Breton: Pronunciation of final -z


Senior Member

I've been listening to different versions of the popular Breton song Tri Martolod, and noticed that the word nevez (new) is pronounced /neve/ by some performers, and /nevez/ by others. Most of them are young, so probably they are not native speakers (see version by Nolwenn Leroy). Is it just a French-influenced mispronunciation, or a normal variation?

I thought the "z" should be pronounced, as it appears to correspond to Welsh "dd" (the voiced "th" sound in English):
Br. nevez - W. newydd - Eng. new
Br. menez - W. mynydd - Eng. mountain
Br. bleiz - W. blaidd - Eng. wolf
Br. bloaz - W. blwydd - Eng. year

In the song, the word appears in the place name Douar Nevez, the Breton name for Newfoundland (Terre Neuve in French).
  • spindlemoss

    Senior Member
    Demat! I'm not a Breton speaker, but am interested in the language.

    My first thought was that you may misspelt the word and it should be *nevezh. I thought Welsh dd and Cornish dh might always correspond to Breton zh (which can be pronounced /z/ or /h/ depending on dialect), but no, sorry, I was wrong, it is nevez!

    So I checked out Wiktionary, which has the z as silent: /ˈ and then I looked in Routledge's Colloquial Breton, which states: "As for z, it is often not pronounced when in final position or between vowels."

    Breton orthography has always seemed harder to me than that of Welsh or Cornish, with more exceptions or irregularities. I don't know.

    Hope that's of some help anyway.


    Senior Member
    nevez ['ne:vɛs] a. neuf, nouveau; récent...

    Prononciation des consonnes en finale: Nous donnons la prononciation des mots avec la valeur des consonnes en finale absolue qui est toujours non-voisée et brève quelle qu'en soit l'orthographe. On aura donc toujours ainsi [p], [t], [k], [f], , [ʃ], [x]. En liaison, devant une voyelle, et en géneral devant une consonne voisée, quell qu'en soit l'orthographe, c'est la pronontiation voisée qui prévaut , [d], [g], [f], [z], [ʒ], [ɣ].

    (Mouladurioù hor yezh, brezhoneg-galleg; français-breton, Geriadur divyezhek, 1993.)


    Senior Member
    Diolch yn fawr iawn, spindlemoss, that clears things up a bit.

    Thank you, Agró, for the quote, but it seems to be about final devoicing of voiced consonants (which happens in German and Russian, too), not about the possible or optional deletion of a word-final consonant.
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