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‘We have met the enemy, and he is us’: Reversing Language Shift in Brittany

Abstract : The alarming statistics concerning the continuing collapse in the use of the Breton language contrast strangely with the consistent results of surveys revealing the attachment that Bretons feel for that language: these show a substantial and increasing commitment to conserve this language. The two contradictory examples suggest a scissors effect taking shape. However, these forms of evidence do not represent realities of a comparable nature: the data concerning the linguistic practice reflects deep, demographic, evolutions, while the data concerning the attachment to the Breton language concern expressions of feeling. To understand properly the relationship of the Bretons to their language, it is appropriate to present a detailed analysis which shows not only what this language represents to them, in general terms, but, furthermore, the correlations between attachment to the Breton language and social origins, geographic locations and types of identity. In this article, we construct such an analysis, referring to evidence gathered by both quantitative methods (surveys) and qualitative methods (interviews). The relation of the Bretons with their language has been shaped by their recent history and by the authority structures that have transformed their language into a marginalised, threatened form. To be effective, measures taken to reverse this language shift must take account of all these factors. Based on this analysis, we suggest three types of emergency measures in favour of the Breton language: to reinforce the `points of support’, to build bridges and to communicate.
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Contributor : Ronan Le Coadic <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, July 28, 2020 - 4:19:25 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, July 30, 2020 - 3:50:24 AM
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We have met the enemy, and he ...
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  • HAL Id : hal-02908263, version 1


Ronan Le Coadic. ‘We have met the enemy, and he is us’: Reversing Language Shift in Brittany. 2013. ⟨hal-02908263⟩



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