Guipavas has become the latest municipality in Brittany to sign the la charte `Ya d'ar brezhoneg'/`Yes to the Breton language' Charter (opens pdf) .
The Charter - launched by l'Ofis ar Brezhoneg (Office for the Breton language) in 2001 - sets out a commitment for the signing party to meet certain Breton language goals (actions) within a particular time frame. The signing of the municipality of Guipavas (on 21st April 2009) comes only within a couple of weeks after the signing of the charter by the commune of Roskoff whose municipality signed the charter on 10th April.
The Charter is in two parts. The first part of the Charter - launched in 2001 - was aimed at organisations and businesses and attracted 635 signatories. Following its success a second part of the charter was launched in 2004 and was aimed at municipalities within Brittany.
The Ofis ar Brezhoneg offers a certification programme that offers a list of 28 different actions for the municipalities to choose from, spread out over three certified levels. Actions include:
The establishment of bilingual signs at the entrance or exits of town, bilingual messages on answering machines, the creation of a bilingual website for the town hall through to the use of a systematic bilingual policy for all new signs throughout the municipality, conducting a survey of parents to determine the demand for bilingual education and the financing of a bilingual educational programme for all municipal staff. It is expected that to achieve the highest level of certification (level 3) the municipality should complete the actions agreed upon over a period of a maximum of 3 years.
Ofis ar Brezhoneg liaises closely with and monitors the development of the municipalities' agreement, although of course it is not legally binding in any way and depends on a large extent on good will and the credence that the municipality attains from showing its support from the Breton language. Support for the Charter has come from a wide variety of different groups and in the first part some 600 organisations, including restaurants, businesses and museums, signed the Charter. The list of municipalities that is signing part 2 of the Charter is also growing at an incredible rate and there are now almost a hundred municipalities who have signed, showing their commitment to the language.
The Breton nationalist party, Parti Breton, also signed the Charter this week (23rd April), committing itself to 18 actions, which include making all its promotional materials and communications bilingual, including its logo, website, membership cards and voice mail. The Charter was signed by Emile Granville, spokesman for Parti Breton and assistant Mayor of the city of Redon.
The model of the Ya d'ar brezhoneg charter could easily be ameliorated in the other Celtic countries, especially in Cornwall, Isle of Man and Scotland where the different Celtic languages could be much better promoted.
(Article compiled for Celtic News by Rhisiart Tal-e-bot, Celtic League General Secretary)
J B MoffattDirector of Information