No virulent activism among this couple from Plougonven but a heartfelt attachment to the local culture. Frédéric and Aline Doyen are in their forties and three children who are all learning Breton. “Their school in Morlaix offered a bilingual program and we said to ourselves that we had to try, that if we didn’t do it, our children would never hear Breton spoken”, explains Aline Doyen.
Both from Finistère, they never learned Breton as children. During the 20th century, the French state formally prohibited the use of Breton in schools. “Our parents know the patois of their area of origin but did not teach it to us because they were severely punished at school when they spoke it,” says Frédéric Doyen. “My father and his brothers and sisters speak Breton among themselves but not me,” he adds.
“We tried with our eldest, it went well and then the others followed,” says Aline Doyen, and they speak Breton to each other. Sometimes we don’t understand ”. Few people of Frédéric and Aline’s age know Breton. A generation sacrificed? “We must not exaggerate, moderates Frédéric. It’s more of a cultural attachment so that the children know where they come from, we don’t speak Breton at home ”. A distinction that does not pose a problem for children. “It stays in class, moreover they try to make them speak Breton in the courtyard but that does not take at all, observes Aline Doyen. It stays in class or at home when they don’t want us to understand ”.
Aftercare training for parents
And if we do not speak Breton at the Doyen, Aline has all the same taken training to get up to date. Her level does not allow her to provide history and geography lessons in Breton at home in the event of confinement – “too many stories and everything is in Breton” – but she can provide math and science lessons or certain exercises. translation: “The lessons are in Breton but the exercises are in French”. And if sometimes this mother feels stuck, she doesn’t hesitate to make a call to a bilingual friend.
Géraldine Berry grew up in Brittany but without learning the historical language. She wanted her three children to benefit from bilingual training. “Once they were launched, I got started,” explains this Lorient, “I took six months of intensive Diwan courses and I was up to speed”. Schooled in 2003 in the bilingual public sector in Lanester (56), his eldest son himself expressed the wish to integrate Diwan from the age of nine. “He found that it was not enough, so he agreed to be a boarder twice a week, then at the high school with full board in Carhaix”.
Participate in the life of the territory
Very attached to languages in a personal capacity, Géraldine Berry believes that culture passes through language but avoids any chauvinism. “We do not listen to Breton music and we do not cultivate the Celtic spirit, she assures, but I wanted the children to have real roots and a better understanding of their origins, that they participate fully in the life of the territory ”. Going from the smallest to the universal, this is the motto of the Berry family, who travel a lot. “We traveled the world for seven months with our three children. We awaken them to other cultures while being attached to local specificities. We met a lot of Bretons during this trip and there were always a few words, if only kenavo, to show their identity ”.
Oral tradition and contemporary Breton
If learning the Breton language should in theory allow children to interact with their grandparents, the reality is not so simple. “My father speaks a Finistère dialect that our children do not understand,” emphasizes Frédéric Doyen. They learn a more academic Breton which goes through the written word and not only through the oral tradition ”. A phenomenon that Geraldine Berry deplores: “With us, the grandparents have stopped talking about it. They use a few words that they remember but don’t make any effort, it’s a shame ”.
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