St. Brieuc

I am at the St. Brieuc [1] library now, having just arrived from Guingamp. The library system here allows visitors to use the Internet for free for a period of half an hour, however if there is no one waiting to use it after this half hour one can stay on-line as long as one likes. I arrived at 13.15 only to find the library closed. In St. Brieuc, the library is open from 10.00 to 12.00 on Saturdays, then from 13.30 to 17.00, so I only had a fifteen-minute wait. It is raining buckets here and I seem to have brought the curse of rain to France. I don’t know what was worse: the rain or the TGV train ride here. I was stuck in a train with two screaming babies at either end. Thank goodness the trip was only sixteen minutes long. My blood was boiling by the time we pulled into the St. Brieuc station. I admit I do not have patience with screaming children however what can one do about it? Just sit back and deal with it. I couldn’t switch cars as my seat was reserved.

Earlier this morning I visited the bookstores of Guingamp and spent far too much money on Breton books, a French-Breton/Breton-French dictionary, books on Breton legends and history and some Breton music CD’s. I had a sudden change of plans yesterday after class, as I found out that afternoon that there wouldn’t be anyone to drive me back to Guingamp this morning. (My original plan was to stay overnight in Plésidy Friday night and return to Guingamp this morning.) One of my fellow students, who fortunately lived in Guingamp, offered to drive me right after class. I had only fifteen minutes to pack everything during the afternoon break. I had to undo the bed (I had to bring bedsheets with me from home) and pack up all my clothes and books. I managed to do it within this short time and then we were off shortly after 18.00. My fellow student and driver, Marie-Pierre, even offered to put me up for the night however I preferred to return to the hotel I stayed at when I first arrived on Saturday, the Hôtel d’Arrivée. I just hoped they had a room available. The hotelier who greeted me last week recognized me and asked me how the Breton course was. I got a room and repacked my suitcases. I must say I did a good job because I had so much space available. That was just what I needed because the books I bought today will need someplace to go.

I am staying at the youth hostel in St. Brieuc and I think I will walk there. The guidebook I have says that it is conveniently located close to downtown, where I am now, yet I have my reservations about its proximity. The small map in the guidebook has an arrow pointing to the hostel outside of the map boundaries, so I wonder if
the hostel simply couldn’t fit in on the map on the guidebook’s small printed page, or if the hostel is somewhere w-a-y out there. I must have faith in the guidebook’s accuracy if I am going to attempt to walk there in the rain.

Quick Breton info tidbit: the infinitive forms of verbs do not have any recognizable endings as they do in many languages, like French and German. Breton is like English in that any word can end up being an infinitive. English however does have some recognizable suffixes like -ize and -ify that indicate the word is a verb, and Breton does too, most notably -iñ and -añ.

There are four different ways to write the present tense in Breton, and each way requires its own specific verbal structure. If the subject precedes the verb (a very non-Breton way of writing or speaking) then one verb is used. If the object precedes the verb, another verb is used. If the verb itself starts the sentence (and I am not talking about imperative sentences) then another verb is used. Finally, if any other element (they’re all lumped into one) is used, you use a fourth conjugation. It is taking me a while just to recognize all the conjugations of the verb “to be”.

My half hour is up. I must send this off now, not proofread.


[1] The C is not pronounced.

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