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Breton language

Celtic language spoken in France / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Breton (/ˈbrɛtən/ BRET-ən, French: [bʁətɔ̃]; endonym: brezhoneg [bʁeˈzɔ̃ːnɛk] [5] or [brəhɔ̃ˈnek] in Morbihan) is a Southwestern Brittonic language of the Celtic language group spoken in Brittany, part of modern-day France. It is the only Celtic language still widely in use on the European mainland, albeit as a member of the insular branch instead of the continental grouping.[6]

Quick facts: Breton, Pronunciation, Native to, Region...
Side of a stone building next to a stream; low stone wall in the foreground has a sign reading Mill of Chaos in both Breton and French; Meilh ar Cʼhlegr and Moulin du Chaos
Bilingual sign in Huelgoat in Brittany
Pronunciation[bʁeˈzɔ̃ːnɛk], [brəhɔ̃ˈnek]
Native toBrittany (France)
RegionLower Brittany
Native speakers
210,000 in Brittany (2018)[1]
16,000 in Île-de-France[2]
(Number includes students in bilingual education)[3]
Early forms
Old Breton
  • Middle Breton
Latin script (Breton alphabet)
Official status
Recognised minority
language in
Regulated byOfis Publik ar Brezhoneg
Language codes
ISO 639-1br
ISO 639-2bre
ISO 639-3Variously:
bre  Modern Breton
xbm Middle Breton
 obt Old Breton
Linguasphere50-ABB-b (varieties: 50-ABB-ba to -be)
Map showing the percentage of Breton speakers in each country of Brittany, 2018
Percentage of Breton speakers in each country of Brittany, 2018
Breton is classified as Severely Endangered by the UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger[4]
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

Breton was brought from Great Britain to Armorica (the ancient name for the coastal region that includes the Brittany peninsula) by migrating Britons during the Early Middle Ages, making it an Insular Celtic language. Breton is most closely related to Cornish, another Southwestern Brittonic language.[7] Welsh and the extinct Cumbric, both Western Brittonic languages, are more distantly related, and the Goidelic languages (Irish, Manx, Scottish Gaelic) have a slight connection due to both of their origins being from Insular Celtic.

Having declined from more than one million speakers around 1950 to about 200,000 in the first decade of the 21st century, Breton is classified as "severely endangered" by the UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger.[4] However, the number of children attending bilingual classes rose 33% between 2006 and 2012 to 14,709.[3][1]

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