Structure of a Regional Language Of France: The Structure of Breton

FRIT-F581 — Fall 2023

Kevin Rottet
Course Description

Breton, the traditional language of Brittany (western France), belongs to the Brythonic branch of Celtic that includes Welsh and Cornish. Though they are members of the Indo-European language family, the Celtic languages display numerous typologically “exotic” features that are rarely or never found elsewhere in Europe. The only extant Celtic language that is not in intense contact with English, Breton is characterized by significant dialect differences, leading to the intriguing possibility that some Breton dialects may in part be continuations of Gaulish, the continental Celtic language of ancient Gaul. In this course we will examine the linguistic structure of modern Breton, including its morphophonology (e.g. an elaborate system of initial consonant mutations), morphology (e.g. inflected prepositions, verbal nouns, luxuriant number marking in the noun phrase including singulatives and collectives, duals and double plurals), syntax (e.g. verb-initial word order with V2 effects in main clauses), and lexicon (e.g. a vigesimal counting system, no traditional verb “to have”, a constant and intricate interweaving of material of Celtic origin with material of Romance origin).

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