Post by on Nov 2, 2006 13:45:47 GMT -5
The Brythonic languages (or Brittonic languages) form one of the two branches of the Insular Celtic language family. The name Brythonic is derived from the Welsh word Brython, meaning an indigenous Briton as opposed to an Anglo-Saxon or Gael. The Brythonic branch is also referred to as P-Celtic because the Brythonic reflex of the Proto-Indo-European phoneme *kw is p as opposed to the Goidelic c. Such nomenclature usually implies an acceptance of the P-Celtic hypothesis rather than the Insular Celtic hypothesis (for a discussion, see Celtic languages).
The major Brythonic languages are Welsh and Breton, both of which survive as community languages today. The Cornish language died out at the end of the eighteenth century, but was successfully revived in the twentieth. Also notable are the extinct language Cumbric, and possibly the extinct Pictish (although the late Kenneth H. Jackson argued during the 1950s, from some of the few remaining examples of Pictish, that Pictish was a non-Indo-European language, the majority of modern scholars of Pictish do not agree).
The family tree of the Brythonic languages is as follows:
o Pictish (possibly)
o Ivernic (possibly}
o British, ancestral to:
+ Western Brythonic language. ancestral to:
+ Southwestern Brythonic, ancestral to:
History and origins
The modern Brythonic languages all derive from a common ancestral language termed British, Common Brythonic, Old Brythonic or Proto-Brythonic, which is thought to have developed from the Proto-Celtic language which was introduced to Britain from the middle second millennium BC (Hawkes, 1973). Brythonic languages were then spoken at least in the whole of Great Britain south of the rivers Forth and Clyde, presumably also including the Isle of Man. The theory has been advanced (notably by R. F. O'Rahilly) that Ireland was populated by speakers of Brythonic before being displaced by speakers of a Q-Celtic language (possibly from the Quarietii tribe of southern France), although the linguists Dillon and Chadwick reject this theory as being implausible.
During the period of the Roman occupation of Britain (AD 43 to c. 410), Common Brythonic borrowed a large stock of Latin words, both for concepts unfamiliar in the pre-urban society of Celtic Britain such as tactics of warfare and urbanisation and rather more mundane words which displaced native terms (most notably, the word for "fish" in all the Brythonic languages derives from the Latin piscus rather the native *iskos). Approximately eight hundred of these Latin loan-words have survived in the three modern Brythonic languages.
It is probable that during this period Common Brythonic was differentiated into at least two major dialect groups - Southwestern and Western (in addition we may posit additional dialects spoken in what is now England which have left little or no evidence). Between the end of the Roman occupation and the mid sixth century the two dialects began to diverge into recognisably separate languages, the Western into Cumbric and Welsh and the Southwestern into Cornish and its closely related sister language Breton, which was carried from the south of Britain to continental Armorica by refugees fleeing the Saxon invaders.
The Brythonic languages spoken in Scotland, the Isle of Man and England were displaced at the same time by Goidelic and Old English speaking invaders.
For the later history of the neo-Brythonic languages see under their own respective articles.
Remnants in England and Scotland
The principal legacy left behind in those territories from which the Brythonic languages were displaced is that of toponyms. Many of the place-names in England and to a lesser extent Scotland are derived (sometimes indirectly) from the Brythonic names, including London, Penicuik, Perth, York, Dorchester, Dover and Colchester. Several place-name elements are thought to be wholly or partly Brythonic in origin, particularly bre-, bal-, and -dun for hills, carr for a high rocky place, coomb for a small deep valley. Others reflect the presence of Brythons, such as Dumbarton.
Until recently it has been believed that those areas settled by the Anglo-Saxons were uninhabited at the time or the Britons had fled before them. However, genetic studies show that the British were not pushed out to the Celtic fringes – many tribes remained in what was to become England. These findings strengthen the research of Steven Bassett of the University of Birmingham; his work during the 1990s suggests that much of the West Midlands was only very lightly colonised with Anglian and Saxon settlements.
It is generally accepted that linguistic effects on English were lexically rather poor aside from toponyms, consisting of a few domestic words, which may include hubbub, peat, bucket, crock, noggin, gob (c.f. Gaelic gob), nook; and the dialectal term for a badger, i.e. brock (c.f. Welsh broch, and Gaelic Broc). Arguably, the use of periphrastic constructions in the English verb (which is more widespread than in the other Germanic languages) is traceable to Brythonic influence.
Some researchers argue that English syntax reflects more extensive Brythonic influences. For instance, in English tag questions, the form of the tag depends on the verb form in the main statement (aren't I?, isn't he?, won't we? etc). The German nicht wahr? and the French n'est ce pas?, by contrast, are fixed forms which can be used with almost any main statement. It has been claimed that the English system has been borrowed from Brythonic, since Welsh tag questions vary in almost exactly the same way. This view is far from being generally accepted, though, since it is equally possible that the Welsh construction is borrowed from English.
