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USAGE: USAGE north-west IE diffusion (Re: USAGE:Yet another few questions about Welsh.)

From:Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>
Date:Tuesday, July 6, 2004, 5:07
On Monday, July 5, 2004, at 06:11 , Benct Philip Jonsson wrote:

> At 07:34 7/4/2004, Ray Brown wrote: > >>> Secondly, how >>> tenuous is the 'Italo-Celtic' link? They do seem fairly similar in some >>> ways, different in others. One similarity I've noticed, though it may >>> seem tenuous, is that they both have *k_wenk_we(Welsh 'pump', Irish >>> 'coic', Latin 'quinque') as 'five', rather than *penk_we. >> >> Depends who you ask, I guess. Personally, I think it's strong. It has >> been >> claimed that one reason Gaul became Latin speaking so soon after Caesar' >> s >> conquest was that Gaulish was structurally quite close to Latin. > > My comparative philology professor said that Italo-Celtic is tenuous > because there are no securely demonstrable common innovations.
I must confess it's a long while since I've look at the evidence, and scholarship may well have moved on. I thought there were one or two possible morphological innovation, but I may be disremembeing. Certainly there some words exclusive to the Italic & Celtic groups. But following this up today, I find there are also elements - (a) common to Celtic & Germanic (b) common to Italic & germanic (c) common to all three (i.e. Celtic, italic & Germanic). Furthermore, some of the words common to all three are also found in Balto-Slavonic. These words do not appear in greek, Armenian and Indo-Iranian. This, I understand, has led some to postulate a common North-western grouping. What I find a little strange is that none of the ancient authors ever refer to the inhabitants of Britain or Ireland as Celts; yet the ancient Romans & Greek had first hand encounters with actual Celts in mainland Europe. As I'm sure some know, it was the Welsh 18th cent scholar Edward Lhuyd (or Lhwyd - like Shakespear before him, he was not consistent in the spelling of his surname) who first attached the name 'Celtic' to the pre-English languages Ireland & Britain. This co-incided with the beginnings of the Romantic movement so that three centuries later all sorts of urban myths have grown up about 'the Celts' and get repeated without question. Simon James' "The Atlantic Celts, Ancient People or Modern Invention?" examines the matter at some length. He comes to the conclusion that they are modern invention. There is, I understand, no sound archaelogical evidence for any major shift of populations in Iron Age Britain - rather the contrary, the evidence suggest the peoples of the Iron Age were much the sme as before, they merely adopted iron smelting techniques. In his book, James refers to Colin Renfrew's attempt to reconcile philology and archaeology. According to Renfrew, the so-called Celtic languages originated from the spread of the first farming populations around 4000 BCE and that the various 'Celtic' languages of continental Europe and the Atlantic Isles (i.e. Ireland & Britain) developed in parallel and in intimate mutual contact with one another from this very early date. The various characteristics of individual languages and differences in vocabulary arose in_situ in the Isles & continental Europe. i.e. the Irish & British langs did not come from elsewhere, they developed in Ireland & Britain. Might it be that the Italic langs likewise developed in_situ and in mutual contact with other IEoid langs? I've tried to find more details on Renfrew's theories but so far have drawn a blank. So, I have a few questions :) 1. Is there any actual evidence of the language of those people the Romans called 'Celtae' & the Greeks called 'Keltai'? 2. Why, if the ancient Brits & Irish were Celts, do none of the ancient authors ever call them such? 3. Does anyone have any more info about Renfrew's theories regarding the origins of the Brittonic & Gaelic languages? Clearly there are still many mysteries concerning the diffusion of IE langs in the ancient world. If only someone would discover the secret of time travel ;) Ray =============================================== (home) (work) =============================================== "A mind which thinks at its own expense will always interfere with language." J.G. Hamann, 1760


Andreas Johansson <andjo@...>