Monday, August 11, 2008

Back To The Music After Tisha B' Av

Soldat Louis Video

This afternoon, I broke my musical fast. While washing dishes and cleaning up, I blasted a resuscitative dose of country,Celtic and Albanian music to raise my flagging spirits. During the Three Weeks, I found out about a French singer named Soldat Louis who is proudly Breton. If You look closely at the audience in this video, you can see a girl waving a Breton flag to the rhythm of the music. He has a sound that reminds me a lot of Bruce Springsteen. The song ends up sounding like Southern rock.
France interests me because it is composed of so many regions with distinct dialects and languages. Although French is a Romance language, one of the reasons it diverges so markedly from other Latin based tongues is because the original inhabitants of what is today France were Celts. Brittany still has a large number of speakers of Breton, which is not a Romance but a Celtic language. Breton has declined greatly since the early 1900's when many Bretons could not even speak French. The movement suffered a "kiss of death" when some of its leaders collaborated with the Nazis in the hope that this would advance their political agenda. A political realignment with the left instead of the right rehabilitated Breton nationalism in the eyes of the French public decades later. The strong sense of local pride is today expressed in organised effort to teach, propagate and revive the Breton language (see Wikipedia Article). The existence of linguistic diversity within the nations of Europe does not show up on maps. A look at regional language, cuisine and music enhances immeasurably the experience of visiting a country and understanding its politics. An interesting result of the establishment of the European Union has been the increase in influence of regionalism in European identity.
Breton and Celtic cultural pride resonates with me. I grew up among Irish Americans in Boston and learned a lot from them. Those who maintain a knowledge of their heritage and share it with the world do the world a great service. The Bretons who share the knowledge of their culture are to be commended. The French have a saying of which I never tire. "Vive La Difference." Varied colours on a map give it beauty. Looking at the world's languages side by side is like looking at a family portrait.Experiencing the pride of various nations in the beauty of their music and language moves me to look within.
One of the threads of affinity that binds me to others is my sense of gratitude to the English language for being the medium in which my thoughts are shaped. French influence was very important in making English what it is today. My thoughts often return to the French , my linguistic cousins in the ever changing family portrait of nations. It is a pleasure to share with my readers music in their language.

Soldat Louis - Femmes de L├ęgendes
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