Showing posts with label Celtic. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Celtic. Show all posts

26 March 2015

Map: Gaul during Caesar's time

Published, edited, images added & annotations/comments by Kenneth S. Doig
Gaulish warrior on
(websource: Encyclopædia Orbis Latini)

written by L. A. Curchin 

When Cicero's brother Quintus was besieged by the Nervii in Gaul, Julius Caesar sent him a secret message -- in Greek, not Latin, so it could not be read by the enemy if they intercepted it. 
map showing various (mostly) Indo-European peoples/tribes, c.
500 BC
This is because the Latin and Gaulish languages were very similar to each other, whereas Greek was only a distant relation (and also had a different alphabet). 

Unfortunately the Gauls have left us no literature, so the two ancient European languages we normally study are Latin and Greek.

Despite the similarity, Gaulish was not an Italic language like Latin, but belonged to the Celtic language group, whose modern derivatives include Gaelic, Welsh and Irish. 

The ancient Celts were variously called Keltoi, Celtae, Galatae or Galli, which are really four different forms of the same name. 

Around 390 BC the Gauls sacked Rome. In 279 BC they attacked Delphi, and some of them settled in north-western Turkey: these were the Galatians, whose descendants received an epistle from St. Paul. 
map showing various Gaulish-Celtic tribes
in western Europe in antiquity
The western Celts lived mostly in northern Italy, France and Britain, and these were the 'Gauls' encountered by Caesar.

Our sketchy knowledge of the Gaulish language comes from notices in classical authors and from a small number of Gaulish inscriptions. The longest and most famous of these is the Coligny calendar, preserved on two bronze tablets found in 1897 at Bourg in eastern France. 

This is a lunar calendar with months of 29 days; the lunar time-reckoning of the Gauls is mentioned by Caesar (Gallic War 6.18).

Many Gaulish words closely resemble their Latin counterparts: 
Gaulish Latin
-cue and
es out of
are before
ver over
allos second
tarvos bull
tri three
more sea
rix king
tres, tria 
Caesar's civitates Aremoricae are those who live are more (= ante mare). His opponent Vercingetorix is the over-king (ver-rix) of warriors (cingetos = Irish cinged 'champion')

In the Coligny calendar, the verb divertomu appears at the end of each month and means 'we turn aside (to a different month)': its Latin equivalent is the very similar divertimus

The verb comeimu means 'we go together' (Latin con- 'together' + imus 'we go', from eo, ire).

The close similarity of Gaulish and Latin declensions is clear from this example:
-os /-us (earlier -os)
-i / -i
-u (earlier -o) / -o
-om / -um (earlier -om)
-os, / -oi -i (earlier -oi)
-om / -orum (earlier -om)
-obis / -is (earlier -ois)
-ons / -os (earlier -ons)
Some Gaulish words have no Latin equivalent, because they refer to things unknown at Rome: sapo "soap" (Romans used olive oil instead), cervesia 'beer' (Romans drank wine), tunna 'barrel' (Romans preferred clay storage jars), bracae 'trousers' (Romans wore a toga or tunic). 

Our word 'beaver' is related to beber, the Gaulish name for this animal, from which comes the Gaulish town-name Bibracte. (The Roman equivalent, castor, is possibly the origin of our 'castor' oil, which has a certain resemblance to a nauseous, bitter-tasting oily medicine formerly extracted from the bodies of beavers.)

The similarity of Gaulish to Latin helped it to disappear. Under Roman rule, the Gauls found it relatively easy to learn Latin, and eventually forgot their own language. 

By the Late Empire, when Gaul was overrun by the Germanic Franks, Gaulish was close to extinct. This explains why modern French is based on Latin and Frankish rather than Gaulish.
© L. A. Curchin 

04 March 2015

Student’s Guide to Indo-European

Indo-European groups, in western Eurasia, in the second millennium BC
Published, edited, images added, captions written & annotations/comments (in red) by Kenneth S. Doig

(Websource)Written by A. Rytting
Indo-European has always had a special place in the field of Comparative-Historical Linguistics. Indeed, in the early stages of the disciplines, Comparative-Historical and Indo-European studies were practically synonymous, the former merely referring to the preferred method of investigating the latter.

13 March 2014


Published, edited, formatted, any annotations (in red) & images added by Kenneth S. Doig

In historical linguistics, Italo-Celtic is a grouping of the Italic and Celtic branches of the Indo-European language-family on the basis of features shared by these two branches and no others. 

These are usually considered to be innovations, which are likely to have developed after the breakup of Proto-Indo-European or PIE.

It is also possible that some of these are not innovations, but shared

15 January 2014

Toward a phylogenetic chronology of ancient Gaulish, Celtic, and Indo-European

Published, edited, certain images added & annotated (in red) by Kenneth S. Doig 
  • Alfred Toth§ 
  • (websource: PNAS)

  • Abstract
    Indo-European is the largest and best-documented language family in the world, yet the reconstruction of the Indo-European tree, first proposed in 1863, has remained controversial. 

