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
>> claimed that one reason Gaul became Latin speaking so soon after Caesar'
>> 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
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
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 ;)
"A mind which thinks at its own expense will always
interfere with language." J.G. Hamann, 1760