Tour de la Francophonie: La Bretagne

Revival of the

Breton Language

with Prof. Gildas Hamel, UCSC

In English
Wednesday 11 November

Join Prof. Gildas Hamel for a Zoom presentation in English about the struggle of Breton language throughout the ages up to the 21st century.

Brittany is the westernmost region of France, covering the western part of what was known as Armorica during the period of Roman occupation. Armorica was part of Gaulle, inhabited by Celtic people. Bretagne became an independent kingdom in 849, then a duchy, before being united with the Kingdom of France in 1532 as a province governed as a separate nation under the crown.


The Bretons have their own Celtic language, closely related to Welsh and Cornish, and more distantly related to Irish and Scottish Gaelic. Breton is currently the only Celtic language on the European continent. But being incorporated in the very centralized French Republic has gradually reduced the use of the Breton language.


The actual decline of the Breton language started after WW1, and was seriously accentuated after WW2.  In recent years, Breton has made strides to reconstitute its status, in a similar way to Irish Gaelic and Welsh. One of the reasons for this revival is the strong feeling of belonging to a thousand-year-old culture that motivates Bretons to fight to keep their identity.


Through his own experience as enfant du pays breton, Gildas Hamel will tell us the history of his language, which is alive, but still fragile.

This event is free for all

Sign up below.

The Zoom link will be emailed the day prior to the event

Gildas Hamel comes from a small Breton-speaking village in Brittany, France.  He  went to primary school there, then to a seminary high school, and a grand-seminary.


Hamel taught high school kids in Jerusalem in 1966-68 while attending courses at the École Biblique.  East Jerusalem was in Jordan at the time, then in Israel. So, the twenty-some he was then began to learn about modern politics and how ancient it can be.


Circumstances - a very long word for love - brought him to California in 1973.  Hamel became an instructor in French at UCSC and received a Ph.D. in History of Consciousness as he continued to teach French, classical languages and history. He retired in 2013 as a senior lecturer emeritus in history, in order to do research full time.