Finding a place for Breton in 21st-century French society
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Recent census data have shown that the number of Breton speakers in Lower Brittany has continued to drop despite revitalization efforts. A problem minority languages face is struggling to maintain a place in the lives of the people who have adopted the dominant language. In this study, I assess the current problems faced by the Breton language today by examining a few select problems. First, I highlight the lack of situations in which speakers can use Breton. Even children attending immersion programs often do not live in a Breton-speaking household, nor do they have settings outside the school where they can practice the language. Secondly, I consider the ideological place of Breton in the minds of speakers. Many people feel that while Breton is important to their heritage, they do not need to actively speak it in order to associate with a Breton identity. Related to this is the opinion of many people that Breton is an outdated language with no future ahead of it, as revealed by recent research (Broudic 2009, Jones1998, Timm 2001). Finally, the creation of a new, standardized Breton known as neo-Breton adds to the problem of finding a place for the language; older speakers who use traditional Breton are marginalized, while it is the young speakers using neo- Breton. I use current census data as well as personal research conducted in Brittany in July 2010 to supplement my assessment of the current Breton situation. While progress has been slow, Breton is gaining a stronger presence in society.