How to use this website

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This page is meant to provide you with a global view of the scope of the ARBRES website, and help you to fully use its functionalities.

 ARBRES is an interactive website that offers different type of resources for the study of the syntax of the Breton
 It aims at being:
 > a permanent up-to-date state-of-the-art of current researches 
 > an accurate and theoretically informed description of syntactic microvariation 
 > a pedagogical resource for workers of the Breton language
 > an active international research tool
 > a collaborative social experimentation organized around a highly endangered language 
 In order to reach these goals, ARBRES provides:
 > a full grammar on-line of the Breton microdialectal variation, with a carefull description 
 of the dialectal and idiolectal facts and a description of the theoretical impact for our knowledge of grammar 
 (more than 870 articles). 
 > a French and English glossary of more than 250 terms of formal grammar, linked each to definitions illustrated 
 by Breton data. 
 > an Elicitation Center by which the international syntactic research community can co-built 
 protocols with a Breton expert, who operates next the elicitations and posts the protocol's results on-line.
 > different crowd-sourcing aggregative projects for the study of the Breton language.
 ARBRES uses the wiki technology and is fully open to collaborative writing and review. 
 Since autumn 2014, ARBRES welcomes an average of 55 human visits a day.  

The Breton grammar on-line

This website contains a full descriptive and formal grammar of the Breton language in all its dialectal varieties.

It can be used like a classical printed grammar, by browsing the table of contents, or by clicking directly on one of its major sections:

 1. Morphology 
 2. Constituents
 3. Syntax of the sentence
 4. Information structure
 5. Discourse

These five major sections will remain accessible during your entire navigation, on the left panel of the screen, Under Grammaire du breton.

Like a regular printed grammar, it can also be browsed at random, by clicking on article au hasard.

Unlike a regular printed grammar, it can be searched in numerically, via the search box in the upper right corner of the screen, in either English or French.

Upon arriving at the article you want to consult, you will find first a brief summary with illustrative examples, followed by a table of contents. A typical article looks as follows:

 1. Morphology
 1.1. Accentuation
 1.2. Consonant mutations
 1.3. Gender, number, person 
 2. Syntax
 2.1. Properties
 2.2. Distribution
 2.3. Associated elements
 3. Semantics 
 4. Diachrony 
 5. Typology
 6. Terminology
 7. Bibliography


Every example is numbered. The first line is in Breton. Below come glosses in French. Most glosses are active links, each leading to a full article with description and analysis. Glossing indicates partial morphological analysis, with affixes having their own active links. Super-scripted numbers in the glosses are also active links: they indicate the different consonant mutations (lenition in 1) that affect the initial consonants in Breton. The gloss line also indicates partial syntactic analysis, such as constituency.

For explanatory purposes, the examples here are glossed in English:

(1) Sevel a reas ar paotr e zaoulagad …
raise.INF R did the boy [VP _ his1 2.eye ]
'The boy raised his eyes.' Standard Breton, Drezen (1990:23)

The example ends with a global translation for the Breton sentence. Sometimes, when relevant, an alternative translation in the dialectal French of Low Brittany is provided above the translation in standard French.

(2) Me am-eus c'hoant da lavared penaoz ema ar wirionez gant ar skolaer! Treger Breton
me R-1SG has impulse to say how is the 1truth avec le instituteur
'I am inclined to say that the teacher is right.' English
'Moi, j'ai envie de dire que la vérité est avec l'instituteur.' Treger French, Gros (1984:176)
'Moi, je prétends que l'instituteur a raison.' Standard French

When available, an IPA transcription is also given, in green letters.

(3) [ wa kOmâsǝd ǝ rEzistâs nEm fòrmo ]
Oa komañset ar Rezistañs en em furmañ.
was started the résistance [ SC reflexive gather .INF ]
'The resistance had started gathering.' Haute-Cornouaille (Lanvenegen), Evenou (1987:627)

All examples end by indicating the dialectal variety (in italics), and a reference indicating the source. The reference is an active link, and directs to a separate bibliographic page, here the unpublished thesis of Evenou (1987).

Reference pages

Each example is linked to its precise source. Sources are active links toward a dedicated reference page. ARBRES contains

more than 160 articles of references for corpora of written and spoken Breton
more than 250 articles of references for research works, books and articles, about the language.

Each reference is associated with (when available):

  • complete bibliographical information
  • an active link toward the URL address of the reference
  • the publication history
  • an abstract or summary
  • reviews
  • identification of the dialect(s) used or discussed
  • erratum list
  • active links toward extracts of the reference (see for example: Kervella (1947))

A useful feature allows you to see exactly where a given reference has been cited within the website. In the reference article, go to the Outils [tools] box and click on pages liées [linked pages]. You will get the list of items linking to the reference.

Explore a topic

After reading a given article, there are several options to explore further.

