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Re: Celtic, semitic, etc.

From:Raymond Brown <ray.brown@...>
Date:Sunday, April 30, 2000, 5:44
Trying to catch up on post - just a few replies to the Celtic, Semitic thread:

At 12:24 pm +0200 28/4/00, Lars Henrik Mathiesen wrote:
>> Date: Fri, 28 Apr 2000 01:50:00 -0700 >> From: Barry Garcia <Barry_Garcia@...> > >> [...] that there still are Celts on the mainland. > >I think 'still' is the wrong word here, to be strictly correct. At >least I was told that the Celts on the mainland disappeared, or rather >became totally Romanized/Frankified, and that the current Bretons are >(surprise!) Britons who got thrown out of Kent by the Jutes.
Yes, the greatest 'destroyer' of the Celtic languages was Vulgar Latin - tho English usually gets the blame :=( The continental Celtic languages had virtually all given way to some form of Latin, and the few still surviving outside this area were soon mopped up by Germanic speakers. The Bretons are descendend from settlers who took insular Celtic over with them. It used to be held that they were fleeing before the nasty Saxon invaders; but many now think that the majority fled from much further west and that it was the depredations of Irish pirates that were the main cause of the flight. [GAULISH] At 12:37 pm +0200 28/4/00, BP Jonsson wrote:
>At 22:15 27.4.2000 +0100, Raymond Brown wrote: >>I have seen it argued that one reason >>Gaul took to speaking Latin so rapidly after Caesar's conquest was that >>Gaulish was similar enough to Latin to make it relatively easy for traders, >>merchants etc. to adapt. My own feeling has been that those so-called >>"Celtic" features of the modern languages were strictly insular >>developments. > >Yes, the language of continental Celtic inscriptions is so close to Greek >and Latin, and especially early Latin -- or rather still as close to >(western) Proto-Indo-European -- that someone who has studied the >historical/dialectal phonology and grammar of these languages seldom has a >problem reading them.
Yes, that's very much the impression I've been getting. ["TRIBAL" GROUPINGS]
>>Yet there were tribal grouping in Britain that existed also on the >>continent; the Parisii, e.g. lived in the area where Paris (named from >>them) now stands and in what is now eastern Yorkshire in england; the >>Belgae living roughly in the area of modern Belgium and in southern Britain >>with its 'ciuitas', Venta Belgarum, on the site of the modern Winchester. > >It has been argued that this coincidence of "tribal" names was more due to >cultic practice and structure than to ethnic identity.
Quite possibly - tho the two things often go hand in hand. We also know that some 'tribal' groupings were, in fact, administrative groupings set up by the Romans. The 'Belgae' of southern England might've been just such a one, and the Cantici were certainly such. [THE "SEMITIC" CONNEXION] At 9:41 am -0500 28/4/00, Matt Pearson wrote: [....]
> >My two cents: Speaking as an Austronesianist and a dabbler in >historical linguistics (I was conned into teaching a historical linguistics >course last semester and learned quite a bit in the process), I have to >say that I find the evidence for a historical connection between (insular) >Celtic and Semitic (or Afro-Asiatic) to be less than convincing. IIRC, the >kinds of shared traits which are usually cited (VSO order, inflected >prepositions, articles, N-Adj order, etc.) are inevitably structural rather >than lexical.
Oh yes, all the cited similarities are structural AFAIK - tho lenition of Gaelic is sometimes likened to use & non-use of dagesh in Biblical Hebrew. But I've never seen any suggestion of shared lexical items. [...]
> >Just about all of the properties which Celtic and Semitic are said to >share can also be found in other verb-initial languages all over the >world. Malagasy, for example, has inflected prepositions, articles, >and N-Adj word order--
That's interesting. I really must find out more about Malagasy.
>and nobody would seriously claim that Malagasy >has a Celtic or Semitic substrate (or vice versa).
Wanna bet? I wouldn't put past someone to make just such a claim, and to make it seriously. I guess you mean is that the claim wouldn't get taken very seriously - and on that I agree. [GAELIC IN NOVA SCOTIA] At 2:57 pm -0400 28/4/00, John Cowan wrote:
>Raymond Brown scripsit:
> >> Does Gaelic still survive in Nova >> Scotia? I hope so. > >It does, but hard statistics are hard to come by -- which suggests to me >that they are not encouraging. It is taught as a subject in N.S. schools, >and there is a radio program. The clearest statement I have found is >"less than 1000".
Glad to know it still hangs on there - but less than 1000 is not encouraging. [GALICIA]
> >> I know Galicia is often added, tho I've never really understood why. >> Galician is well & truly a Romance language and AFAIK there's no tangible >> 'Celtic' survival there? > >The pipes, the kilt, and all that.
Never met any Welsh pipes or kilts in the 22 years I lived there :) I know pipes are used in Brittany, Ireland & Scotland; but they are also traditional to parts of England, e.g. Northumbria, and to many parts of the European continent. Kilts, I thought, were a fairly recent (i.e. two or three centuries ago) Scots invention replacing the older, more awkward philibeg. But I've never met any Irishman who'd wear a kilt & AFAIK they've never been used by the Bretons. Some Cornish nationalist, I know, do done kilts - but that is not the continuance of any ancient tradition. Roman legionaries were kilted, as are the guards outside the Presidential Palace in Athens. As neither all "Celts" wear kilts & kilts are or have been worn by non-Celts, this connexion seems spurious to me. At 1:21 pm -0400 28/4/00, Padraic Brown wrote: [...]
> >Perhaps because many of them identify themselves as Celtic.
Yes, but why?
>Sure, they >speak a Romance language; but then, most Cornwallians speak a >Germanic tongue. For that matter, most Irish and Scots do as well.
Yep - but Celtic languages are also spoken in those places. No Celtic language is spoken in Galicia.
>I >believe it's as much a "Celtic Revival", at least in recent years, as >much as anything else.
But as Thomas Leigh has pointed out the whole notion of a single "Celtic" identity is an 18th century invention. So what prompts the Galicians to want to jump on the band-wagon and, say, the Catalonians or Piedmontese or Friulians? Is it some supposed connexion between GALicia, GALli & GALatians? Puzzled, Ray. ========================================= A mind which thinks at its own expense will always interfere with language. [J.G. Hamann 1760] =========================================