Request for variant subtag fr 16th-c 17th-c Resubmitted!

CE Whitehead cewcathar at
Mon Jan 22 19:56:11 CET 2007

>Perhaps there are different Breton dialects of French (just as there  are 
>different Irish dialects of English), but Breton is a distinct  language in 
>and of itself (which is very distantly related to Irish  and totally 
>different from French).
>Hope this helps,

Hi, Marion; obviously I know almost zilch about Breton;
I assume it will be classified by most linguists with Celtic languages but
I do know one phrase I learned years ago as Breton (is it?) and suspect it 
may have elements of other languages in it:

"Ein war un peskateur koz"
"There once was an old fisherman"

I do not know Irish of course but . . .

war is like German for "was"
"un peskateur" is like the French phrase "un pecheur," 'a fisherman'

"koz" I know used to mean in some English dialects "old"  ("old cozy" I 
think comes from this idea??? don't have the details though)

(I'm pretty sure that the above phrase is Breton itself and not a Breton 
dialect of French though you are right, when you get out of Paris into the 
countryside, you get variation in the way French is spoken, at least you did 
in the 70's.)

This is clearly not the place for me to go on a diatribe about the language 
families and I certainly do not want to classify Breton as other than Celtic 
(certain words, though, I think for example, "alba" are related in Romance 
and Celtic), but I do tend to abhor the linguists' classification scheme of 
various languages in General; for example; I do not agree that Farsi/Persian 
is really Indo-European; so much of it is related to languages in the 
'Altaic' group.
(incidentally, "mina," 'I' in Finnish, is related to "man," 'I' in Persian; 
so I'm not sure that even the English words "my/mine" is particularly 

For me the lines in a George Starbuck poem sum up about everything about 
language and ethnic classification schemes:

"homogeneity, manageability,
Aristotelian wind in the reeds."

Don't want to 'open up a can of worms' (an American expression; not sure if 
it makes sense; a 'Pandora's box' maybe) here;
but even with Breton snugly in the Celtic family, we still have 
Occitan/Provencal in the South and the grammar in these is so clearly Old 
French but then other elements are closer to say Catalan so which group it 
goes with is a tough call.
But I do hope that someday we can get some more macro-languages, including a 
French one, even with the problems that more sub-languages and more 
classification entail.  But I'd never try to argue that the French language 
in some form was somehow the parent language for the various sub-languages, 
for that's ridiculous; Occitan might just as well be the parent language; I 
doubt there is a neat lineage.  By having a French macro language and then a 
bunch of sub-languages you are just saying that these all have a large 
number of French elements in common I think.

Hope this makes sense.

--C. E. Whitehead
cewcathar at

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