, and subsequently many people feel that, without France, Brittany is nonexistent. The Unesco RedBook of Endangered Languages considers Breton as "severely endangered".


Offline Lethevich

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Re: Few things about Breton and the Bretons
« Reply #1 on: March 01, 2012, 03:36:28 PM »
The situation with the language sounds a little like Ireland - the state strongly supports it (as I presume the local government there does), but the natives desire to master it is minimal, despite a strong theoretical curiosity. Wales will be this way soon as well.

Thank you for the interesting post! It reminds me a little of a French equivelent to Cornwall in terms of the "holiday home" and general economic aspect.
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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Few things about Breton and the Bretons
« Reply #2 on: March 01, 2012, 03:52:55 PM »
Thank you so much for this information and your opinions, kentel. It certainly was a fascinating read. I appreciate the time you put into your response.
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kentel

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Re: Few things about Breton and the Bretons
« Reply #3 on: March 03, 2012, 12:18:06 PM »
The situation with the language sounds a little like Ireland - the state strongly supports it (as I presume the local government there does), but the natives desire to master it is minimal, despite a strong theoretical curiosity. Wales will be this way soon as well.

I think that Gaelic's situation in Ireland is quite different : it is an official language, it has the support of the state, it's taught at school. Breton is not officially recognized by the French state (nor is Basque, by the way), it's taught only in culturally involved private schools (a minority). Moreover, Irish is backed by a significant litterary corpus. But, that's right, very few can speak the language (about 20 000), I don't understand why.

Maybe Breton has the particular status of an endangered language people have to fight for, while Irish is now official and compulsory at school. But that does not explain everything. To me it's an enigma.

Thank you for the interesting post! It reminds me a little of a French equivelent to Cornwall in terms of the "holiday home" and general economic aspect.

You're welcome (that's my job); Cornish is closely related to Breton (contrary to Gaelic). And the landscapes of Cornwall and of Brittany are pretty much alike too. I love it.

kentel

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Re: Few things about Breton and the Bretons
« Reply #4 on: March 03, 2012, 12:29:48 PM »
Thank you so much for this information and your opinions, kentel. It certainly was a fascinating read. I appreciate the time you put into your response.

Thank you :)

Offline Papy Oli

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Re: Few things about Breton and the Bretons
« Reply #5 on: March 03, 2012, 12:51:39 PM »
It reminds me a little of a French equivelent to Cornwall in terms of the "holiday home" and general economic aspect.

And the landscapes of Cornwall and of Brittany are pretty much alike too. I love it.

It is quite hard not to fall in love with that region when you have spent some time there  ;) there's always a little part of you that longs to go back at some stage and some attachment remains. My folks did it last year for their retirement. I don't disagree with their choice  ;D


Cornwall is so alike indeed. I visited Looe a few years back. I thought I had landed on the other side of the water  ;D
Olivier

kentel

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Re: Few things about Breton and the Bretons
« Reply #6 on: March 03, 2012, 03:19:16 PM »
Well, I feel I should add something. I'm not sure it is really interesting for anyone here, but when you read propaganda of any kind, you just feel the need to reply, to rectify. So just understand that kentel's message is a load of crap. There is no such thing as a Breton cultury or minority, or diaspora. No sane mind would think that Brittany is not part of France (and one of the most deeply tied with France !). kentel's message is even kind of insulting, accusing those who do not share his ideas to be "brainwashed" and "slaves" to France.

Well, let me just say that what he represents is not a minority but a marginal movement, a few hundreds people at most, who are entertaining themselves with a myth, a forged history, a forged language that their own ancestors did not spoke, a forged culture that mixes very common european folk elements which are not older than the 19th century. And, to be complete, a movement that his historically and deeply anchored in a far-right, reactionary, catholic fundamentalist, xenophobic tradition which is not only ridiculous but kind of stinking.

As a matter of fact, it IS definitely an interesting comment. Here, gentlemen, is a good example of what a French guy may think about Breton and the Breton culture, and how it is considered within a French sociologic context. Thank you for the illustration :)

kentel

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Re: Few things about Breton and the Bretons
« Reply #7 on: March 03, 2012, 03:26:05 PM »
Yes, I'm a French brainwashed slave sent by secret service to contradict Breton resistants on the Internet.

Or I just don't like my country to be wrongfully attacked by little fascist pricks as yourself. Which doesn't mean that I am not Breton, by the way, as you can be French and Breton at the same time (oh, wait, you can and you are, since the 16th century !)

Eeeer... are you drunk ?

