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Breton Grammar

Roparz Hemon

Third edition. Translated, adapted, and revised by Michael Everson. Cathair na Mart: Evertype, 2007. ISBN 978-1-904808-71-8.
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Breton Gammar


The first English-language edition of this Breton Grammar was published in 1995, and the second edition was published in 2007. The book is for the most part a straight forward translation of the ninth edition of Roparz Hemon’s Grammaire bretonne. In preparing the translation, a number of sections in the grammar were changed for the benefit of the English-speaking reader. Many, but not all, of these additions may be found in the notes to the various sections.

Some of these differences are terminological. For instance, the term “conjugated preposition” has been preferred to “prepositional pronoun” and “verbal noun” to “infinitive”. The verbal and prepositional para digms have been reorganized and altered to make them clearer; in the table following §186, for example, the delineation of the prepositional conjugations in Kervella (1976) has been followed.

More substantially, much of the section on the pronunciation of Breton, especially the phonology, has been revised in response to the needs of the English-speaking reader. In restructuring the detailed analysis of Breton phonology, particularly that of the vowel system, synthesis has been made of the best of Jackson (1967), Kervella (1976) Trépos (1980), Favereau (1992); Lagadeg and Menard (1995) has been indispensible. For the difficult question of the consonants, see the Note to §219. The International Phonetic Alphabet is used quite strictly throughout this book. As this is a teaching as well as a refer ence grammar, the spirit of Hemon’s remarks in §§206–09 has been followed in standardizing the description and transcrip tions. It is hoped that the reader first learning Breton will be served by such standardization in preparation for encountering real Breton dialects.

The reader is asked to note the use of -z'- in this book to indicate the orthographic -z- that is not pronounced in many areas (see §224), and to note that some Gwenedeg pronunciations are indicated (e.g. /gwiːr/~/jɥiːr/; see §208). A bibliography has been added at the end of the book.

Thanks are due to Ronan Huon for his permission to publish this work in 1995, and to Henry Leperlier and Jean-Michel Picard, for their assistance in its preparation. I am also indebted to Maurice Jouanno, who spent many hours with me discussing Breton dialects, and to Albert Bock, who provided some splendid notes as I was preparing the second edition. I am particularly grateful to Pêr Denez, and to my friend and colleague Nicholas Williams, both of whom read the whole manuscript and made many valuable suggestions.

Michael Everson
Westport 2011

Table of Contents

The Mutations
  • Defective mutations
  • Mutations in compound words
  • Special mutations
  • Obstacles to the mutations
The Article
  • Use of the definite article
  • The definite article before proper names
  • Use of the indefinite article
The Noun
  • Gender
  • Singular and plural
  • Collective and singulative
  • The dual
  • Double plurals
  • The genitive
The Personal Pronoun
  • Use of the personal pronoun
The Qualifying Adjective
  • Degrees of comparison
  • The exclamative
  • The diminutive
  • Use of the qualifying adjective
The Possessive
The Demonstrative
The Interrogative
The Exclamative
The Indefinite
  • Some
  • All
  • None
  • Other
  • Same
  • Such
  • One
The Numerals
  • Cardinal and ordinal numerals
  • Other numerals
The Verb
  • Conjugation
  • A regular verb: Skrivañ
  • Irregular verbs: Bez’añ, Endevout, Gouzout, Mont, Ober
  • The verbal noun
  • The present participle
  • The compound tenses and auxiliaries
  • The habitual tenses
  • The locative tenses
  • The conditional
  • The subjunctive
  • Remarks on the irregular verbs
  • The passive
  • The impersonal
  • Anomalies
  • The reflexive verb
  • The verb and its subject
  • The verbal particles
  • Negation
The Adverb
The Preposition
  • Table of the prepositions
The Conjunction
  • Word order
  • Interrogation
  • The relative
The Pronunciation of Breton
Graphic representation
  • Quantity
  • Quality
  • Nasal vowels
From spelling to pronunciation
  • Modification of sounds
  • Loss of sounds
Stress accent
  • Stress in the isolated word
  • Stress in hyphenated words
  • Phrase stress
  • Sentence stress

HTML Michael Everson, Evertype, Cnoc Sceichín, Leac an Anfa, Cathair na Mart, Co. Mhaigh Eo, Éire, 2011-04-04

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