Monday, 12 August 2019

tro breizh

Unlikely as we are to encounter any of the Breton language on our upcoming trip to Brittany (Breizh, Bretagne) peninsula, like during past excursions (nearly on our Blogoversary and subject of the first post, no less), it’s no less fun to brush up on it—just in case.
France’s policy on minority languages has been less willing to embrace reform than its neighbours—originally translating regional stereotypes (like the English term barbarian, the French verb baragoiner, to yammer away in a foreign tongue, is souced to brezhoneg bread and wine—bara ha gwin) to suppression with the Revolution with the belief it was a tool of the aristocracy to keep the rural classes uninformed and disengaged, perpetuated by 1994 legislation called Loi Toubon, named for the culture minister who sponsored it. Called the Allgood Law in jest (the literal meaning of the name), it was meant to protect the French language form the encroaching hegemony of English but also restricts state support for Breton and other endangered languages.
Nonetheless the language does have its champions and is slowly coming into view for natives and tourists alike.  The flag, Gwenn-ha-du—the Black and White—referencing the ancient coat-of-arms of ermine with design inspiration from the US Stars and Stripes, was created in 1923 by architect and separatist Morvan Marchal.  Marchal pledged that the symbol would “gather those of our compatriots who do not want to confuse Brittany with the Church; Brittany with reaction; Brittany with puerile anti-French bias; Brittany with capitalism; and even less with racism” to make a stand against other proponents for regional autonomy whom later the Nazis would leverage the most extreme as a recruiting base for agitators and collaborators whose courtship was dropped the moment that they had served their purpose.