Far more notable, but less well known, are the Brythonic influences on Scottish Gaelic which are many. Like English, periphrastic constructions have come to the fore, but to a much greater degree. Some important borrowings into Gaidhlig include Beinn meaning mountain, and anglicised "Ben", probably from the Brythonic pen meaning "Head".
1. ^ A Y Chromosome Census of the British Isles; Cristian Capelli, Nicola Redhead, Julia K. Abernethy, Fiona Gratrix, James F. Wilson, Torolf Moen, Tor Hervig, Martin Richards, Michael P. H. Stumpf, Peter A. Underhill, Paul Bradshaw, Alom Shaha, Mark G. Thomas, Neal Bradman, and David B. Goldstein Current Biology, Volume 13, Issue 11, Pages 979-984 (2003). Retrieved 9 December 2005.
* The Celtic Roots of English edited by Markku Filppula, Juhani Klemola and Heli Pitkänen, by Joensuu University.
The Goidelic languages (also sometimes called the Gaelic languages or collectively Gaelic) are one of two major divisions of modern-day Insular Celtic languages (the other being the Brythonic languages). There are three attested Goidelic languages: Irish (Gaeilge), Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig), and Manx (Gaelg). Shelta is sometimes mistakenly thought to be a Goidelic language when it is, in fact, a cant based on Irish and English, with a primarily English-based syntax.
The Goidelic branch is also known as Q-Celtic, because Proto-Celtic *kw was originally retained in this branch (later losing its labialization and becoming plain [k]), as opposed to Brythonic, where *kw became
. This sound change is found in Gaulish as well, so Brythonic and Gaulish are sometimes collectively known as "P-Celtic". (In Celtiberian, *kw is also retained, so the term "Q-Celtic" could be applied to it as well, although Celtiberian is not a Goidelic language.)
For example, here are translations for the English word "four"
Scottish Gaelic: ceithir
Although Irish and Manx are often referred to as Irish Gaelic and Manx Gaelic — and it is correct to describe them as Goidelic or Gaelic languages — this is unnecessary because the words Irish and Manx only ever refer to these languages whereas Scots by itself refers to a Germanic language. The word Gaelic by itself is somewhat ambiguous, but most often refers to Scottish Gaelic and it is the word that Scottish Gaelic speakers themselves use when speaking English. Furthermore, due to the peculiar politics of language and national identity, some Irish speakers are offended by the use of the word Gaelic by itself to refer to Irish. For knowledgable Irish people, Gaelic is specifically Northern Irish Gaelic - and this is the origin of the English word Gaelic. Similarly, some Scottish Gaelic speakers also find offensive the use of the obsolete word Erse (i.e. "Irish") to refer to their language. Erse is the Scots English form of "Irish".
It must also be kept in mind that in the languages themselves the language is called : Gaoluinn/Gaeluinn (Southern Irish), Gaeilge (Western Irish), Gaelic (Northern Irish), Gaelg (Manx) and Gàidhlig (Scottish). All these are the modern dialect descendants of Goideleg , which in itself is originally a more-or-less derogative term from Old Welsh. It is the adjective derived in Old Welsh from Goidel 'pirate, raider', used to refer to the person/people [in Modern Irish/Manx Gael, Scottish Gaidheal) - compare the modern British words Cymru [Wales] - Cymraeg [Welsh language], Kernow [Cornwall] - Kernowek [Cornish language], Breizh [Brittany] - Brezhoneg [British language]. The Goidel called themselves various names according to there tribal/clan affiliations, but the most general seems to have been Scotos (plural : Scoti), borrowed by the Romans as Scotus/Scotius (plural : Scoti/Scotii); this word is a special used of the adjective/noun which in Modern Irish/Gaelic is written scoth 'best, most perfect, supreme, superior, etc. [more or less 'pick of the bunch']' [as in the phrase scoth na mná állainn 'the flower of beautiful women'].
The family tree of the Goidelic languages is as follows:
o Primitive Irish, ancestral to:
o Old Irish, ancestral to:
o Middle Irish, ancestral to:
+ Scottish Gaelic
+ Galwegian Gaelic
History and range
Goidelic languages were once restricted to Ireland, but sometime between the 3rd century and the 6th century a group of the Irish Celts known to the Romans as Scoti began migrating from Ireland to what is now Scotland and eventually assimilated the Picts (a group of peoples who may have originally spoken a Brythonic language) who lived there. Manx, the former common language of the Isle of Man, is closely akin to the Gaelic spoken in north east Ireland and the now extinct Gaelic of Galloway (in southwest Scotland), with heavy influence from Old Norse because of the Viking invasions. Shelta, a cant spoken by the Irish Travellers, is considered its own language even though it is based largely on Irish. Goidelic languages may once have been common on the Atlantic coast of Europe and there is evidence that they were spoken in the region of Galicia in modern Spain and Portugal, around Marseille, at the head waters of the Seine, in the Celtic heartlands of Switzerland, Austria and so on, and in Galatia. The Goidelic languages had their own unique script, known as ogham, in use from at least the 5th century until the 15th, especially for carving on wood or stone.
