Musicians' Diary

5 facts & Numbers about Breton Language

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5 facts about Breton language
5 facts about Breton language

   – 1 – Breton is… a language

Which means, from a linguistic point of view, it is a language, with its own own specific grammar, syntax and vocabulary, and not a dialect derived from French. Of course, it contains many words derived from French, just like French also has some words from Breton.


   – 2 – Breton is a Celtic Language

Where French is a Latin language, Breton is from the Celtic branch of Indo-European languages, and is related to Welsh and Cornish (‘P’ Celtic languages) as well as to Irish, Scottish Gaelic and Manx (to a certain extend…).

When we look at old Cornish grammars (the last person speaking fluently the language is said to have died in 1777 – although there are groups of “neo-Cornish-speakers”), it really is very similar to modern Breton.


Celtic languages family
Celtic languages family

   – 3 – Breton is a written language

Just because it is not an official language ( it is the only spoken Celtic language that isn’t recognised as an official or regional language), it is not taught in most schools doesn’t mean it can not be written. And indeed it has been written for centuries, The Leyde Manuscript (790) being a well-know example of old Breton.

Leyde Manuscript – Image source ><


   – 4 – About 200000 people speak Breton

Last official survey in 2007 indicates that 206000 people in Brittany speak Breton (out of the 4,3 Million inhabitants in the province). In 1999, 61% of them were over 60 years.

More recent sources >here< (in French, but numbers are quite easy to understand 🙂 )


   – 5 – 14 709 children get education in Breton at school

In 2012-13, 14 709 pupils (from age 3-18) get to study in Breton, within 3 systems:

  • Diwan: private schools with 100% teaching in Breton (except French and foreign languages)
  • Div-Yezh: public bilingual school system
  • Dihun: private bilingual school system

In 2011 it represented 1,62% of the total number of Breton pupils.

Astrakan world music album on band camp