Aug 12, 2015

Bretagne: Language Rights Demanded in Lorient

On the occasion of the interceltic festival of Lorient, a symbolic protest was held to demand that the Breton language be recognized and taught at the University of South Brittany, where Breton courses have been removed from the academic curriculum.  This protest took place in light of a rising concern that the Breton language is becoming merely folkloric.

Below is an article by Agence Bretagne Press:

The existence of the Breton language is being endangered by the University of South Brittany (UBS) at the same time that prestigious universities such as Harvard and Oxford offer linguistic courses that includes Breton. The course « Breton and Celtic civilisation » has been wiped off the map. Another module entitled « Breton language », set up during the creation of the university, is now on the way to disappear too, while the university's celebrating its 20 years of existence.

The teaching of these modules was upheld by a university lecturer for a few years but who was then removed and replaced by somebody with a provisional contract. No more information concerning the Breton options is being made available: is this a mere retention of information or is it misinformation campaign? In September 2013, new students were informed that the Breton course options would no longer be taught.

The university President, a linguist, has made the conscious choice of avoiding all references to the Breton language in the university. This is why we performed a symbolic action in the interceltic festival of Lorient to ask for the right for our language to be recognized and learned in University of South Brittany (UBS), especially given that future teachers are now being trained in the academic degrees in universities. To illustrate the urgency of the matter, to date there is no training for bilingual teachers in Morbihan.  Overall, as we speak again of the European charter for regional or minority languages in France, the position of the Breton language is reduced to a minimum in a festival where « interceltic » is the key word (we highly recommend to the festival-goers to walk with a magnifying glass to spot the little of Breton in the festival's displays). 

Is the festival really « Celtic » when we know such notion also includes the languages? Celtic languages, and especially the Breton language, are considered as no more than a folkloric subject.