Batz-sur-Mer love poem
De seint abar er miroer
Echti me michteñ barhoneg
Kae kimat henen a ga ou-treo
Ma me "me de gar" deñueñ
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Brezhoneg Gwenrann language
The Breton spoken in Batz-sur-Mer (Brezhoneg Gwenrann, gwennraneg), in the north-west of Loire-Atlantique, is almost the last trace that we have of the Breton dialects of the Nantes region. If Gallo (Oil language) gradually pushed the Breton language towards the west, in the Middle Ages Breton was spoken in a number of municipalities of the Pays Nantais. In Batz-sur-Mer the language was maintained until the 19th century and the last speakers who have it as birth language, died recently!
In this territory of southern Brittany, Breton, an insular Celtic language which spread here at the turn of the 5th and 6th centuries, was, in the Middle Ages, in a singular linguistic situation. It was then in competition with languages of Romance origin, Gallo spoken in the countryside and French tinged with regionalisms and Bretonnisms spoken in the urban and military centers of Guérande, Roche-Bernard, Le Croisic and in the part of the parish of Assérac subject to the influence of the Templars and Hospitallers of Faugaret.
It remains that in the 16th century, the local elites, clerks of the royal and seigniorial administrations, merchant-mariners ... who use Breton as their daily and family language, are in fact very often polyglots. Needs and necessity of their activities oblige. In the second half of the 16th century, the geographical area of the practice of the Breton language tends to tighten more around the coastal bastions which will still remain theirs at the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries partly for commercial reasons: Piriac, La Turballe-Trescalan, Mesquer and Batz ...
In this geographic space, the inhabitants of the villages of Bourg-de-Batz, with a long-established and recognized identity, distinguished themselves by extending the use of Breton as a community and secret language until the 1910s. 20. The interest of having maintained the practice throughout the 18th and 19th centuries is of a strategic and economic nature.
Its learning and its transmission within the salt-producing villages made trade easier. The right to barter salt and onions was authorized for salt workers and salt workers in the Breton departments and especially in the Breton monolingual cantons of Côtes-d'Armor, Finistère and Morbihan, catchment areas frequented for generations by inhabitants of Batz for subsistence needs. In line with an equally secular tradition of salt production technology transfer to the country of Vannes, the salt workers of Batz also reserved the possibility of going to exploit the salt works of Morbihan and of becoming part of the host communities.
The Breton formerly spoken in Batz is linked to the Breton of Vannetais. It also has remarkable affinities with that of Goëlo used between Paimpol, Lanvollon and Plouha at the eastern limits of Trégor (Côtes-d'Armor), a variety of the same oriental dialect which was differentiated in medieval times under the influence of a strong Roman adstratum.
It is possible to judge this relationship by various printed documents and especially by handwritten sources compiled between 1870 and 1962 and fortunately preserved. Most of them have come down to us after a long documentary quest, a series of twists and turns which has been written over more than twenty years and remains to be completed. Throughout the modern era, due to geo-linguistic isolation, the advanced de-Bretonnization of the country of Guérande, the abandonment of Breton by the elites, and a non-consideration by the ecclesiastical authorities of the bishopric who did not cultivate it at the Nantes seminary nor had any specific devotional work printed, the local dialect borrowed from Gallo and French.
To these reasons, we should add those of an ancient trilingualism of the salt worker population and extensive schooling since the 17st century under the influence of the Catholic Counter-Reformation. The phonetic, lexical and syntactic peculiarities of Breton de Batz were such that, according to its speakers, intercomprehension had become almost impossible at the beginning of the 20th century with the neighbors of Belle-Île or the Rhuys peninsula who yet provided a large contingent of Breton emigrants throughout the 17th and 18th centuries in the country of Guérande.
The last speakers of Bourg-de-Batz who spoke more or less this "Breton Creole" in their childhood died out in the decades 1940-60 and at the end of the 20th century for people who had it. a fragmentary knowledge to have retained scraps from the ancients.
At the dawn of the 21st century, the memory of this brehoñneik and its practice has not been totally faded from our memories. What is more, on closer inspection, the popular language of the whole region, from Camoël to Batz, via Piriac, La Madeleine and Saint-Molf, conceals a good hundred Bretonnisms. Many moreover are in the process of becoming obsolete insofar as they relate to a register of actions or activities belonging to a rural world or to a bygone way of life. To this heritage which is in the process of being inventoried, we must add an infinitely longer list, requiring serious critical examination, of localities, inhabited or cultivated, foremost among which are those of the Guérande salt flats. (source: Expo 2006 "Gildas Buron - Musée des Marais Salants")
Short story of Brittany
Batz-sur-Mer is a commune of Loire-Atlantique, it was an island today attached to the coast just south of Guérande, and near St Nazaire. For centuries this country has drawn its riches from the sea, and in particular from the salt marshes, for the traditional harvest of a well known salt.