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Celtic: Breton vs other Celtic languages

Discussion in 'Other Languages' started by Tupp, Sep 26, 2012.

  1. Tupp Senior Member

    English - Australia
    I'm wondering if people who speak Breton can communicate with the speakers of Cornish (although I know there are very few Cornish speakers) and Welsh? Or is it simply that there are some common threads that connect the languages.

    Trugarez!
     
  2. Santana2002 Senior Member

    France
    English, from Ireland
    I can't speak for Breton-Cornish, but comparing Breton to Irish there is a reasonable amount of vocabulary in common. The spelling of the words is not the same, the rules of grammar and often the pronunciation is altered, but the very basic meaning can often be understood with a little thought (eg House=Ty (Breton), Tig (Scots Gaelic), Teach (Irish)). I wouldn't say that fluid conversation would be understood by both sides, but some communication could probably occur.
     
  3. auptitgallo Senior Member

    Côtes d'Armor
    English
    A quick reply from Central Brittany... When I was a child (in the 1950s) my disabled grandmother had a cook at the family farm in Jersey, who was Cornish. Each summer Breton labourers arrived with their families to work in the tomato fields, and were housed around the farm. Many a time I heard Cook (talking Cornish) having a laugh and a joke with the Bretons as they made their way to and from the fields. So they could certainly communicate. However, one year the usual families, from Perros-Guirec, were replaced by others from Saint-Pol-de-Léon, and Roscoff. Cook was flummoxed by their accent and dialect and was unable to communicate.
     
  4. auptitgallo Senior Member

    Côtes d'Armor
    English
    More specifically, it depends what you mean by "Breton". In spite of attempts to teach a unified Breton language in some schools nowadays, there are many different strands: Cornouaillais, Vannetais, Trégorrois, Léonard. One local radio station in Pontivy, Radio Bro Gwened, broadcasts in Vannetais, while a sister-station Radio Kreiz Breizh, broadcasts more in Trégorrois. My Irish friend (and Irish speaker) Padraig C. cannot understand either broadcast, and communicates with both stations in French.
     
  5. Tupp Senior Member

    English - Australia
    Thank you for your informative responses. Auptitgallo, I particularly enjoyed the story about your cook. When you say Irish, is it the same as Gaellic?
     
  6. Santana2002 Senior Member

    France
    English, from Ireland
    Gaelic in its pure sense means 'pertaining to the gaels', and is a term commonly used to refer to several celtic languages, Irish gaelic being one of them. There is also Scots gaelic and Manx gaelic, which have similar roots and origins, are not a dialect, and are individual languages in their own rights. "Irish" for me is specifically 'Irish gaelic' (gaeilge, in the language itself).
     
  7. Tupp Senior Member

    English - Australia
    Thanks Santana. Breton is in a different category to these though, isn't it? I read something today about Q Celtic and P Celtic, with Irish belonging to the former and Breton the latter, hence why Auptitgallo's Irish friend can't understand the Breton radio stations. Meanwhile Welsh and Cornish are in the P Celtic language group along with Breton. I really find this fascinating!!!
     
  8. wildan1

    wildan1 Moderando ma non troppo

    MODERATOR NOTE:

    As this thread does not deal with French or English, it has been moved from the French-English Forum to the "Other Languages" Forum.

    wildan1, Moderator
     
  9. Tegs

    Tegs Mód ar líne

    Wales
    English (Ireland), Welsh, Irish
    Breton is much closer to Welsh than Irish, since it is, as you say, a P Celtic language, whereas Irish (Gaeilge) and Scottish Gaelic are Q Celtic languages. There are many similarities between Welsh and Breton, so if you speak Welsh and French, you can understand some things, and probably it is easier to learn it. I don't think you'd understand whole conversations though (I've not heard enough Breton to know, I can just see the similarities in certain words and phrases - I speak Welsh).
     
  10. Tupp Senior Member

    English - Australia
    Thanks Tegs.
     