The oldest written Goidelic language is Primitive Irish, which is attested in Ogham inscriptions up to about the 4th century AD. Old Irish is found in the margins of Latin religious manuscripts from the 6th century to the 10th century. Middle Irish, the ancestor of the modern Goidelic languages, is the name for the language as used from the 10th to the 16th century. A form of Middle Irish was used as a literary language in Ireland and Scotland until the 17th century, and often in both countries well into the 18th century; the Ethnologue gives the name "Hiberno-Scottish Gaelic" to this purely written language. Often called Classical Irish, the modern Irish and Scottish Gaelic written forms [of which there are at least four] are merely modernisations (in general in parallel, sometimes in different directions) of the 'classical' language. As long as this written language was the norm, Ireland was always considered the Gaelic homeland to the Scottish literati.
Irish is one of Ireland's two official languages (along with English) and is still fairly widely spoken in the south, west and north west of Ireland. The legally defined Irish-speaking areas are called the Gaeltacht. At present, Irish is primarily spoken in Counties Cork, Donegal, Mayo, Galway, Kerry and, to a lesser extent, in Waterford and Meath. Irish is also spoken by a few people in Northern Ireland and has been accorded some legal status there under the 1998 Belfast Agreement. Approximately 260,000 people in the Republic of Ireland can speak the Irish language fluently, while close to 80,000 (mainly in the Gaeltacht) speak Irish as a first, day to day language. Over a million citizens of the Republic of Ireland have some understanding in Irish (ranging from minimum to almost fluent). Before the Irish potato famine of the 1840s, the language was spoken by the vast majority of the population, but the famine and emigration led to a decline which has only begun to reverse very recently. The census figures do not take into account those Irish who have emigrated, and it has been estimated (rightly or wrongly) that there are more native speakers of Irish in Great Britain, the US, Australia and other parts of the world than there are people in Ireland itself.
The Irish language has been officially recognised as a working language by the European Union. Ireland's national language is the 21st to be given such recognition by the EU and previously had the status of a treaty language.
Some people in the north and west of Scotland and the Hebrides still speak Scottish Gaelic, but because of its minimal official recognition and because of large-scale emigration from those parts of Scotland, the language has been in decline. There are now believed to be approximately 1,000 native speakers of Scottish Gaelic in Nova Scotia and 60,000 in Scotland.
Its historical range was much larger. For example, it was the everyday language of most of the rest of the Highlands until little more than a century ago. Galloway had also been a Goidelic-speaking region, but the Galwegian language has been extinct there for approximately three centuries. It is believed to have been home to dialects that were transitional between Scottish Gaelic and the two other Goidelic languages. Most other areas of the Lowlands also spoke forms of Gaelic, the only exceptions being the area which lies on the south-eastern part of the modern border with England - the area called Lothian in the Middle Ages - and the far north-east (parts of Caithness), Orkney and Shetland.
The very word Scotland in fact takes its name from the Latin word for a Gael, Scotus, which itself may come from the primitive Irish scotos (now "scoth"; = "best one", "the pick of the bunch", etc). So Scotland or Scotia originally meant Land of the Gaels. Moreover, until late in the 15th century, it was solely the Gaelic language used in Scotland which in English was called Scottish or - more authentically - Scottis. Scottis continued to be the English name for the language, although it was gradually superseeded by the word Erse, an act of cultural disassociation which contributed to the language's declining status. In the early 16th century the dialects of Middle English which had developed in Lothian and had come to be spoken elsewhere in the Kingdom of Scotland themselves appropriated the name Scots. By the seventeenth century Gaelic speakers were restricted largely to the Highlands and the Hebrides. Furthermore, the culturally repressive measures taken against the rebellious highland communities by the British crown following the 2nd Jacobite Rebellion of 1746 caused still further decline in the language's use - to a large extent by enforced emmigration. Even more decline followed in the 19th and early 20th centuries
The Scottish Parliament has afforded the language official status and equal respect with English, sparking hopes that Scottish Gaelic can be saved from extinction and perhaps even revived.
Manx is technically extinct, although attempts to revive it continue and it is still used in ceremonies such as Tynwald Day. A small minority of the Manx people, not estimated to be more than 2,000, can speak the language, although the person considered to be the last true native speaker, Ned Maddrell, died in 1974. Although a Gaelic language, closely related to its Irish and Scottish sister languages, the Manx language also borrowed heavily from the Old Norse language introduced by Viking raiders centuries ago, as well as middle English and Welsh.
Other Celtic tongues
All the other living Celtic languages belong to the Brythonic branch of Celtic, which includes Welsh (Cymraeg), Breton (Brezhoneg), and Cornish (Kernowek). Pictish was the ancient language of much of modern day Scotland, but it is not clear that Pictish was a Celtic language. These are sometimes incorrectly referred to as "Gaelic". For extinct Celtic languages, see also Continental Celtic languages.
The mixed languages are not specifically "Goidelic languages" as such, but have a strong input from them, they include:
* Bungee language in Canada, a Métis mix of Scottish Gaelic and Cree language
* Shelta, a mix of Irish language and English