Gallo language

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Native toFrance
RegionUpper Brittany
Native speakers
191,000 (2012)[1]
Early forms
Official status
Recognised minority
language in
Language codes
ISO 639-3
The historical Gallo language area of Upper Brittany
Gallo is classified as Severely Endangered by the UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger[3]

Gallo is a regional language of eastern Brittany. It is one of the langues d'oïl, a Romance sub-family that includes French. Today it is spoken only by a minority of the population, as the standard form of French now predominates in this area.

Gallo was originally spoken in the Marches of Neustria, an area now corresponding to the border lands between Brittany, Normandy, and Maine. Gallo was a shared spoken language among many of those who took part in the Norman conquest of England, most of whom originated in Upper (i.e. eastern) Brittany and Lower (i.e. western) Normandy, and thus had its part, together with the much bigger role played by the Norman language, in the development of the Anglo-Norman variety of French which would have such a strong influence on English.

Gallo continued as the everyday language of Upper Brittany, Maine, and some neighbouring portions of Normandy until the introduction of universal education across France, but is spoken today by only a small (and aging) minority of the population, having been almost entirely superseded by standard French.

As a langue d'oïl, Gallo forms part of a dialect continuum which includes Norman, Picard, and the Poitevin dialect among others. One of the features that distinguish it from Norman is the absence of Old Norse influence. There is some limited mutual intelligibility with adjacent varieties of the Norman language along the linguistic frontier and with Guernésiais and Jèrriais. However, as the dialect continuum shades towards Mayennais, there is a less clear isogloss. The clearest linguistic border is that distinguishing Gallo from Breton, a Brittonic 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, Gallo's western extent stretches from Plouha (Plóha), in Côtes-d'Armor, south of Paimpol, passing through Châtelaudren (Châtié), Corlay (Corlaè), Loudéac (Loudia), east of Pontivy, Locminé (Lominoec), Vannes, and ending in the south, east of the Rhuys peninsula, in Morbihan.


While most often spelled Gallo, the name of the language is sometimes written as Galo or Gallot.[4] It is also referred to as langue gallèse or britto-roman in Brittany.[4] In south Lower Normandy and in the west of Pays de la Loire it is often referred to as patois,[5] though this is a matter of some contention.[6] Gallo comes from the Breton word gall, meaning 'foreigner', 'French' or 'non-Breton'.[4][7] The term was first used by Breton speakers, which may explain why it is used rarely by Gallo speakers themselves. Henriette Walter conducted a survey in 1986 which showed that just over 4% of Gallo speakers in Côtes-d'Armor had ever used the term, and a third of them found it "had quite a pejorative connotation". According to the survey, the term patois was the most common way of referring to the language.[8]

The term britto-roman was coined by the linguist Alan-Joseph Raude in 1978 to highlight the fact that Gallo is "a Romance variety spoken by Bretons".[6] Gallo should not be confused with Gallo-Roman, a term that refers to the Romance varieties of ancient Gaul.

Linguistic classification[edit]

Gallo is one of the langues d'oïl, a dialect continuum covering the northern half of France. This group includes a wide variety of more or less well-defined and differentiated languages and dialects, which share a Latin origin and some Germanic influence from Frankish, the language spoken by the Franks.[9]

Gallo, like the other langues d'oïl, is neither ancient French nor a distortion of modern French.[10] The langues d'oïl are Gallo-Romance languages, which also includes Franco-Provençal, spoken around Savoy. These are in turn Romance languages, a group which also includes, among others, Catalan, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Romanian.

Gallo has not just borrowed words from Breton, but also aspects of grammar; the use of the preposition pour as an auxiliary verb is said to be of Celtic origin. The relationship between the two is comparable to that of the two languages of Scotland: Scots, an Anglic language closely related to English, and Scottish Gaelic, a Celtic language descended from Old Irish.[11]

Gallo is typically not mutually intelligible with French, primarily due to its differing phonology and vocabulary. This is in spite of what Paul Sébillot wrote in 1878: "[Gallo] is a dialect of French (...): it contains a considerable quantity of old words, a very small amount of words borrowed from Breton, and is, except for several local expressions (...) very easy to understand."[12] The study of language has evolved considerably since the 19th century, however, and there is no longer any universally accepted criterion to distinguish decisively between language and dialect.