  11. Cerinwen Junior Member

    Welsh, English - British
    Hello, I'm a native Welsh speaker and I don't understand Breton. To my ears it sounds much more like French than it does a Celtic language. It's possible this is because of French's strong dominance, or because a lot of Breton speakers could possibly be learners who's native language is actually French, so they speak Breton with a French accent.


    I think Breton may be closer to Cornish than it is to Welsh. French and Romanian have both developed from Latin, and even though they may recognise some similarities in their languages, it doesn't mean they could understand each other.
     
  12. Cilquiestsuens Senior Member

    French
    Breton and Cornish must have been mutually intelligible until the last native Cornish speaker died, both languages seem to be so close to one another that they look more like dialects of the same language.

    'Natural' Breton speakers don't have a French accent. Unfortunately, the authentic accent is more and more replaced by the French one nowadays. A few examples of authentic Breton speakers. (Click on 'Voir le média')

    LINK 1

    LINK 2

    (In the second link, a Welshman, an American and a Japanese speak a perfectly idiomatic Breton, amazing !)
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2012
  13. L'irlandais

    L'irlandais Senior Member

    Dreyeckland/Alsace region
    Ireland: English-speaking ♂
    Only the word "beo" stood out for me in Gaelic ; however I felt I understood several French loan words in those recordings, is that possible?
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2012
  14. tirop New Member

    English
    I've just watched both of those videos, and (with only one exception) all of the speakers (curiously even including the foreigners you mentioned) sound "French" to me, in varying degrees.

    The one exception is the first man being interviewed in the first video. His accent sounds almost Scottish-like to my ears, although I can hear a few French-sounding vowels in there too.

    Bear in mind this is my opinion as a native English speaker who has never heard Breton before (although I am familiar with how Welsh and Irish Gaelic sound).
     
  15. Cilquiestsuens Senior Member

    French
    You are perfectly right. There are loads of French loans in Breton.

    The only person with some French accent in my opinion is the second speaker of the first video. And indeed, the man from Kleder (the first one) has a genuine breton accent! As for the vowels, breton not only has the eu and u of French, but this has nothing to do with borrowing, for the following reasons: 1. Cornish has the same series of vowels; 2. breton has not exactly the same pair of those vowels as French (for instance it has two different 'u', an more open and a close one (French only has the 'open' one, which is not so open actually.). You can't call those French vowels, then.
     
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2012
  16. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    Norway
    Polish
    I was once involved in a discussion at the Irish forum about the English accent of many Irish Gaelic speakers I heard in Youtube recordings. I was rebuked by many, teaching me that genuine Irish Gaelic has nothing in common with English in sounds, accent or intonation. I wasn’t however convinced, and I found several recordings of Scottish Gaelic which I found having far less “English flavor”. Out of this I concluded that either virtually all Irish Gaelic speakers have a pronunciation influenced by the English language, or the English accent has been strongly influenced by Irish, especially taking into consideration that English sounds are so different from all other Germanic languages. The phonetic dialect continuum beginning in West Finland with the Fenno-Swedish, going through Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Holland, stops with an abrupt break at the English Channel.
     
  17. Tegs

    Tegs Mód ar líne

    Wales
    English (Ireland), Welsh, Irish
    I have never heard any Irish speakers speaking Irish with an English accent - perhaps the videos you saw were of people from England who had learnt Irish? (Even non-Irish speaking people from Ireland do not speak with English accents - they have Irish accents...)
     
  18. L'irlandais

    L'irlandais Senior Member

    Dreyeckland/Alsace region
    Ireland: English-speaking ♂
    Hi Tegs,
    Ben Jamin is refering to this other discussion :Irish: the sound of the language from May, last year.
    It would appear (to me) that, the objection is to the authenticity of the accents of "so called native Irish speakers" in the 20 or so clips viewed by Ben.

    I went to the trouble of getting permission to link some audio to allow comparission. If someone could link Guy Pearce doing the "Abdication speech" in the recent film "The King's speech", for an authentic sound of English, that should put an end to this particular debate.