Offline Gurn Blanston

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Re: Few things about Breton and the Bretons
« Reply #8 on: March 03, 2012, 03:39:05 PM »
Gentlemen,
Clearly we have different points of view on this subject. And just as it always is (nationalism is second after religion as a cause of discord), there will be no rapprochement reached here. As a result, I will strongly 'suggest' to you both that you refrain from publicly deriding each others agenda, so to speak. We wish you both the best, and have no desire to have anything but harmony here. If that is impossible then there are other pathways available, as repugnant as they may be.

Regards,
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kentel

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Re: Few things about Breton and the Bretons
« Reply #9 on: March 03, 2012, 04:08:37 PM »
Gentlemen,
Clearly we have different points of view on this subject. And just as it always is (nationalism is second after religion as a cause of discord), there will be no rapprochement reached here. As a result, I will strongly 'suggest' to you both that you refrain from publicly deriding each others agenda, so to speak. We wish you both the best, and have no desire to have anything but harmony here. If that is impossible then there are other pathways available, as repugnant as they may be.

Regards,
GB  8)

"different points of view on this subject", that's a funny analysis of the situation, unless you consider something like "fascist little prick" as a point of view... we may not have the same conception of argumentation.

By the way, I have nothing against a good debate with people who don't think the way I do, but in this very case the rules of dialectics and politeness have been both severely infringed (at least in MY opinion). A gentleman cannot utter such things as "fascist little prick".

But OK, I got the message : I won't feed the troll.
« Last Edit: March 03, 2012, 04:14:02 PM by kentel »

Offline Gurn Blanston

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Re: Few things about Breton and the Bretons
« Reply #10 on: March 03, 2012, 04:15:21 PM »
"different points of view on this subject", that's a funny analysis of the situation, unless you consider something like "fascist little prick" as a point of view, we may not have the same conception of argumentation.

By the way, I have nothing against a good debate with people who don't think the way I do, but in this very case the rules of dialectics and politeness have been both severely infringed (at least in MY opinion). A gentleman cannot utter such things as "fascist little prick".

But OK, I got the message : I won't feed the troll.

This is because I am invariably 'nice' the first time I intervene. It doesn't last long, not to worry. Ad hominem attacks are clearly against the rules, but I don't feel a compelling need to spell all that out at this early date. And yes, FYI, I DO consider whether someone is or isn't a fascist little prick to be purely a point of view. You are absolutely correct though, it is outside the bounds of polite discourse to come right out and say it. I think the point is made sufficiently.

GB 8)
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kentel

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Re: Few things about Breton and the Bretons
« Reply #11 on: March 03, 2012, 04:25:28 PM »
This is because I am invariably 'nice' the first time I intervene. It doesn't last long, not to worry. Ad hominem attacks are clearly against the rules, but I don't feel a compelling need to spell all that out at this early date. And yes, FYI, I DO consider whether someone is or isn't a fascist little prick to be purely a point of view. You are absolutely correct though, it is outside the bounds of polite discourse to come right out and say it. I think the point is made sufficiently.

GB 8)

Thanks for the explanation :)

And to be specific : I am neither little nor fascist (nor nationalist, nor religiously or politically involved either).

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Re: Few things about Breton and the Bretons
« Reply #12 on: March 03, 2012, 04:33:14 PM »
Thanks for the explanation :)

And to be specific : I am neither little nor fascist (nor nationalist, nor religiously or politically involved either).

You're most welcome.

Oddly, all those things apply to me too. Including the omitted bit. :D

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Offline Lethevich

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Re: Few things about Breton and the Bretons
« Reply #13 on: March 03, 2012, 04:37:15 PM »
Or I just don't like my country to be wrongfully attacked by little fascist pricks as yourself. Which doesn't mean that I am not Breton, by the way, as you can be French and Breton at the same time (oh, wait, you can and you are, since the 16th century !)

Doesn't the opinion you're attacking not usually mean the opposite, though? Different branches of localism and regionalism can be found throughout Europe, and ultimately, the opinions of people living within an area in question are more important than people in a wider, less-related area in terms of what should happen there. Whether claims towards major regional differentiation and identity are actually true or not can be argued (I subscribe to Freud's "narcissism of small differences" thoughts regarding, say, Scotland and England), but assuming good faith is wise. The F-word I associate more with attempts at wide-control, regionalism could be more described as navel-gazing in some respects.