  • Try the clickable links inside the article to explore associated pages.
  • explore the bibliography:
If an article, a thesis or a book has been written on the topic, it should appear at the bottom of the page, in "bibliographie". If this work has not been mentioned (yet), go to the general bibliography page in the Resource Center.
  • Find other pages of the same category
Each article belongs to one or more category. For example, the article on kalz, 'lot (of)', belongs to the categories determiner, adverb, quantifieur et indefinite. These are listed with links at the very bottom of the page.
Clicking on a given category gives you the list of all the pages from the same category.
  • Leave comments or questions on the "discussion" page associated with each article:
I answer comments and questions in a timely manner. I update the website accordingly, provide explanations, or develop new tools.

cite a page of this website

I recommand the following format for citing this work:

  • Jouitteau, M. (ed.) (2009-2016). 'title of the article', In ARBRES, site de recherche sur la syntaxe formelle de la microvariation syntaxique de la langue bretonne, URL of the article, [date of access].

and if you wish to make reference to the entire ARBRES grammar:

  • Jouitteau, M. (2009-2016). ARBRES, site de recherche sur la syntaxe formelle de la microvariation syntaxique de la langue bretonne,

How to use the Resource Center

The Resource Center is meant to provide all type of information for research. It is always accessible through the left panel on the screen.

It provides the classical tools of printed grammars, and some less classical ones deriving from the choice of the digital medium and of the Open Science research paradigm.

Classical Tools

The bibliography is intended as a complete, up-to-date guide to the descriptive and scientific works on the syntax and morphosyntax of Breton. Whenever possible, active links are made available to documents on-line. The references used on the website are visible at a glance (they are active links toward the reference page).
Specialized journals like Hor Yezh or La Bretagne Linguistique have a dedicated page listing their contents.
  • A glossary of more than 250 technical terms used in formal grammar, and its version in French
In order to find the French translation of a term, follow the links in the English glossary - you will arrive at an article whose title is the French translation or appears in bold at the beginning of the article. For translation from French to English or Breton, search for the terminologie [terminology] subpart of the articles.
  • A list of technical abbreviations, as well as traditional acronyms for corpora and glosses.

What's new?

This website is evolutive, and can be used to share news about the study of Breton, internal or external to the website.

Here I announce calls for papers, conferences, important publications, news about the Breton language and also the lastest works on the website.
  • It is also possible to follow the history of one page in particular, or check the latest modifications on the website under Modifications Récentes.
  • A page of useful external links:
In English, Breton, French, there are links to explore the study of Breton and to electronic resources on Breton, the Celtic languages, and minority languages in general.

This is a participative website: you can post informations in the news page, add new references in the bibliography, or enrich the links pages.

Find out more about a particular dialect

The tools of the Resource Center are meant to be of help.

  • Find corpora or references
The dialects of works in the general bibliography have been geographically localized on a googlemap. This lets you visualize the geographical distribution of works on different varieties of Breton.
A grammar gives a special feature for a dialect and you want to check the facts? The map helps you find references for corpora and grammars closest to this place.
This list is far from exhaustive, but allows you to choose an author or work according to the dialect of interest.
  • Consult the list of different usable corpora in the Resource Center.
Provides references for audio transcripts, written, glossed, IPA transcripted corpora, etc.)


The system of clickable glosses makes of ARBRES a powerful tool for learning the language. One can surf from page to page, reading the Breton sentences and clicking on any item of the sentence she wants to learn more about.

One can search a lexical item in one of the different orthographic systems, or under a mutated form, and still find the page.


There are many funny clever ways to use this website in order to create pedagogical content. Here are two suggestions :

  • The page "Catégorie:Désambiguïsations" collects a clickable list of ambiguous morphemes, which have more than one meaning in Breton. This could provide for good quiz material.
  • Specific maps of the Linguistic Atlas of Low-Brittany have been integrated within articles, making it easy to build cartographic representations for a given topic.
  • Why not propose a collaboration project with this website?

Open Science

This website ARBRES has been since 2009 an experiment of open and participative science. This is an open research notebook. I have discussed this experiment in an article: Jouitteau (2013b).

Open Access

Open access means that the results of research are to be made available at the end of the process of research.

The Breton grammar on this website is freely accessible, and collects links toward other works made available on the web. Some articles are available for download directly from this website.

Research in the Making

Research is at heart a process accessible to anyone. Here one can see research in the making, with contributions, corrections, discussions, and new hypotheses on the rise being tested.

  • The traceability of this work is complete. Each page is associated with a complete history giving all modifications made to it since its creation. One can see live how is science done, how new data and new publications change our hypotheses .

Science 2.0

Passive Crowdsourcing

This website is provided with internal statistical tools and with google analytics. This allows for a rather precise statistical representation of the way this website is been used. This anonymized data, a flow of about 55 human visits a day, provides a useful form of feedback.

Active Crowdsourcing

The new digital tools allow for both cumulative collaboration (massive aggregation of small contributions into a single architecture), and a distributive collaboration (with differentiated tasks).

This project raises the question of your place in the process. You can help the project at many different levels. Will you take part?

Science for Everyone

The object of science is not reducible to its civic and social impact: science has legitimate goals internal to itself. But when science can flourish in the civic and social dimensions as well, why do without?

  • At the end of 2013, the organisers of the "Race for Breton", Redadeg 2014 asked for the translation of I speak Breton, what about you? in as many languages as possible. Within a few days, linguists from the whole world joined in with great joy and built the page I speak Breton, what about you?, gathering linguistic information from more than 77 languages. 1695 Breton speakers made self-portraits using these sentences, and posted them on the web to support the race for the Breton language.


Jouitteau, M. 2013b, 'La linguistique comme science ouverte; Une expérience de recherche citoyenne à carnets ouverts sur la grammaire du breton', Lapurdum XVI, Charles Videgain (dir.), 93-115, texte en ligne.