    Dear Ben Jamin,
    Yes the English spoken in Ireland has been heavily influenced by Gaelic sounds, & yes, I accept too what others have said ; ie. that (in general) the Irish spoken by those of us who are of English mother tongue (a majority of us) sounds less Gaelic than that spoken by genuine native speakers. But as I have already taken the trouble to point out, many of the older generation are not well represented on the World Wide Web. This may explain why the (tiny) sample of 20 clips you viewed were unrepresentative of true native speakers.
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2012
  19. Tegs

    Tegs Mód ar líne

    Wales
    English (Ireland), Welsh, Irish
    Yikes, this is a bit of a minefield lads. How do you classify a "genuine native speaker," for one thing? Is my native Irish, that I learnt to speak before English, less "native-sounding" because I grew up in a city, surrounded by English speakers, rather than in Corca Dhorcha? Not all of us sound like old men from the hills! (And that's because most of us are not, in fact, old men from the hills.)

    Irish sounds nothing like English, and I'd be surprised if native English speakers disagreed on that front. Maybe Irish sounds like English to foreign people, but I have also had Italians thinking I am German when I speak Irish due to the "ch" sound. So, it's hardly an accurate science...

    (Unfortunately I have no audio on my computer, but thanks for the links l'Irlandais, I will check them out later.)
     
  20. Tupp Senior Member

    English - Australia
    Takes an Aussie to do a good British accent! Haha.
     
  21. Cerinwen Junior Member

    Welsh, English - British
    I've just heard the clip. I wouldn't say that Breton sounds like Welsh, but he doesn't sound French either. He has a nasal 'o' which French has, but this would more than understandable because the two languages live side by side, and French has been dominant. The second man definitely has a French accent.

    Benjamin, people tend to get quite sensitive over this issue with native accents. I can usually tell if someone has an English-only speaking parent because it will come through in their accent when speaking Welsh, although it can be very subtle (or not, it depends).

    Tegs, I used to think that if someone had a strong south Welsh accent, then that would mean they would be able to speak perfectly with a natural accent when they learnt the Welsh language.......but not so! I've heard people with a strong south Valleys accents speak with a terrible accent when they speak Welsh, despite knowing how the words are meant to sound like. This is because English requires you to use different parts of the mouth, and Welsh requires you to use other parts. This influences your mouth over time, and I'm guessing it it's the same with Irish Gaelic. For example, many non-Welsh speaking people from south Wales, despite having a strong accent, do not roll their 'r' anymore as they have adopted the English pronunciation,(the 'r' in Welsh language is always rolled).

    A lot of northerners in Wales think that southerners sound like English people speaking Welsh, and this is why we often find them so hard to understand. It's true to certain extent. When a lot of southerners speak Welsh their vowels are quite undefined and sloppy, for lack of a better word. Welsh vowels are meant to be open and sharp (you'll hear these sorts of vowels in Spanish and Italian as well).

    The reason for this because a lot of southerners learn Welsh as a second language, often at school. Even if they speak it fluently, they still retain this Welsh learner accent (and they won't necessarily have a native speaker teaching them Welsh). You can hear a lot of this accent in the south east, where there's been a strong push to revive the language. It's now common to have grandparents who spoke a bit of Welsh, parents who don't speak any, but people under the age of 28 who speak it to an intermediate - fluent level.

    However, I'd like to point out that a pure southern accent does exist, but sadly it is much rarer. Of the Welsh speakers I've met in south Wales, only 1 out of 10 or even 1 out of 15 will speak with this pure south Welsh accent.

    It's really interesting that Breton has two 'u' sounds. It's interesting because Welsh has 'u' but it has a flatter, less rounded sound than the French 'u', and it comes from the very front of the mouth. It's like Breton has kept the celtic 'u' and also adopted the French one.
     
  22. WestFevalia

    WestFevalia Senior Member

    French
    I agree with you.
    I've heard once that few centuries ago, young Breton men used to go to Cornwall (to study I think) and could easily understand the language. It seems that Cornish and Breton are the most closely related Celtic languages. The (few) Cornish words I've read do look like their Breton cognates.
    The same goes for Welsh, I think, although there's less likeness between the two languages. But I remember I managed to translate a (short :D) Welsh sentence into French just by comparing it with Breton.
     

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