If, as you suggest, a majority lack of interest in greater autonomy stems from a strong identity with France, rather than with apathy/influx (as kentel partly indicates) - this is where most discussion can arise, but even in a worse-case scenario I would consider an opposing view to be wrong rather than repugnant - after all, it just stems from a love of the area in question. There are continual (minor) 'Wessex' movements, coming from people who identify with the English south-west and wish it to experience more regional awareness. I view this as a bit odd, but as somebody who lives there I don't really care either way -  ultimately matters will be decided for themselves by the majority opinion of the areas in question, and at the moment that position is negligible. Maybe I might become more concerned with it if a real "movement" arose, but if there is almost no such thing in Brittany, surely you should not feel quite so emotional about the subject? I don't find it coincidental that the further you get from centres of authority, the more likely you are to find secessionist ideas in a country, it is a cultural response to a feeling out being disconnected, and perfectly valid, and therefore it makes fine sense for people with kentel's opinions to speak them. It is good to hear a different side on the subject, and I welcome it, but the avenue to a discussion seems to have been intentionally sabotaged, making it difficult for the reader to assess the truth of each side.

Btw, are you the Amazon reviewer with the same (or similar) name? I really like what you do, although because of Amazon's system can't vote on them.
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kentel

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Re: Few things about Breton and the Bretons
« Reply #14 on: March 03, 2012, 05:04:50 PM »
It is good to hear a different side on the subject, and I welcome it, but the avenue to a discussion seems to have been intentionally sabotaged, making it difficult for the reader to assess the truth of each side.

That's correct (unfortunately).

I could present a rebuttal for each of his assertions (I'm not only Breton, I'm also a professor a comparative linguistics in a state university and I have a decent insight into the matter I'm talking about, or at least I guess), but yes, it seems that the discussion is rather compromised...

However, I can suggest a very good reading about policies of language maintenance, revival and revitalization for those who would like to go deeper in the matter and who would be eager to make their own opinion :



and this one :



These are reference books on the subject, I don't think there are better ones.

Offline Gurn Blanston

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Re: Few things about Breton and the Bretons
« Reply #15 on: March 03, 2012, 05:23:14 PM »
Actually, I don't take either side. As you can see in my first post, I am simply saying 'watch what you say' to both of the parties to the discussion. My level of interest in the specifics of the discussion is so low as to be non-existent. So that's the side I've taken. You may certainly do whatever your intellect tells you that you must do, but don't satisfy yourself that you were driven off by moderator abuse. Your issues are your own, and none of mine. It's a pity though, when the discussion is music, we all seem to get along much better. An object lesson for the group.

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Re: Few things about Breton and the Bretons
« Reply #16 on: March 03, 2012, 06:13:26 PM »
Actually, I don't take either side. As you can see in my first post, I am simply saying 'watch what you say' to both of the parties to the discussion. My level of interest in the specifics of the discussion is so low as to be non-existent. So that's the side I've taken. You may certainly do whatever your intellect tells you that you must do, but don't satisfy yourself that you were driven off by moderator abuse. Your issues are your own, and none of mine. It's a pity though, when the discussion is music, we all seem to get along much better. An object lesson for the group.

GB

Gurn? Why do you hate the French so much?

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Re: Few things about Breton and the Bretons
« Reply #17 on: March 03, 2012, 06:58:13 PM »
Gurn? Why do you hate the French so much?

Right; them and rabbits... ::)

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Philoctetes

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Re: Few things about Breton and the Bretons
« Reply #18 on: March 03, 2012, 08:00:53 PM »
Right; them and rabbits... ::)

8)

CONSPIRACY!

;D

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Few things about Breton and the Bretons
« Reply #19 on: March 03, 2012, 09:41:29 PM »
I happen to like the French and I admire and am astonished by their culture, cuisine, arts, music, etc. What I don't understand is this bickering back and forth and the personal attacks. There are sometimes I feel that I'm not an American and feel that I don't belong in this country because my world views don't always coincide with the American ideal, but I am an American and will be until the day I die. Am I proud of many of the decisions my country has made? Absolutely not, but I am for freedom of expression, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, etc. I don't live in France and I don't live in Brittany, but Brittany is apart of France just like Alaska or Hawaii is apart of the United States. Why should these two states be treated differently? There are so many differences between an American Southerner and an American Northerner. But these differences don't change the fact that we both live in the same country and speak the same language. I don't know the history between France and Brittany, but it's clearly history, I hope.

It pains me to see that somebody would leave this forum just because one person's opinion. There have been times when I have been offended, but it doesn't stop me from continuing to post. I understand both sides of the fence in this issue, but at the same time, I think both parties should try and be civil. This isn't worth losing your head over.
« Last Edit: March 03, 2012, 09:43:27 PM by Mirror Image »
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