    Complications may include ascertainment bias when choosing the linguistic data, and disregard for the wave model of 1872 when attempting to reconstruct the tree. 

    08 November 2013

    Proto-Celtic ― English Proto-Celtic English : glossary

    Published, edited, annotated (in red) & images added by Kenneth S. Doig  

    Proto-Celtic ― English
    Proto-Celtic English

    - (*(s)olno-) large
    - (LW < Lat.) babbler
    - (LW < OE) seal
    (kom-)sart-e/o- (??)- bark
    (wala-)* be powerful
    * φlontā- << *φlotnā- ? linen
    *(-)wo-reid-o- horse
    *(?) some
    *(?) φrāko- ahead (?)
    *(ad-)kri- (??) shivering
    *(ad-)mello- tarrying, delay
    *(ambi-??)nastu- (?) wet (possibly cognate to Dutch nat [wet])

    05 November 2013

    Who are the Scots? Celtic-Gaels, Celtic-Britons, Picts (the Picts may have been Celts) Germanic Angles, Jutes, Frisians or Iranian-speaking Scythians?

    Skythian art from early antiquity

    Published, edited, annotated (in redletter) & images added by Kenneth S. Doig
    Skythian art from early antiquity


    (The author and every author I have read heretofore acts like it is some big deal that the enigmatic ethnonym, [and the Scottish people themselves and the ancient Scots and many modern-day Scots] is cognate with the Greek-derived exonym for the semi-nomadic Iranic-speaking, Nordic, i.e., light-haired, light-eyed, light-skinned, tall dolichocephals. 

    01 November 2013

    British placenames : an etymology

    whitehorse, UK
    Published, edited, italicized, formatted,annotated (in redletter) & images added by Kenneth S. Doig
    Map of late Neolithic cultures in Europe - Eupedia
    (from Wikipedia)
    Placenames in England derive from various linguistic origins. Modern interpretations are apt to be inexact: many English forms and names have been corrupted and broken down over the years, due to changes in language and culture which have caused the original meaning to be lost. 

    In some cases, words used in place names are derived

    28 August 2013

    "Indo-European" : a brief synopsis from

    Published, edited, formatted, comments/annotations (in redletter) & images added by Kenneth S. Doig

    By Richard Nordquist, Guide

    A family of languages (including most of the languages spoken in Europe, India, and Iran) descended from a common-tongue spoken in the third millennium B.C. by an agricultural people originating in southeastern Europe.

    08 August 2013

    Indo-European Languages

    Published by Kenneth S. Doig
    Written by Warren Cowgill PhD & Jay H. Jasanoff PhD

    Indo-European languages, family of languages spoken in most of Europe and areas of European settlement and in much of Southwest and South Asia. 

    The term Indo-Hittite is used by scholars who believe that Hittite and the other Anatolian languages are not just one branch of Indo-European but rather a branch coordinate with all the rest put together. 

    Indo-Hittite has been used for a family consisting of Indo-European proper plus Anatolian. As long as this view is neither definitively proved nor disproved, it is convenient to keep the traditional use of the term Indo-European.

    02 April 2013

    Brief Gaulish glossary (selected words)



    Notes for Glossary:
    a', e', i', o', u' - long vowels: [a, e, i, o, u] respectively
    CC - Common Celtic
    OI - Old Irish
    MI - Middle Irish
    MB - Middle Breton


    aballo- (an apple) [IE *amlu-, *samlu- 'apple'?, OI uball]
    adiat (aspiration)
    aesus (m) (an age) [Latin aes, Irish aois]
    allos (other, second) [IE *alyo-, OI aile]
    ambi- (around)
    ardus (high) [IE *er@d- 'high', CC *ardwo-]
    are (before, at, on) [IE *par-, Greek para, Latin prae, OI ar]
    arganto-, argento- (silver) [IE *arg'- 'white, to shine']
    art- (a bear) [IE *arkt-, *Hart- 'a bear']
    artuas (stone plates; pl.)
    ater (m) (father) [IE *pa'te'r 'a father']

    23 December 2012

    Celtic History

    Published, formatted, edited, images (except, where noted) & annotations/comments (in red) by Kenneth S. Doig

    General Celtic Info

    The Celts dominated Mid- and West-Europe for a thousand years. But it is only recently that the importance of Celtic influence on the cultural, linguistic and artistic development of Europe. 

    The Celts as an identifiable race or ethnic group have long since disappeared, except in places such as Ireland and the Scottish Highlands.