Celtic, Latin and Germanic roots[edit]

The Celts settled in Armorica toward the 8th century BCE. Some of early groups mentioned in the written records of the Greeks were the Redones and the Namnetes. They spoke dialects of the Gaulish language[13] and maintained important economic ties with the British Isles.[14] Julius Caesar's invasion of Armorica in 56 BC led to a sort of Romanization of the population.[15] Gaulish continued to be spoken in this region until the 6th century CE,[16] especially in less populated, rural areas. When the Bretons emigrated to Armorica around this time, they found a people who had retained their Celtic language and culture.[17] The Bretons were therefore able to integrate easily.

In contrast to Armorica's western countryside, Nantes and Rennes were Roman cultural centres. Following the Migration Period,[14] these two cities, as well as regions to the east of the Vilaine, including the town Vannes,[18] fell under Frankish rule.[14] Thus, during the Merovingian dynasty, the population of Armorica was diverse, consisting of Gaulish tribes with assimilated Bretons, as well as Romanized cities and Germanic tribes.[19] War between the Frank and Breton kingdoms was constant between the 6th and 9th centuries,[14] which made the border between the two difficult to define. Before the 10th century, Breton was spoken by at least one third of the population[20] up to the cities of Pornic and Avranches.

Decline of Gallo[edit]

Historically, France has been a nation with a high degree of linguistic diversity matched with relative tolerance, that is until the French Revolution.[21] Gallo's status as a tolerated regional language of France suffered as a direct consequence of the Revolution. During this time, the Jacobins viewed regional languages as a way in which the structural inequalities of France were perpetuated.[21] Accordingly, they sought to eradicate the regional languages to free their speakers of unconstitutional inequalities.

Under the Third Republic, public education became universal and mandatory in France, and was conducted exclusively in French; students who spoke other languages were punished. Well into the 20th century, government policy focused exclusively on French. In 1962, Charles de Gaulle established the Haut Comité pour la défense et l'expansion de la langue française; this committee's purpose was to enforce the use of French, to the detriment of minority languages.[22] Furthermore, in 1994, the Loi Toubon declared that any governmental publications and advertisements must be in French.[22] Gallo did not gain national recognition until the Constitution of France was amended in 2008. Article 75-1 asserts that "regional languages are part of the French heritage". Moreover, Gallo is the only langue d'oïl to be recognized as a regional language by the French Ministry of Education. Nevertheless, like all of the other regional languages of France, the use of Gallo has declined since the 19th century.

Similar to speakers of other regional languages, Gallo speakers began to associate French as the language of intellectuals and social promotion, and Gallo as an impediment to their success.[23] As a result, the rate of children learning the language has diminished, since parents struggle to see the benefit of Gallo in their children's future.

Gallo and education[edit]

Within recent history, the presence of Gallo has fluctuated in Brittany's school system. Shortly before World War II, the Regional Federation of Bretagne introduced the idea of rejuvenating Gallo's presences in schools.[24] They were primarily motivated in increasing the linguistic competence of children.[24]

In 1982, Gallo was officially adopted as an optional subject in secondary schools in Brittany, even appearing on France's secondary school-exit exam, the Baccalaureat.[24] It took years for the Gallo language to actually be incorporated into the curriculum, but by the 1990s, the main focus of the curriculum was cultural awareness of the Gallo language and identity.[24] However, in 2002, Gallo's optional-subject status in secondary schools was withdrawn.[24]

In reaction to the 2002 decision, an effective and committed network of Gallo activists advanced Gallo's status in Brittany schools.[25] Gallo is now taught in Upper Brittany's state schools, though the number of students enrolled in Gallo courses remains low. In the 2003-04 academic year, there were 569 students learning Gallo at secondary school or university.[25] For comparison, in the same year, 3,791 students were learning Breton at the same levels of schooling.[25]


The town of Loudéac displays its Gallo name, Loudia, on signage

On December 17, 2004, the Regional Council of Brittany officially recognized Breton and Gallo as "the official languages of Brittany, alongside the French language."

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.

It is difficult to record the exact number of Gallo speakers today. Gallo and vernacular French share a sort of continuum, so speakers may have difficulty determining exactly which language they are speaking.[21] Many people speak Gallo while using a considerable amount of French words and phrases, thus confounding the language question further. Moreover, Gallo speakers may have a tendency to underestimate their competence and choose thus to not report speaking it. This makes estimates of the number of speakers vary widely.[21]


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 Étienne 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.

