The persistence of verb second in negative utterances in Breton

Holly J. Kennard
  • Journal of Historical Linguistics, January 2014, John Benjamins
  • DOI: 10.1075/jhl.4.1.01ken

Breton sentence structure across different generations of speakers

What is it about?

Breton is an endangered language, and has seen a rapid decline in the number of speakers, as well as, more recently, a period of revitalisation. How has this affected the structure of the language itself? This paper examines the sentence structure of Breton as spoken by older and younger speakers, to see if and how they differ.

Why is it important?

The findings in this paper show that despite the fact that younger Breton speakers are all bilingual, speaking French and Breton, the sentence structures that they use in Breton are not influenced by those of French. Rather, the traditional Breton patterns are being maintained by the younger generation. Breton may therefore be changing less than might be expected, given its precarious position as an endangered language.


Dr Holly Jane Kennard (Author)
University of Oxford

Unless more younger people start speaking Breton, it is likely to die out within a generation. I wanted to find out how younger Breton speakers use the language, and what their Breton is like. Having the opportunity to work with older native speakers as well was a real privilege. I hope this paper sheds some light on a lesser-studied language.

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The following have contributed to this page: Dr Holly Jane Kennard