Brittany: decline, cultural revival and language policy Cover Image

Bretania: upadek, odrodzenie kulturowe i polityka językowa
Brittany: decline, cultural revival and language policy

Author(s): Nicole Dołowy-Rybińska
Subject(s): Cultural Essay, Political Essay, Societal Essay
Published by: Instytut Slawistyki Polskiej Akademii Nauk
Keywords: Brittany; language policy; the Breton language

Summary/Abstract: Brittany was included in France in the 16th century. It was the time when the process of denationalization and cultural assimilation of its inhabitants started. Main method applied in the battle against the Bretons derived from the language policy with the main aim to eliminate the Breton language from being widely used in the region. That tendency considerably strengthened during the French Revolution. Speaking Breton was banned in schools and in public life as damaging the unity of the state. The Bretons became the object of jeering being often humiliated by the official authorities. As a result they developed negative identity which led to driving their language out and interrupting its intergenerational transmission and causing almost total death of it. Cultural revival of Brittany started in the 1970s and has been slowly changing people’s attitude to tradition and culture. Many organizations and activists have been concentrating on saving the Breton language, not only as a symbol of cultural dissimilarity of inhabitants of this region, but also as immense cultural value. However, the attitude of France, that has always negated the existence of minorities on its own territory and regards French as the sole language of the Republic, makes the situation of an endangered language very difficult. Without recognition of people’s right to use their mother language and enforcing its status as co-official language, all the operations led by non-government organizations within the region have little chance to succeed. Thus the situation of the Breton language, that has become one of the most endangered languages, is alarming.

  • Issue Year: 2007
  • Issue No: 30
  • Page Range: 145-164
  • Page Count: 20
  • Language: Polish