Gallo is a language of oral tradition, whose history is rich with stories, fables, and legends. Gallese legends frequently address recurring characters, such as Gargantua and Morgan le Fay, or questions of how the countryside was created. In the 19th century, oral literature was collected by researchers and folklorists such as Paul Sébillot, Adolphe Orain, Amand Dagnet and Georges Dottin. However, these authors frequently rewrote this literature in French. Paul Féval wrote certain dialogues in Gallo in his novel Châteaupauvre (1876). Amand Dagnet (1857-1933) also wrote a number of original works in Gallo, including a play La fille de la Brunelas (1901).[26] In the 1920's, Jeanne Malivel wrote Les Sept Frères, a story which was inspired by her grand-mother and was written in Gallo. This, in part, inspired the creation of the artistic movement Seiz Breur.

It was in the 1970s that a concerted effort to promote Gallo literature started. In 1979 Alan J. Raude published a proposed standardised orthography for Gallo.[27]



The consonants in Gallo are almost the same as in French, but there are many local variants, such as the voicing of [s] into [z] in Pays de Retz and that of [t] into [d] in Pays de la Mée. Certain consonant combinations are also characteristic of certain regions, such as the plosives [c] and [ɟ], which can be compared to [k] or [g] followed by a light [j] sound. The affricates [] and [] appear in the western part of Haute-Bretagne, where, for example, the word curë [kyʁe] is pronounced as [tʃyʁə], and the word ghepe as [dʒep]. Elsewhere, [cyʁə] and [ɟəp] can be heard. Qhi, meanwhile, can be pronounced [ki], [tʃi] or [ci]. These modifications result from an advancement of the place of articulation of the palatal consonants. The semi-consonant [j] is used extensively to palatalize other consonants, notably [fj], [tj], [sj] and [pj]. However, this is not done in all regions, and [j] is often replaced by [l]. The word pllée, for example, can be pronounced [pje] or [ple].[6]

Germanic in origin, [h] generally hasn’t been pronounced since the 13th century, but it is still used in Mené, a small region around Merdrignac and Plémet.[28]

Labial Dental/Alveolar Palatal Velar/Uvular Glottal
Nasal m ɲ
Plosive voiceless p c k
voiced b ɟ g
Fricative voiceless f s ʃ h
voiced v z ʒ ʁ
Approximant plain l j
labial ɥ w


The vowel system of Gallo is close to French, but they diverged as they evolved, and Gallo has a number of phenomena not found in French, such as the pervasive use of schwa and diphthongs.

In Gallo, as in French, the [a] of Latin in stressed syllables has evolved into [e] or []. Thus, adsátis became assé [ase]. However, while French has combined [e] and [eː] into just [e], a distinction was preserved in Gallo. The [eː], manifests, for example, when [a] was followed by [s], became either an [e] or a diphthong, most often [ej]. The [e] became a schwa ([ə]) in most regions. This distinction between [e] and [eː] makes it possible to differentiate past participles by gender and number. While in standard French, chassé, chassée, and chassés are all pronounced the same, most Gallo speakers make a phonemic distinction between the masculine chassé [ʃasə] and the feminine chassée or plural chassés [ʃase]. In this example, the pronunciation of é was changed when the silent feminine or plural endings were added to the word.[29]

Latin verbs with infinitives ending in -are followed the same evolutionary pattern as in French. Captiáre became chasser [ʃasə] in Gallo and chasser [ʃase] in French. This evolution of the [a] in stressed syllables varies from region to region. While in central Upper Brittany, schwa has replaced [e]. In some outlying regions, it is replaced by [ɛ] or remains [e]. Some words do not obey the rule, such as pátre and mátre, which have become pere [peʁ] and mere [meʁ] in practically all of Upper Brittany, while [pəʁ] and [məʁ] are only heard in the center-west. The [a] in open stressed syllables before [l] doesn't follow the [e]/[eː] pattern either, and has evolved very differently in different regions. Sále has thus become sèl, sél, or seu.[29] Schwa is also used to make a syllabic [l] and [ʁ], as in berton [bʁˌtɔ̃].[30]

Like all langues d'oïl, Gallo underwent the vowel shift known as Bartsch's law, according to which the Latin [a] in open stressed syllables, when preceded by a palatal consonant, became ie, as in cápra, which became chieuvr. As in French, the sound [j] represented by the letter i disappeared around the Renaissance, giving chèvre and cheuv, though this sound can still be observed in Côtes-d'Armor. In eastern Brittany, the disappearance of the sound was even more dramatic than in French, and some speakers say chen (horse), while the French word remains chien (from Latin cáne).[29]

