Showing posts with label comparative linguistics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label comparative linguistics. 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
horseback
(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
-que 
ex 
ante 
super 
alius 
taurus 
tres, tria 
mare 
rex
 
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:
 
Cases
Singular
Plural
Nominative 
Genitive
Dative 
Accusative
-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 

21 January 2013

(some of) The techniques of historical linguistics


Published, edited, images added & annotations/comments (in red) by Kenneth S DoigFrom Logo


The techniques of historical linguistics

In the course of the 19th century when Indo-European (IE) studies evolved as a science in its own right various techniques and methods were developed which help the linguist to arrive at solid facts about previous stages of a language. 

Of all the methods, the two listed at the beginning below are the main ones, the next two representing additional techniques which can be useful occasionally; the last phenomenon quoted below is important when one is considering the plausibility of change.

12 July 2012

Scytho-Sarmatian : Scythian Languages & their Cognicity with Other Indo-European Languages

PUBLISHED, EDITED, IMAGES ADDED & ANNOTATED (IN RED) BY KENNETH S. DOIG
 
(from Wikipedia)
Scythian (preferably written & pronounced Skythian) languages (/skith-ee-un/, NOT /sigh-thee-un/) refers to all the languages spoken by all the peoples of a vast region of Eurasia named Skythia extending from the Vistula river in East-Europe to Sakastan and Mongolia in Central-Asia during ancient times. 

12 December 2011

"Indo-European Etymological Dictionary" by J. Pokorny : Entries;


PUBLISHED BY KENNETH S. DOIG
from the Mallory bookcover
(from dnghu.org)
Indogermanisches Etymologisches Wörterbuch (Indo-European Etymological Dictionary)

Current Version: 2.0 (1 JUN 2011)
 Indogermanisches Etymologisches Wörterbuch (Wikipedia) by the Czech scholar Julius Pokorny was published in 1959. The work is now slightly outdated, especially as it was conservative even at the time Pokorny wrote it, ignoring the laryngeal theory, and hardly including any Tocharian or Anatolian material. But there exists no more modern and updated etymological dictionary of the Indo-European languages, so it is still of interest to scholars.











Old Indian áyas- n., av. ayaŋh- n. `metal, iron';
lat. aes, g. aeris; got. aiz (proto germ. *a(i̯)iz- = idg. *ai̯es-) `copper ore, and the alloy of copper, bronze. Transf., anything made of bronze; a vessel, statue, trumpet, kettle', ahd. ēr `ore', anord. eir n. `ore, copper'.
thereof av. ayaŋhaēna- `metallic, iron', lat. aēnus (*ai̯es-no- = umbr. ahesnes `of copper, of bronze'), aēneus, ags. ǣren, as. ahd. mhd. ērīn, nhd. ēren (ehern). despite Pokorny KZ. 46, 292 f. is not idg. ai̯os old borrowing from Ajasja, older Aɫas(ja), the old name of Cyprus, as lat. cuprum : Κύπρος, there according to D. Davis (BSA. 30, 74-86, 1932) the copper pits were tackled in Cyprus only in late Mycenaean time.

12 November 2011

 
PUBLISHED BY KENNETH S. DOIG
 
Prime Minister William Gladstone

Through the Language Glass by Guy Deutscher – review

  • guardian.co.uk,
  • Article history
An exuberant book, rich in anecdote, instance and oddity, about the curious interactions between language and perception
William Gladstone speculated that the ancient Greeks were unable to see in colour. Photograph: Bettmann/Corbis

In April 2002, the great journal Lloyd's List gave shipping a sex change, switching the nautical pronoun to "it". According to Guy Deutscher, "'she' fell by the quayside." There, in half a sentence, you have the delight of this book: pertinent anecdote, relaxed wit and an uneasy sense that the author is always one jump ahead.

05 October 2011

EXTINCT, ENIGMATIC, NOT SOLIDLY CLASSIFIED INDO-EUROPEAN TONGUES IN CENTRAL & SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE : BALKAN LANGUAGES : ILLYRIAN, THRACIAN, MESSAPIC & MORE


PUBLISHED, FORMATTED & EDITED BY KENNETH S. DOIG


The Balkans, also called Balkan Peninsula, easternmost of Europe’s three great southern peninsulas, comprising Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Macedonia, Albania, Bulgaria, Romania, and Moldova. 


The Balkans are bordered by Italy on the northwest, Austria and Hungary on the north, Ukraine on the north and northeast, and Greece and Turkey on the south. The region is washed by the Adriatic Sea in the west, the Ionian Sea in the southwest, and the Black Sea in the east.



 In the north clear geographic delimitation of the Balkans becomes difficult, because the

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