chapter  15
Language, culture and identity in Brittany: the sociolinguistics of Breton
ByLenora A. Timm
Pages 41

OVERVIEW OF BRITTANY Geography Brittany is easily recognized on topographical maps of France as that western arm of northern France that projects into the Atlantic Ocean. It is with good reason, then, that the westernmost of the four departments that comprise today the Région Bretagne (henceforth Breton Region) within the administrative parameters of France is called Finistère (<Lat. fi nis terrae) ‘the end of the earth’; the other three departments are Côtes d’Armor, Ile-et-Vilaine, and Morbihan. Prior to 1941, however, Brittany also included the department of Loîre-Atlantique, lying south of the other four. It was detached from the others during the administrative reorganization of France under the Vichy Regime, a sore point for many Bretons, and a vocal movement exists today calling for its re-attachment to the Breton Region.1 The major city of Loîre-Atlantique, Nantes, was the seat of the Duchy of Brittany during its period of semi-autonomous existence that extended effectively from the late Middle Ages until the French Revolution. In this chapter, reference to Brittany or Bretons should generally be assumed to mean the current offi cial (four-department) region unless mention is specifi cally made of ‘historical Brittany’.