Learn Hebrew online

Talk In Arabic

Breton (ar brezhoneg)

Breton is a Celtic language spoken mainly in Brittany (Breizh) by about 210,000 people, about 35,000 of whom speak use it as an everyday language. It is spoken mainly in western parts of Brittany, and is also spoken, to some extent, in parts of eastern Brittany, and by Breton immigrants in other parts of France, and in other countries.


The area known to the Romans as Armorica was renamed Brittany ("Little Britain") after the people who migrated there from Britain, particularly from Cornwall, in the 6th century AD.

Breton at a glance

  • Native name: brezhoneg [bʀe.ˈzõː.nɛk]
  • Linguistic affliation: Indo-European, Celtic, Insular Celtic, Brittonic, Southwestern
  • Number of speakers: c. 210,000
  • Spoken in: Brittany, France
  • First written: 9th century
  • Writing system: Latin alphabet
  • Status: recognised as a minority language in Brittany

Between 1880 to the middle of the 20th century, Breton was banned from schools and children were punished for speaking it. This changed in 1951 with the promulgation of the Deixonne law, which allowed for the Breton language and culture to be taught for one to three hours a week in public education if the teacher is willing and able to do so. Since then a number of schools and colleges have been set up providing either education through the medium of Breton or bilingual Breton/French education.

Breton first appeared in writing in 790 AD in a manuscript entitled le manuscrit de Leyde, a botanical treatise in Breton and Latin. The first printed text in Breton, a passion play, made its appearance in 1530. In the 19th century there was a revival of Breton literature and it continues to flourish today.


There are four traditional dialects of Breton which correspond to medieval bishoprics rather than to linguistic divisions. They are Leoneg in the county of Léon, Tregerieg in the county of Trégor, Kerneveg in Cornouaille, and Gwenedeg in Vannes. The dialects form a dialect continuum varying only slightly from one village to the next.


For most of its history there was considerable variation in the spelling of Breton. Then in 1908 the orthography of three Breton dialects, Kerneveg (Cornouaille), Leoneg (Leon) and Tregerieg (Tregor), was unified. The other dialect, Gwenedeg (Vannetais), was not included in this reform, but was included in the orthographic reform of 1941.

Current usage

Breton can be heard on a number of radio stations for a few hours a week and there is a weekly one-hour TV programme in Breton. There are also a number of Breton language weekly and monthly magazines.

Relationship to other languages

Breton is closely related to Cornish and less closely related to Welsh, though these languages are not mutually intelligible. Breton has also absorbed quite a lot of vocabulary from French, Latin, and probably from Gaulish languages, which are now extinct.

Breton is also distantly related to Irish, Manx and Scottish Gaelic.

A comparison of the six modern Celtic languages

Celtic cognates - words that are similar in the Celtic languages

Celtiadur - a dictionary of Celtic cognates

The Breton alphabet (lizherenneg ar brezhoneg)

A a B b Ch ch C'h c'h D d E e F f G g H h
a be che ec'h de e ef ge hach
I i J j K k L l M m N n O o P p R r
i je ke el em en o pe er
S s T t U u V v W w Y y Z z    
es te u ve we ye zed    


Breton pronunciation


Many letters have different pronunciations in different dialects of Breton. You can find out more on:

Mutations (Ar c'hemmadurioù)

Breton Mutations

* G disappears before w or ou, e.g. e wele (his bed), but e c'harzh (his garden).

Download an alphabet chart for Breton (Excel)

Sample text in Breton

Dieub ha par en o dellezegezh hag o gwirioù eo ganet an holl dud. Poell ha skiant zo dezho ha dleout a reont bevañ an eil gant egile en ur spered a genvreudeuriezh.


All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

Sample of videos in Breton

Information about Breton | Phrases | Numbers | Family words | Colours | Time | Weather words | Comparison of Celtic languages | Celtic cognates | Tower of Babel | Learning materials

Learn Breton

  • Price:
  • List Price:
  • You save:
In Stock.

Shipping time world-
wide is typically 6 days.

Add to cart Try it for free Good way to learn Breton


Information about Brittany and the Breton language

Online Breton lessons

More Breton links

Celtic languages

Breton, Celtiberian, Cornish, Cumbric, Gaulish, Irish, Lepontic, Lusitanian, Manx, Scottish Gaelic, Tartessian, Welsh

Other languages written with the Latin alphabet

If you need to type in many different languages, the Q International Keyboard can help. It enables you to type almost any language that uses the Latin, Cyrillic or Greek alphabets, and is free.

If you like this site and find it useful, you can support it by making a donation, or by contributing in other ways. Omniglot is how I make my living.

Note: all links on this site to Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.fr are affiliate links. This means I earn a commission if you click on any of them and buy something. So by clicking on these links you can help to support this site.