Breton/Breton dialects

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 Introduction to Breton

Breton dialects



The dialects of Breton as identified by ethnologists are Leoneg, Tregerieg, Gwenedeg, and Kerneveg (in French, respectively: léonard, trégorrois, vannetais, and cornouaillais). There are no clear borders between those dialect areas because the language varies slightly from one village to the next. Compared to the other dialects, the Gwenedeg dialect is somewhat more distinct due several pronunciation specificities.

Breton dialectes.svg


The following table shows common and local expressions :
Breton Kalz a vreudeur-gaer.png


Example of Gwenedeg[edit]

Me zo ganet é kreiz er mor

Tèr lèu ér méz;
Un tiig gwenn duhont em-es,
Er benal 'gresk étal en nor
Hag el lann en hol en anvez.
Me zo ganet é kreiz er mor,

E bro Arvor.

Excerpt from "Ar en deulin" from Yann-Ber Calloc'h


Example of Gwenedeg
Gwenedeg Peurunvan English meaning
Me zo ganet é kreiz er mor Me 'zo ganet e-kreiz ar mor I was born in (the middle of) the sea
Tèr lèu ér méz; Teir lev er maez; Three leagues outside;
Un tiig gwenn duhont em-es, Un tiig gwenn du-hont am eus, A small white house I have over there,
Er benal 'gresk étal en nor Ar banal a gresk e-tal an nor Broom grows in front of the door
Hag el lann en hol en anvez. Hag al lann en holl an anavez. And heather all around.
Me zo ganet é kreiz er mor Me zo ganet e-kreiz ar mor I was born in (the middle of) the sea
E bro Arvor. E bro Arvor. In the country of Arvor.



Example of Leoneg[edit]

Digeri a reas he divreh d'he muia-karet heb en em renta kont. Pokad a reent dibaouez an eil d'egile, o muzellou o tañva evid ar wech kenta mel dous ar garantez.

Excerpt from "Ar Vastardez" from Yann-Vadezour Lagadeg.

Example of Leoneg
Leoneg Peurunvan English meaning
Digeri a reas he divreh d'he muia-karet heb en em renta kont. Digeriñ a reas he divrec'h d'he muiañ-karet heb en em rentañ kont. She opened her arms to her beloved boyfriend without realizing.
Pokad a reent dibaouez an eil d'egile, Pokad a reent dibaouez an eil d'egile, They kissed each other without end,
o muzellou o tañva evid ar wech kenta mel dous ar garantez. o muzellou o tañvañ evid ar wech kentañ mel dous ar garantez. their lips tasting for the first time the sweet honey of love.



Breton spellings[edit]

After several attempts at unifying the spelling, two main spellings exist : the "peurunvan" ("completely unified" spelling) and the "skolveurieg" ("university" spelling).

This course uses "peurunvan" as it is today the most commonly used.

"Peurunvan" accomodates for dialectal differences. Most notably, the notation "zh" - used in the name "Breizh" ("Brittany") - must be interpreted according to the dialect spoken.

  • In Leon, it will be most often interpreted as "z" (therefore Breizh is pronounced Breiz).
  • In Gwened (and some part of Kerne), it will often be interpreted as "h" (therefore Breizh is pronounced Breih).

The transcription of "C'h" is also subject to confusion or criticism as pronunciation may widely vary according to the regions.

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