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pre-Celtic language

From:Dan Jones <yl-ruil@...>
Date:Wednesday, September 20, 2000, 15:43
After reading Stonehenge, by Bernard Cornwell, I came up with an idea for a
language, that of the people of pre-Celtic Britain. So far I only have a few
words, a rough phonology and a very basic idea of the grammar. I have no
idea about a name, or even what to base a name on. Any help there would be

                        labial  dental  palatal velar   glottal
stops   voiceless       p       t               k       `
        voiced          b       d               g
        glottalised     -       t'              k'
fricatives                      s
approximants            w               j
laterals                                r, l            h
nasal                   m       n               ñ

The similarity between this and the consonantal inverntory of "glottalic"
PIE is entirely accidental. These just seem to be what the book seemed to
represent. All the laterals and can be vocalic, in which case they are
written r', l', h', m', n' and ñ'. My preferred transcription uses hooked n
for ñ, but what can you do in HTML? The velar lateral is probably the most
difficult here.

In the dialect of Rat'arün, the glottalics are pronounced as voiceless
aspirates. In other ra`at', the pronunciation is as normal.

        front           back
high    i, ü            u
mid          e         o
low                 a

O is unrounded, the only two rounded vowels are ü and u. In some dialects u
has a voiceless counterpart, written w'. There are only two diphthongs, /ai/
and /au/, written aj and aw.

Syllable structure is (s)(C)VC. There are no constraints on what single
consonant can appear initially or finally, but only the clusters st, sl, sr,
sp, sw, sj sm and sn are permitted word initial (not word final), not sh,
sd, st' and so on.

I'm thinking about having V1 structure. I would do the ergative thing, but I
don't like it much. Word order is modifier-modified. Nouns will have no
cases. Verbs are going to have a simple tense system, maybe with aspects?
However, I'm not sure if I want this otherwise I'll end up with a clone of

Plurals are formed by "breaking" the last syllable of a word: reduplicating
the vowel and adding a glottal stop between them: rat' "settlement" -->
ra`at' "settlements", len "wolf" --> le`en "wolves".

A few sample words: sla`al "sun", lahan "moon", rat' "settlement", gaw
"cloud", len "wolf", heñal "warrior", al "man, mature male", der "girl,
immature (biologically) female", aban "boy, immature male".

Quick sentence: sab le`en aban. The wolves choose the boy.

Any thoughts? Ones about a name for them would be especially useful.


Go dtóga na púcaí do bheithígh!
                                      May the fairies take your livestock!
Dan Jones: