CHAT Celtic alphabet? (was: An incongruent orthography: Maggel)
|From:||Raymond Brown <ray.brown@...>|
|Date:||Monday, April 8, 2002, 5:10|
At 5:53 pm +0200 7/4/02, Christophe Grandsire wrote:
>I use here the Roman transcription of the Maggel alphabet (which happens to
>look very much like the Celtic alphabet).
The _Celtic_ alphabet?
AFAIK the ancient Brits and there descendants, i.e. the Welsh, have always
used the Roman alphabet in various different forms in its evolution from
the Roman Empire till the present day. The same is true of the other
descendants of the ancient Brits, i.e. the Cornish & Bretons.
Do you mean the ogham script dating from the 4th cent. AD and used till
about the middle of the 7th cent. AD? Although oghamic inscription are
found in Wales as well as the Isle of Man, Scotland & Ireland, the language
is always Old Irish (the Irish ruled north Wales for some time before the
Welsh manage to free themselves). It is purely Irish invention, not
The theories about the origin of this script are almost on a par in their
number and fancifulness as those relating Basque to practically every
language on this planet, and IMHO just as worthless. The saner theorists
cannot ignore the resemblance between oghams and certain varieties of Norse
runes, particularly 'tree runes'; and there is little doubt in my mind that
they were devised in imitation of such runes left in graffiti of Norse
invaders of Scotland & Ireland.
Or do you mean the 'New Irish Script' whose 18 letters are, of course,
derived from the Roman alphabet? But this is hardly Celtic! My own
_English_ (i.e. Germanic) ancestors were using a very similar alphabet (the
so-called 'Anglo-Saxon hand'), with a few extra letters, until your lot
came over in 1066 and supplanted it with the continental minuscules used by
your Norman scribes.
One should speak more properly of the'Insular script' used on the islands
of Britain & Ireland for writing both Old English and Old Irish. True, it
was developed in Ireland and spread to Britain as the Old English accepted
Christianity; but the Irish had developed it from the so-called half-uncial
of west and southern Gaul. But the script is also found in some Egyptian
papyri and probably developed from the Roman uncial script somewhere in
Of course, part of the problem is that neither the Welsh, Bretons, Cornish
nor the Irish and Gaels of Scotland & the Isle of Man had any idea they
were 'Celtic' until the 18th century when the Welsh scholar Edward Lluyd
told them so. There is certainly no reference to Celts in any ancient
Irish literature or in the Roman accounts of Britain. Unfortunately,
Lluyd's theories co-incided with Romantic movement in the arts and
imaginations have run riot ever since.
AFAIK the peoples actually defined as 'Keltai' by the ancients in the 6th &
5th cents BC were illiterate. I'm not aware of any (clear) evidence as to
what language these people spoke. Does anyone on this list know of any