Showing posts with label LEXICON. Show all posts
Showing posts with label LEXICON. 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 

26 October 2011


                                      (ANNOTATIONS & CAPTIONS BY ME ARE IN THIS REDDISH SHADE)

Latin Online

Lesson 5

By Winfred P. Lehmann, PhD & Jonathan Slocum, PhD

After describing the civilization of the Gauls, Caesar has a brief but highly interesting section on the Germani. We may almost conclude from it that they had maintained the way of life we assume for the late Indo-European period.

Their gods are those of the culture of the steppes. They are basically hunter-gatherers. Warfare makes up their principal activity. And in contrast with the Gauls they have no specific classes; this is in keeping with Meillet's conclusion that the Indo-Europeans were basically democratic, and also individualistic.

Reading and Textual Analysis

Caesar goes on to describe the large forests to the east, and some of the animals, such as the elk and the ure-oxen, noting how the Germans hunt them by having them fall in pits. The most interesting part of his account is that given here.
Germani multum ab hac consuetudine differunt.
  • Germani -- adjective used as substantive; nominative plural masculine of <Germanus, Germana, Germanum> Germani -- The Germani
  • multum -- adverb; <multum> greatly -- greatly

23 October 2011


PUBLISHED & ANNOTATED BY KENNETH S. DOIG (all my annotations are in this color)

Scandinavian languages, also called North Germanic (NGmc) languages, group of Germanic languages consisting of modern standard Danish, Swedish, Norwegian (Dano-Norwegian [bokmål] and New Norwegian [nynorsk]), Icelandic, and Faroese. These languages are usually divided into East Scandinavian (Danish and Swedish) and West Scandinavian (Norwegian, Icelandic, and Faroese) groups.

c. 600 f.Cr
 (Today, this East-West classification has little meaning. I would reclassify & rename, to  "Insular-Scandinavian", "IS", & the other group, Continental-Scandinavian, "CS". The first group containing Icelandic & Faroese, the latter, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish & all dialects. The difference is simple, IS is still Old-Norse, especially Icelandic, highly inflected & synthetic marking nouns, pronouns, adjectives, determiners, articles, etc., for grammatical gender [masc, fem & neut], number, case [nom, acc, dat, gen].

Also retaining much or all of verbal inflection,tense, mood, voice, person, number, aspect & conjugation, whereas all the major spoken CS tongues inflect for tense but have lost all personal/number conjugation. One stills sees relics of conjugation & the subjunctive in Biblical verse, set phrases, poetry, etc. Example, the verb to be in Norwegian (bokmål).

03 October 2011



The Afrikaans language

Group Germanic: (with German, English, Swedish etc.), West Germanic (with Dutch, English, Frisian etc.) 

Geography: South Africa 

History: Afrikaans was formed by Dutch colonists in Africa in the 17th century. Originally Afrikaans was a popular dialect composed of Dutch with a lot of borrowings from aboriginal languages of Africa. Though the official language of South African colonies was Dutch, Afrikaans was spoken by farmers who left Cape town seeking for better lands to the north. In the 19th century, when the Republic of Transvaal and the Orange Free State were founded, Afrikaans became an official speech there. In South Africa, Afrikaans was proclaimed the official language in 1914. 



The German language

Group: Indo-European:
Germanic (with German, Danish, Dutch etc.), West Germanic (with Frisian, Scots etc.)

Approximately 71 million German-speaking people live in Germany, and several million under foreign administration. In addition, German is spoken by almost 7 million people in Austria, about 300,000 in Luxembourg, 3,400,000 in the northern section of Switzerland, and about 1,500,000 in Alsace-Lorraine.

30 July 2011

Semantic change

None of my History, Language, Pics or Maps were applicable.
So here is a pic of my fiancée


Changes in meaning are as common as changes in form. Like the latter they can be internally or externally motivated. The equivalent to the paradigm in morphology is, in semantics, the word field in which words and their meanings stand in a network of relationships. The alteration of meaning occurs because words are constantly used and what is intended by speakers is not exactly the same each time. If a different intention for a word is shared by the speech community and becomes established in usage then a semantic change has occurred.

There are different types of change which will be discussed presently. The most neutral way of referring to change is simply to speak of semantic shift which is to talk of change without stating what type it is. To begin with a series of shifts are presented to familiarise students with what is possible in the realm of semantic change.

Old English fæger ‘fit, suitable’, Modern English fair came to mean ‘pleasant, enjoyable’ then ‘beautiful’ and ‘pleasant in conduct’, from which the second modern meaning ‘just, impartial’ derives. The first meaning continued to develop in the sense of ‘of light complexion’ and a third one arose from ‘pleasant’ in a somewhat pejorative sense, meaning ‘average, mediocre’, e.g. He only got a fair result in his exam.

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