Hewitt (2017)

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  • Hewitt, Steve. 2017. 'Review of Michael Hornsby 2015, Neo-speakers of endangered languages: Theorizing failure to learn the language properly as creative post-vernacularity', Journal of Celtic Linguistics 16:127-154.


Hewitt (2017:131): "There is a recognizable ‘learners’ Breton’, which is strongly French in phonology, syntax and phraseology, but highly puristic in vocabulary. While no one factor, with the exception of the lexicon, actually impedes intercomprehension, the cumulative efefct is to make communication in Breton between such activists and traditional native speakers laborious at best, and usualy unfeasible in practice."

Hewitt (2017:132): "It occurs to me that most people do not have a well-developped linguistic metalanguage, with which to describe various components of the language; the word ‘accent’ in such contexts is actually shorthand for everything: phonetics, morpholoy, syntax, phraseology and idiom, except the lexicon."

Hewitt (2017:144): "The reason [native speakers of Breton] have problems with Standard Breton is precisely that is does not exist ‘at a non-local, pan-Brittany level’: it has no traditional native speakers, and even relatively few fluent speakers: above all, it does not represent a natural and workable compromise between the various living dialects; all native speakers find it difficult to follow. This is why traditional speakers have such a hard time with it. […] There is considerable debate about what to call varieties like Neo-Breton: ‘mixed’, ‘hybrid’, ‘French in disguise’, a ‘contact variety’, a ‘creole’, a ‘xenolect’, i.e, ‘slightly foreignised varieties spoken natively which are not creoles because they have not undergone significant restructuring […]. Because Neo-Breton is for the most part emphatically not spoken natively (or if it is, technically, such ‘native’ speakers will tend to be more proficient in the dominant, majority language of French), most of these descriptions are rather inaccurate. Perhaps ‘neolect’ would be the most appropriate: an imperfectly learned variety which shows wide-ranging interference from the metropolitan mothertongue at all linguistic levels except the lexical, combined with a high proportion of purist neologism not generally understood by native speakers."