The Latin [e] in open stressed syllables has also evolved into ie in both Gallo and French, with hĕri becoming yere, for example. In Gallo, the vowel following the y differs from region to region. In most of Upper Brittany, it's a schwa, and elsewhere it's a [ɛ] or an [e] (the geographical distribution is the same as for [e]/[eː]). The Latin [o] in open stressed syllables became a ue, then monophthonged in both French and Gallo around the 12th century, becoming [œ] in French, [ə] in Gallo. Cór thus became qheur. The evolution of the Latin [e] in closed stressed syllables is much more diverse, and the original diphthong éi has been replaced by a large number of phonemes varying from word to word and region to region. The many pronunciations of mai, from the Latin , illustrate this diversity: [maj], [ma], [me], [mɛ], etc. The pronunciation of Latin [o]/[u] in closed stressed syllables is more authentic in Gallo than in other langues d’oïl. Gùla, for example, is pronounced [gul] in Gallo, but [gœl] in French. Some terms, however, are influenced by neighboring langues d'oïl, and astour [astuʁ] ("now", from Latin hóra) is becoming [astœʁ] in eastern Upper Brittany. In the south of Loire-Atlantique, thanks to contact with Poitevin, [ɔ] is common, and guernol [gɛʁnɔl] and parto [paʁtɔ] are heard instead of guernouille [gɛʁnuj] and partout [paʁtu].[29]

Front Central Back
unrounded rounded
Close i y u
Close-mid e ø o
Mid ə
Open-mid ɛ ɛː ɛ̃ œ œ̃ ɔ ɔ̃
Open a ɑ ɑ̃


Gallo has diphthongs, just like Latin itself, other langues d’oïl, and other Romance languages. Diphthongs in Gallo generally use the semi-vowels [w] and [j], more rarely [ɥ]: [wa], [wə], [wi], [aw], [ja], [ju], [aj], [ej], [ɛ̃i], [ɥi], [ɥɛ̃], [ɥə], etc.[6] The triphthong [jaw] is also used.[31]

The very common diphthong [aw] most often is the result of the disappearance of a consonant that existed in Latin. For example, fagu ("beech") became fao, and what once was two consecutive, separately pronounced vowels, [fau], has become a diphthong: [faw]. In some words, such as talpa, the [l] became a vowel, [u], and then [w], so [al] thus became [aw]: [tawp], while in French, the [al] merged into [o]: taupe [top]. In northern Upper Brittany, diphthongs are used to express plurals: un martè [maʁtə], des martiaos [maʁtjaw]. In Loire-Atlantique, only the plural form is used.[6]

The nasal diphthong [ɛ̃ɔ̃], heard for example in grand ([gʁɛ̃ɔ̃] "great") is typical of western langues d’oïl and is also found in Norman, Poitevin-Saintongeais and Angevin, sometimes in slightly different forms ([aɔ̃] in Saintongeais, [ɛ̃ɑ̃] in Norman).[32]



There is not yet a single writing system that is unanimously agreed upon, mainly due to regional pronunciation differences. The word for “me” could be pronounced any of the following ways: [maj], [mεj], [mej], [ma], [mε] or [me]. This large variance makes it difficult to pick a single written form that would be most suitable. If the orthography of French was used, the word could be written in countless ways: maï, maye, maille, mèï, mey, meille, ma, mé, mè, etc.

However, the creation of a common writing system is important for ensuring comprehensibility of text across regions and making a dictionary. There are two main strategies that have been employed in past attempts at a writing system. One strategy proposes a single written form for words that will be pronounced differently according to the region. The other strategy proposes allowing a word to be written in multiple different ways, with different letters or letter combinations, to allow for speakers of Gallo to write according to their pronunciation. Another difference separating the proposed systems is their usage of silent letters and non-phonetic spelling. Some systems try to maintain a one-to-one correspondency between letters and sounds, whereas some choose to add silent letters or diagraphs in an attempt to better represent the sounds of Gallo.[33][34]

The first effort to codify Gallo spelling was undertaken by the Friends of the Gallo Language (Association des Amis du parler gallo) in 1977. It proposed using French spelling as a baseline and adjusting it to fit Gallo’s unique phonetic features, such as using lh to indicate palatalization and ë to represent schwa. Since then, other systems have emerged, such as ELG, MOGA, ABCD, and BAP.

Comparison of various writing systems using an example sentence:[31]
ELG Aneit Vantyé MOGA ABCD French translation English translation
Il faut qe j'auj le veir anoet. I faùt qe j'aùge le vair aneit. I faw ke j'awj le vèy ane. I fao qe j'aoje le vaer aneit. Faot qe j'aoje le vaer anet. Il faut que j'aille le voir aujourd'hui. I have to go see him today.


