07 April 2011

F is for

I am a want to be french speaker, I manage to make myself understood when I am in France but I would love to be fluent in my use of it.. instead I find myself having to think about what to say before I can say it..

So today, F is for French which in Cornish is Frynkek and in Welsh Ffrengig.

There is a part of France which has strong links with Cornwall, and that is Brittany.

Breton is a Celtic language closely related to Welsh and Cornish. From the Revolution, which imposed a single French language, the number of Breton speakers slowly dwindled. In the 19th century, the Third Republic, while instituting schooling for all, insisted on French as the sole language. Now, just a small number of Bretons stick tenaciously to their native tongue.

Breton may not have managed to survive as vibrantly as Welsh, but if you’re from Wales, or have visited that country, you may spot many familiar words in Brittany. ‘Kreis ker’, for example, means ‘town centre’. ‘Ker’ is a word you’ll see a lot, signalling a locality. ‘Pen’ or ‘penn’ (headland or end), is another word commonly found either side of the Celtic Channel ; Finistère is thus known as Penn ar Bed, ‘the end of the earth’, in Breton. Add ‘pen’ to ‘ty’ (house), and you get a ‘penty’ – Breton for ‘end of a house’, i.e. a cottage.

When Bretons refer to the Gwenn ha du (‘black and white’ in Breton), they mean the stripy Breton flag. You’ll see it flying all over the place. Although so engrained in the regional consciousness now, the pattern was only invented between the wars. The five black stripes represent the dioceses of eastern Brittany, the four black ones those of western Brittany. The earlier flag is a complete opposite of the cornish flag of St Piran.


Karen Walker said...

I'd love to speak French as well, but alas, I only know English and a bit of Spanish. Nice to "meet" you.

Manzanita said...

Me too, I want to learn French but I think you have to have someone to have a conversation with.

spikenw5 said...

'Gwenn ha du' translates as white and black rather than black and white (and 'du' sounds like 'dee' rather than 'doo')

Sage said...

Thanks for this, and for the pronunciation.. always welcomed...