Anything About Everything

14 September 2014

British, Great Britain

Filed under: History,People,Politics,Society — rajiv @ 3:19 am

In answer to the question “Is it ever correct to call someone “Great British”?”

From Wikipedia:

“Brittany (French: Bretagne [bʁə.taɲ] ( listen); Breton: Breizh, pronounced [brɛjs] or [brɛχ];[1] Gallo: Bertaèyn, pronounced [bəʁ.taɛɲ]) is a cultural region in the north-west of France. Covering the western part of Armorica, as it was known during the period of Roman occupation, Brittany subsequently became an independent kingdom and then a duchy before being united to the Kingdom of France in 1532 as a province. Brittany has also been referred to as Less, Lesser or Little Britain (as opposed to Great Britain). It is bordered by the English Channel to the north, the Celtic Sea and the Atlantic Ocean to the west, and the Bay of Biscay to the south. Its land area is 34,023 km² (13,136 sq mi).”

So at some stage, Great Britain was used to distinguish it from Brittany (Little Britain). Great Britain is the largest island in the archipelago that is the British Isles. The British Isles comprises the island of Great Britain, the island of Ireland and all the smaller islands that make up the archipelago. England, Scotland and Wales make up Great Britain. As it is no longer strictly necessary to use “Great” to distinguish it from Brittany, Great Britain is often colloquially referred to as Britain.

The United Kingdom is officially the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The rest of the island of Ireland is the Republic of Ireland.

The Kingdom of Great Britain was formed out of the union of the English and Scottish crowns in 1707.  Geographically, it comprised of the island of Great Britain and the smaller islands surrounding it (excluding the island of Ireland).  When the Irish crown was merged with that of the kingdom in 1801, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was formed.  When the Irish Free State (now the Republic of Ireland) seceded from the United Kingdom in 1922, what was left was the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, as it still is today.

Britannia was the name given by the Romans to the part of Great Britain over which they had some degree of control. That is roughly modern day England and Wales. The remaining part of Great Britain outside of Roman control was Caledonia (roughly modern day Scotland).

Now back to the original question. British and Briton are derived from the name the Romans used to refer to the originally Celtic peoples of Britain. The term British in particular is nowadays used colloquially to to anything or anyone from Great Britain, or even the UK.

The people of Brittany are referred to as Bretons. It would be almost as odd to call people of Great Britain “Great British” as it would to call Bretons “Little British”.

Interestingly, the Bretons are not descended from the original Celtic peoples of Gaul.

The Bretons are an ethnic group located in the region of Brittany in France. They trace much of their heritage to groups of Brittonic speakers who emigrated from southwestern Great Britain including Cornwall to avoid invading Germanic tribes. They migrated in waves from the 3rd to 9th century (most heavily from 450 to 600) into the Armorican peninsula, which was subsequently named Brittany after them.[5]

Breton is an Insular Celtic language:

Insular Celtic languages are those Celtic languages that originated in the British Isles, in contrast to the Continental Celtic languages of mainland Europe and Anatolia. All surviving Celtic languages are from the Insular Celtic group; the Continental Celtic languages are extinct. The six Insular Celtic languages of modern times can be divided into:

* the Goidelic languages: Irish, Manx, and Scottish Gaelic
* the Brittonic languages: Breton, Cornish, and Welsh (another language or dialect, Cumbric, is extinct).

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