The ELG system (short for "écrire le gallo", French for “write the Gallo [language]”), the oldest system, was proposed in 1978 by Alan-Joseph Raude and completely eschews French orthography. Raude based his writing system on medieval texts written in Gallo, therefore creating a system authentic to the language without reference to other modern writing systems. Regional differences were less pronounced during the Medieval era, meaning ELG’s spelling choices are based on a more standardized form.[6]

A Gallo sign in the Rennes metro

In the words for finger, evening, and me (in French: doigt, soir, moi), which display regional pronunciation differences, the “oi” found in French is written as “ei”, giving the forms: deit, seir, mei, though [ei] will not be the pronunciation everywhere.[6]

Ruczèu ("stream", in French: ruisseau) is pronounced [ʁysəw] in eastern Upper Brittany and [ʁyzəw] in the west. The ae in Bertaeyn ("Brittany"), can be pronounced [ae], [aɛ], [aə], or other possibilities. The diagraphs oe, cz, and tz are notable distinguishing elements of ELG.[35]

Word-final e ceased to be pronounced as early as the twelfth century in Gallo, several centuries before French, so Raude proposes to not write them. On the other hand, word-final silent consonants are retained to preserve the continuity between derived forms: fauc (false) (the final c is not pronounced) is related to fauchae (to mow), where the consonant is pronounced. In French, word-final e often serves to indicate an otherwise silent consonant should be pronounced, such as in grand [grɑ̃] and grande [grɑ̃d]. ELG indicates this with a doubled consonant: graund and graundd.[6]

ELG’s choices create a visually distinct system for Gallo, but it requires learning and is not immediately intuitive for Gallo speakers, who may not even recognize it as Gallo upon first seeing it.[35]

ELG is used in some public places, such as for bilingual signage in the Rennes metro system.[36]


Bilingual signage in the Rennes metro

The Aneit system was introduced in 1984 by the Bertègn Galèzz Association, successor to the organization Friends of the Gallo Language. The system is the result of five years' research throughout Upper Brittany, and takes its name from the brochure presenting it to the public: Nostre lenghe aneit ("our language today"). Also called "unified spelling", it follows in the footsteps of ELG in terms of its basis on etymology for its spelling.

The Aneit system differs from ELG on a number of points, however. For example, every letter must have a purpose, which means that the silent h and double consonants are eliminated, except in certain specific cases (ll to indicate palatalization, etc.).[6] Aneit has the same difficulties as ELG, since a speaker with a different pronunciation needs to know the standardized spelling to be able to decipher the written system. Another problem faced by Aneit is its use of diacritics not easily accessible on a French keyboard (ó, ú and r̃).[33]


The Vantyé spelling system was developed again by the Bertègn Galèzz association in the early 1980s, and is notable for its attempt to be closer to Breton. The letters k and w are not native to French, which prefers q and o plus a vowel to represent [k] and [w], respectively. Breton, however, uses k and w regularly, so the Vantyé system does as well. For example, ke ("that') and wézyaw ("bird"), compared to the French que and oiseau. Silent letters are also avoided in the Vantyé system.[6]

Unlike ELG and Aneit, Vantyé is more of a practical tool than a codified orthography, and is therefore much easier to master. However, it was primarily designed for speakers in the Mitau region, and does not account for the phonemes that exist in other regions, making it less useful as a universal standard.[37][33]


The MOGA system was introduced in 2007 by Bèrtran Ôbrée and the Chubri Association. Unlike ELG and Aneit, which are based on etymology, it is a phonetic script. It is also intentionally close to French, making it easier for speakers of French to learn. For example, [ɲ] is written with the French diagraph gn instead of less familiar propositions from previous systems such as ny or nh. Similarly, the diphthong [aw] is written ao, instead of the and au of previous systems, which could create confusion, because au is a diagraph in French corresponding to a single vowel, [o]. Each MOGA letter or diagraph corresponds to a single sound.

Regional varieties are taken into account, and letter combinations are used to represent all Gallo phonemes, even if they are only used by a few speakers. The diagraph lh signifies [ʎ], a rare phoneme that is confined to central Côtes-d'Armor.[38]

The same word can be written in different ways according to local usage, such as the city of Rennes, which could be written Renn, Rènn, Rein-n or Rin-n.[39] There is therefore not one MOGA spelling, but many MOGA spellings.