    14 September 2012

    People of the British-Isles: An analysis of genetic contributions of European populations to a UK control-population

    ASHG 2012 abstracts (1)
    Figure 1.(brown map) Geographic distribution of the Y-chromosome R1b3(R1xR1a1) haplogroup across the British Isles. The frequency generally increases from Southeast to Northwest, reaching near fixation (100%) in some parts of Western Ireland. Map drawn using data from Capelli et al. (2003) and Moore et al. (2006). (websource)

    2nd to 5th century simplified migrations (Wikipedia)                                                                                              
    Posted 9/11/2012
    (article from the 
    "race/history/evolution notes" blog)

    Genetic map of the British Isles
    A map of genetic variation across Britain.(Oxford)
    Gaels (Google Affiliate Ad)
    People of the British Isles: An analysis of the genetic contributions of European populations to a UK control population. S. Leslie1, B. Winney2, G. Hellenthal3, S. Myers4, P. Donnelly3, W. Bodmer2 1) Statistical Genetics, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Melbourne, Australia; 2) Department of Oncology, University of Oxford, UK; 3) The Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, University of Oxford, UK; 4) Department of Statistics,
     University of Oxford, UK.             
          (The Isles Teashop on Facebook)

    (note: check out "The Isles Teashop on Facebook"...No, I don't own it. It's just a cool site)
    Fundamentals of Forensic DNA-Typing, By Butler, John M. (Google Affiliate Ad)
    There is much interest in fine scale population structure in the UK, as a signature of historical migration events and because of the effect population structure may have on disease association studies. Brights Anglo-Saxon Reader (Google Affiliate Ad)

    17 August 2012


    Õ. IN JÉRÉ c. 300 JÉRU

     GRAMMAR" (Google Affiliate Ad)

    (websource eHow)
    Germanic tribes are readily identifiable based on their common linguistic and ethnic origins. Germanic tribes first formed in Northern Europe, and subsequently migrated throughout Europe, spreading their language and culture while assimilating themselves within varying other tribes to become a dominant society. 'Beowulf and Old Germanic Metre' (Google Affiliate Ad)

    In mixing with local populations, Germanic tribes helped to comprise early history for varying regions by laying down the foundations for future nation-states and countries that formed as a result of Germanic-tribe migration throughout Europe. 

    07 August 2012

    "Germans are mostly Celts"....? (questionmark mine)


    The writer apparently did his studies and/or got his data from mostly "Germans" (he could mean practically anyone of the white race, Nordic, Dinaric, Alpine, Atlanto-Mediterranean, East-Baltic, etc., as long has he [the "anyone"] speak German (not Germanic, mind you, two different meanings.

    LANDS PRE-500 AD

    German in its modern sense means a native of modern-day Germany, Deutschland. Germany Flag T-Shirt (Google Affiliate Ad) The vast majority in Austria would consider themselves & be considered by Germans from Germany & most of the world, to be ethnic Germans. The same goes for Swiss-Germans, German-speakers in Alsace-Lorraine (in France), in Alpine Italy's extreme far-North & elsewhere.

    These modern-day Germans still speak the Germanic (albeit, much change in morphology, lexicon, hugely so in phonology, I speak here of all the Southern or High-German (HG) dialects, or the diaspora or anyone of ethnic German background.

    HG has become the national standard used by Low-

    30 July 2012

    Etymology of the Aryan Gods : Thor, Thunor, Jupiter, Zeus


    Proto-Germanic: *þunra-z, *þunoraz
    Meaning: thunder

    Þunresstáinaz  Fiðurhamraz Þunres Gaulsh (Celtic) Tiranis
    OldNorse (Western OldNorse): Þōrr, dat. Þōri m. (older. Þunarr) god-

    27 July 2012


    Ancient Ireland

    A collection of findings from Archaeology, Geology and other scientific endeavor.

    The following table is meant only as a general guide to some of the early Irish epochs

    The Old-Stone-Age (Palaeolithic): Long ago to 8500-7500 BC

    The Middle-Stone-Age (Mesolithic): 8500-7500 to 4000-3500 BC
    The New-Stone-Age (Neolithic): 4000-3500 to 2500-2000 BC
    The Early Bronze-Age: 2500-2000 to 1300-1200 BC
    The Late Bronze-Age: 1300-1200 to 700-500 BC
    The Dark-Age: 700-500 BC to 200-150 BC
    The Iron-Age: 200-150 BC to 450-500 AD
    The early Christian period: 450-500 AD to 800 AD
    The Viking Age: 800 to 1075 AD
    Medieval: 1075 to 1550 AD
    Please note that dates given here are estimates based on current opinion and evidence, and are subject to change. The convention used on this page is to indicate radiocarbon dates in lower case letters (bc), versus the use of upper case letters (BC) for alternate dating estimates.

    The Ice-Ages

    Caught in the ebb and flow of the last Ice-Ages over the last 2-million years, Ireland was at various times largely glaciated and completely land-locked as a part of the continent of Europe. 
    Ireland was an island about 125,000 years ago when the sea-level appears to have been very close to its present position.

    Good folks who follow this blog