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|Native speakers||28,000 (date missing)|
The historical Gallo language area of Upper Brittany
Gallo was originally spoken in the Marches of Neustria, which now corresponds to the border lands of Brittany and Normandy and its former heart in Le Mans, Maine. Gallo was the shared spoken language of the leaders of the Norman conquest of England, most of whom originated in Upper Brittany and Lower Normandy. Thus Gallo was a vehicle for the subsequent transformation ("Gallicisation") of English.
Gallo continued as the language of Upper Brittany and some neighbouring portions of Normandy until the introduction of universal education across France, but today Gallo is spoken by only a small minority of the population, having been largely superseded by standard French.
As an Oïl language, Gallo forms part of a dialect continuum which includes Norman, Picard and Poitevin, among others. One of the features that distinguishes it from Norman is the absence of Norse influence. There is some limited intercomprehension with adjacent varieties of the Norman language along the linguistic frontier and with Dgèrnésiais and Jèrriais. However, as the dialect continuum shades towards Mayennais, there is a less clear isogloss. The clearest isogloss is that distinguishing Gallo from Breton, a Celtic language traditionally spoken in the western territory of Brittany.
In the west, the vocabulary of Gallo has been influenced by contact with Breton, but remains overwhelmingly Latinate. The influence of Breton decreases eastwards across Gallo-speaking territory.
As of 1980[update], Gallo's western extent stretches from Plouha (Plóha), in Côtes-d'Armor, south of Paimpol (Paimpol), passing through Châtelaudren (Châtié), Corlay (Corlaè), Loudéac (Loudia), Pontivy (Pontivy), Locminé (Lominoec), Vannes (Vannes) and ending in the south on the Rhuys peninsula, in Morbihan.
One of the metro stations of the Breton capital, Rennes, has bilingual signage in French and Gallo, but generally the Gallo language is not as visibly high-profile as the Breton language, even in its traditional heartland of the Pays Gallo, which includes the two historical capitals of Rennes (Gallo Resnn, Breton Roazhon) and Nantes (Gallo Nauntt, Breton Naoned).
Different dialects of Gallo are distinguished, although there is a movement for standardisation on the model of the dialect of Upper Brittany.
Although a written literary tradition exists, Gallo is more noted for extemporised story-telling and theatrical presentations. Given Brittany's rich musical heritage, contemporary performers produce a range of music sung in Gallo (see Music of Brittany).
The roots of written Gallo literature are traced back to Le Livre des Manières written in 1178 by Etienne de Fougères, a poetical text of 336 quatrains and the earliest known Romance text from Brittany, and to Le Roman d'Aquin, an anonymous 12th century chanson de geste transcribed in the 15th century but which nevertheless retains features typical of the mediaeval Romance of Brittany. In the 19th century oral literature was collected by researchers and folklorists such as Paul Sébillot, Adolphe Orain, Amand Dagnet and Georges Dottin. Amand Dagnet (1857-1933) also wrote a number of original works in Gallo, including a play La fille de la Brunelas (1901).
It was in the 1960s that a concerted effort to stimulate Gallo literature started. In 1979 Alan J. Raude published a proposed standardised orthography for Gallo.
|afternoon||vêpré||après-midi (archaic: vêprée)|
|to fall||cheir||tomber (archaic: choir)|
|goat||biq||chèvre (slang: bique)|
|house||ostèu||maison (archaic: hostel)|
|lip||lip||lèvre (or "lippe")|
|mouth||góll||bouche (gueule = jaw)|
|now||astour||maintenant (à cette heure)|
|squirrel||chat-de-boéz (lit. "woods cat")||écureuil|
|to smoke||betunae||fumer (archaic: pétuner)|
|today||anoet||aujourd'hui (archaic: hui)|
|with||ô or côteu avek||avec|
- Of Pipers and Wrens (1997). Produced and directed by Gei Zantzinger, in collaboration with Dastum. Lois V. Kuter, ethnomusicological consultant. Devault, Pennsylvania: Constant Spring Productions.
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