The ABCD system (from the initials of its inventors: Régis Auffray, André Bienvenu, André Le Coq, and Patrice Dréano) is used by the Association of Gallo Teachers and also the University of Rennes. It was created in 2009 and preserves the main principles of MOGA: similarity to French and phonetic spelling. Whereas MOGA allows only one sound per letter or group of letters, ABCD allows several, enabling users to make a choice. This covers regional variants, and a text in ABCD will not be read in the same way by all Gallo speakers. ABCD also mirrors the French trait of silent letters, such as the plural s, and is therefore easier to read without prior learning.[34]

Spelling equivalencies between ELG, MOGA and ABCD[edit]


Most consonants are written identically between the variants, and also the same as in French, and are not included in the table. As the pronunciation of ELG and ABCD letters varies greatly from region to region, this list is not exhaustive.

[a] a
[ɑ] a / au (word-final) â â / ae
[ɑ̃] aen / an / with labiovelarization: aun aun (long) / en (short) am / an / en / em
[ə] ae / aé / aeu / aéy / ei / oe e e / ë
[ɛ] aè / ei / èu / ey (word-final) è / e (word-final as a supporting vowel) e / è / ae / ai / aï
[e] aé / ey (word-final) é / e (word-final as a supporting vowel) e / é / ë
[eː] aé / ey (word-final) ée é
[ɛ̃] aen / en /

with labiovelarization: aeun / aun / ein

ein (long) / in (short) /

iñ (word-final short) / èn (short after i)

aen / aim / ain / eim / ein
[œ] oe / oey eu
[ø] oe / oey eû / eu
[i] iy (long) / i (short) / iu î (long) / i (short) i
[ɔ] o o o
[o] o ô
[ɔ̃] on on om / on
[u] ó / ou ou ou / oû
[y] aü / eü / iu / uy (word-final) û (long) / u (short) û / u
[œ̃] un ûn um / un / eum / eun
[aj] aè / àè /aéy / ai ae / aï
[ɑj] ei âï ây
[aw] au ao
[ɛj] aè / ei èï ae / aï / é
[ɛw] èu éw iao / éou
[əɥ] aeü
[ɔj] oy oy
[ɔw] ou ow ao
[ ʃ ] ch
[ ʒ] j
[k] c / q c before a, â, o and ô, otherwise: q
[tʃ ]


q qh q before a, â, o and ô, otherwise: qh

[ ɟ]

g gh

Additionally, MOGA and ABCD use the diagraph ll in words palatalized by certain Gallo speakers. Thus, bllë is pronounced [bjə] or [blə] depending on the region.

In ABCD, the combinations mm, nm and nn work differently than in French. When two nasal consonants are written in ABCD, the first consonant nasalizes the preceding vowel, and the second consonant is pronounced as normal. Fenme is pronounced [fɑ̃m] and not [fenm], as French orthography would dictate, and Janne is pronounced [ʒɑ̃n] and not [ʒan]. As in French, if the final letter is an e or a consonant, they are generally not pronounced.[34]

In MOGA, [lj] is written lh, and ñ is used in place of n when the preceding consonant should not be nasal: diñra is pronounced [dinʁa].[38]

In the ELG, certain letters and letter groups are only possible in certain positions, such as oey, which only exists at the ends of words. As in ABCD, final consonants in ELG are generally silent. The sound [s] is written as cz, c, ç or s, depending on its position in the word and the surrounding letters. Silent s at the end of a word is written tz.[40]


English Gallo Old French French
afternoon vêpré vespree après-midi (archaic: vêprée)
apple tree pommieu pomier pommier
bee avètt aveille abeille
cider cit cidre cidre
chair chaérr chaiere chaise
cheese fórmaij formage fromage
exit desort sortie sortie
to fall cheir cheoir tomber (archaic: choir)
goat biq chievre, bique chèvre (slang: bique)
him li lui, li lui
house ostèu hostel maison (hôtel)
kid garsaille same root as Old French gars Same root as gars, garçon
lip lip levre lèvre (or lippe)
maybe vantiet puet estre peut-être
mouth góll goule, boche bouche (gueule = mouth of an animal)
now astour a ceste heure maintenant (à cette heure)
number limerot nombre numéro
pear peirr peire poire
school escoll escole école
squirrel chat-de-boéz (lit. "woods cat") escurueil écureuil
star esteill esteile, estoile étoile
timetable oryaer horaire horaire
to smoke betunae fumer fumer (archaic: pétuner)
today anoet hui aujourd'hui
to whistle sublae sibler, sifler siffler
with ô or côteu avek o/od, avoec 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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